FLOYD COUNTY — around this time last year I wrote a column about the exploits of our lives as amateur chicken farmers. The award winning column, “Country life in the city,” told the tale of my family’s fun after we purchased a half dozen baby chicks on a whim early last spring. little did I know at the time that it was only the beginning. Last year we bought six chicks that grew up to be very good egg producing hens. Sometimes we find ourselves overwhelmed with eggs with about a dozen eggs every other day when they are in full laying mode. they laid pretty well with the mild winter we had but they did slow down a bit. Adding a light to their coop during the days of winter when daylight is a little scarce helped them out so they continued to be fairly consistent throughout the winter months. As spring was fast approaching earlier this year we had a major decision to make. should we stay with six hens or would we expand our flock? The initial decision was made to buy a few more hens to round out our flock. Last year when we made our purchase we went to the Tractor Supply store in Sellersburg. The only problem with getting them there is they have a minimum purchase requirement of six and we weren’t sure if we wanted that many again. a co-worker directed us to Meiners J-Town Hardware that did not restrict how many you had to purchase. it turned out that the selection at J-Town Hardware was as good as any place we had seen. with the intention of only buying a couple more hens, we couldn’t decide on which to get. We ended up heading home with a pair of three different breeds, so now our flock had doubled in size. The six new hens had a little more distinctive color schemes than the ones we had purchased the year before. We thought they would blend in nicely with the relatively plain ones we had bought a year earlier. For the first several weeks of a young chick’s life they need to live indoors because of their inability to regulate their own body temperature. this required them to live in a cage with a heat lamp for a while in our living room. this leads to some pretty interesting interactions with two other members of our family, our cats Jefferson and Starship. they were able to reach their paws into the cage and attempt to grab the young chicks. I was able to foil their ability to reach into the cage by surrounding it with an eight inch Plexiglas wall that kept their paws at bay. when it was time to introduce the young chicks to the year-old hens, we didn’t know there would be any issues. it turns out that the older hens were a little protective of their turf and began to “hen peck” their little new bunk mates. one of the poor little ones was injured pretty bad from attacks on its head that even drew blood. while the injuries quickly healed, it became clear that mixing the two groups would take some work. After a few tries at commingling the two groups we were forced to make a separate coop for the new ones. We built them a small temporary coop that they lived in for a few months, but it was obvious that they would need something a little larger. I have constructed another coop for them to live in on a more permanent basis. The new cage is a little more portable than the original coop and can be moved around our backyard in order to keep damage to a minimum. The plan is to ultimately combine the two coops into one eventually, when the two groups learn to play well together. The first year and a half of chicken owning went off without a hitch. The entire first group had survived the winter and things were progressing nicely with the younger batch. that all changed when tragedy struck last month. I went out to feed and water them for the day and one of the older chickens was on the floor of the coop underneath the perch where they sleep. with no signs of physical trauma to the chicken’s body it seemed that she had died quietly in her sleep. she was buried in our backyard in a quiet ceremony and will always be remembered for the delight she brought to our family. We experienced another hiccup last week when one of our hens turned out to be a rooster. We had some inkling for several weeks that something was amiss when one of a pair started maturing faster than the other. he was larger than his female counterpart and his comb and wattle [the fold of skin under the neck] was more defined. I wasn’t ready to admit that it was in fact a rooster until last Saturday, when he started crowing. it is not a true crow that you would expect; it is more an attempt at crowing that he is still working on, but still a little annoying. it goes on periodically for about an hour every morning. So now we are faced with finding a good home for him before one of our neighbors complains. We did not plan on this; it just turns out that the sorting process is not a perfect science and mistakes do happen. Raising chickens is easier than you might expect and has brought a lot of joy to our family. it makes for great conversation and has made our lives a lot more interesting. Not to mention you never have to pay for eggs, ever. if you have the interest and the space to keep them happy, I would recommend a backyard chicken coop to anyone. if you have interest in starting a flock of your own you can contact Matthew Nash at .