For a long old while the chickens were called quite simply black chicken and brown chicken.
This has been disturbing a surprising number of our friends and colleagues who think that the chickens should have names. Some friends suggested Coffee and Marmalade, which I thought were great names, but didn’t really stick.
Now Black Chicken has definitely become named Houdini, because she keeps escaping and we don’t know how. (This is a bit of a problem, because once she breaches the fence she can’t get back in again. Which means she doesn’t always have access to water and sometimes if we are late to shut them up for the night, she tries to roost outside the hen house, a very bad idea in our fox-strewn neighbourhood.)
Which left Brown Chicken. A coffee break discussion at school led to her being called Persephone, a name which works for convenience, but I doubt has ever been uttered in her earshot.
I have a sneaking suspicion that the chickens have different names at P’s workplace to at mine.
Looking after them is easy most of the time. Mucking out is a 5-10 minute job twice a week; a more comprehensive clean of the house is needed every month or so, and even that is at most a half hour job.
On a daily basis we top up the feed and water and feed them treats: leafy greens, weeds, corn or bird seed. We let them out into a fenced run if we are around in daylight, which is most days.
P started off hardline: we are only getting chickens if you do all the work. Now, since he is most often home in the daylight, thanks to a crazy early start at work, it is him who does most of the feeding and watering and handling, leaving me the mucking out.
It will get trickier as the weather gets colder. I am a little anxious about what to do when the water starts freezing, especially when I am often out of the house the 12 hours of daylight, putting in regular 10 hour days at school and still not getting enough done.
If it gets properly cold they will have to be shut into the hen house at night and let out in the morning, adding another few minutes to the morning routine when time is always tight. And of course, on the days when time is tight anyway because the car needs defrosting.
We do have more eggs than we can cope with but so far not more eggs than we can easily give away when things get out of hand. We are somehow managing to think both “there are more eggs than we can eat” and “it would be nice to have more chickens.”
You should consider investing in an automatic chicken coup opener/closer like the one on my Amazon wish list. Cheaper less accomplished ones are available – I think the eglu people even have their own?
We didn’t have a problem last year with water. I put fresh water in in the morning if it was frozen and it did not freeze over thickly enough during the day for their regular pecking not to keep it accessible.