Montana Apgar knows the meaning of hard work. This includes knowing how to take care of chickens.
He's 9 and lives with his family off the grid in the Pacific Northwest. They generate their own solar electricity, catch rainwater off the roof, raise poultry, and grow a lot of food. Montana helps with all of this, including raising his own flock of chickens and ducks. His dad, Keeth, calls him "quite the chicken whisperer."
We discovered Montana when he entered our Independence Challenge contest because he was one of the honorable mentions for making a video about chopping wood. With raising chickens skyrocketing in popularity (seriously, the hatcheries are inundated), we decided to get Montana's advice for how to take care of chickens. Check out his insight.
Chickens help you become more self-sufficient.
This might be the biggest reason raising chickens has been growing in popularity. There's just something comforting, knowing that you can provide your own food. "We don't have to rely on the grocery store or market to give ourselves food or meat," Montana says.
With so many different chicken breeds out there, it can seem overwhelming to figure out the right type for you, but there are a lot of resources to help. Check out this Farmer's Almanac article to help you navigate.
Chickens help you learn to care for others.
This part is both rewarding and a lot of work. As Montana explains, "You don't get a vacation. You have to take care of them 365 days a year." Every day, Montana heads out to take care of his flock and do his chores. This includes letting them out in the morning and giving them food, water, and sometimes attention. Then he puts them back in for the night. Yes, it's work, but Montana says, "It feels good to care for them because I'm giving them a happy and healthy life."
Chickens can help your garden grow.
Growing a great garden and raising chickens really go hand in hand. Montana says this is one of the top benefits—chicken poop makes great fertilizer. Since you can easily spend hundreds of dollars on getting good soil for a garden, having a ready-made supply of chicken fertilizer really is a built-in benefit. Learn more about these specific benefits here.
Chickens are kind of amazing.
Montana says you're always learning when you have chickens. One fact he likes to share is about molting. "This means they lose their feathers and then grow new ones," Montana says. "When chickens molt, they don't really lay any eggs because all their energy is going to their feathers instead of making new eggs." This is just one cool fact about chickens, but Montana assures us there are so many more to discover.
Chickens are fun.
You'll pretty much never get bored when you have chickens and ducks. They're always doing exploring or getting into something. Just take a look at this video of Montana with his chickens to see the fun he has.
By the way, Montana is also a musician, following in the footsteps of his dad who is in the band, The Harmonica Pocket. If you know a great independent kid like Montana, we want to hear about them. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can tell their story.