Easter is just around the corner, and that means chicks will be everywhere!
These little bundles of joy remind us of the wonders of nature and new beginnings. But chicks aren’t just a holiday decoration. Raising chickens produces fresh eggs every day, fertilizes the soil for your garden, and provides plenty of entertainment. So with the holiday approaching, we at Bluffton.com thought we’d share a Bluffton resident’s real “Chicken Story”. We hope you enjoy one woman’s journey of chicken-keeping!
Jennifer Megliore has always adored chickens.
She recalls admiring all the variety, full feather hats, fluffy legs, and all the colors and attributes that are so interesting. For Jennifer, getting chickens has been 10 years in the making. A friend, Paulette Bunn, who has a full-fledged farm in Georgia, introduced her to Buff Orpington chickens. “I call them the Golden Retrievers of the Chicken world, quiet, kind and enjoy being held”.
Fast forward 8 years to Jennifer and her husband Mark buying a lot in Honey Hill in Ridgeland. Close friends had 4 hens in a charming chicken run. A spiteful neighbor made trouble for them by reporting them to the POA. While rural, the community rules didn’t provide for chickens. “That started the clock on my friend losing her chickens. That just wasn’t going to happen.” Jennifer learned what the process for making changes to the Neighborhood covenants was, and gauged the receptiveness of the community. That took some time, but with 5 acre+ parcels and being rural, it passed easily. That new amendment allowed anyone to have chickens under community standards.
Living full-time in Windtree, off of Buck Island Road in Bluffton, that neighborhood gave Jennifer a unique opportunity.
Being in unincorporated Bluffton, there is no law against having chickens in the Windtree development. This led Jennifer to gauge the eagerness of fellow residents to allow chickens. Some people were enthusiastically in favor- a few were very much against it. In order to get the Chicken amendment to pass, you’d need a high percentage of the neighbors and 100% board support. It was a two-year process but we passed it by one vote.
Now a reality, Jennifer found a Men’s Residential Rehab Facility in Garfield, GA called New Beginnings in Christ (NBIC) which build nice coops and were open to custom jobs. Designing the coop of her dreams, with features from about 12 other coop designs available, Jennifer put together a 6’ wide by 12’ coop custom-built for the Extra Large Buff Orpington variety. During the 3 months it took to have the coop built, Jennifer ‘went down the chicken hole’ learning everything she could about raising chickens, costs, and supplies. Once completed, she drove 75 miles into Middle Georgia with 8 residents to move the monster coop and bring it home.
Jennifer’s chicks arrived on February 17th after being hatched on the 13th. “Getting them home was one of my happiest days.”
As the owner of ArtWare, at Shelter Cove Towne Centre on Hilton Head, leaving the chicks at home was made easier with the use of a web video camera. Jennifer and customers can watch the chicks scamper on her iPad. “I can take a head count, and even talk to the chicks through the web camera’ says the proud Chick Mom.
Chickens need very little attention, just a safe coop, water and feed. They love food scraps from the house, saving tons in trash and landfill. As they reach about 6 months they will start laying: taking breaks for molting and Winter. There is a setup for every budget. You can go simple, or over-the-top.
Jennifer shared some facts about their amended chicken covenants.
She can only have 6 hens, no roosters. Feed needs to be in metal containers to prevent rodents. She encourages potential chicken keepers to make sure to review their POA rules to make sure they’re allowed before going further. Like any animal, they are a commitment and big expense. While egg prices have soared, all the equipment needed is an investment. Luckily this breed lives 7-8 years and produces about 200 eggs a year, each. “I’ll have eggs to share with friends and family, but they won’t be sold’ says Jennifer.
Like The Chicken Chapel Facebook page to see the flock grow, or stop into ArtWare at Shelter Cove Towne Centre– next to Kilwins to watch the chicks on the iPad.