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The day I cried over 30 chickens

We had just moved into our house and hadn’t even been there a week… we came home from work to find that my Dad had delivered 30 baby chickens, a bag of feed, and a waterer to the house. In his blinded by the clearance sign ways he had gotten the chics for twenty-five cents a piece, and thought we should be chicken farmers. The problem was we had just moved in, yes, we wanted chickens but not right that moment… THIRTY chickens. I distinctly remember sitting on the garage floor and crying because we didn’t have any place to put the chickens at the moment, and overwhelmed by THIRTY chickens and what the hell were we going to do with THIRTY chickens??!! Yes, I was stressed… my husband, probably worried about my mental state calmly went inside and got me a cold beer. I drank said beer, and stared at the little fuzz balls occupying the garage… all THIRTY of them.

My husband, who to this day amazes me, took it all in stride. Cool as a cucumber he spent his free time converting the shed into a Taj Mahal of chicken coops, and it was beautiful. He had nesting boxes, a roost, and everything. Doors going out to a run to boot. My dad said it was overkill “they’re just chickens” this coming from a man who put at least two dozen meat birds into essentially a hobbit made of fencing and a few wood pallets.

Over the course of time that we KEPT thirty feathered friends we discovered a few things. One, Leghorn chickens (the white ones) are a$$holes. They would be one the roost and swoop you, they’d attack you, and if given the chance I think they would have killed us in our sleep. No lie. These ladies were the worst!! Two, when you KEEP thirty chickens you get thirty eggs. In ONE day. That’s TWO HUNDRED AND TEN eggs a week! EIGHT HUNDRED AND FORTY eggs a month. Sweet Lord what do you do with that many eggs? Yes, we ate them. We tried to sell them. We gave them away! And they just kept coming! Three, trying to sell eggs to coworkers is a huge pain. Four, there’s a lot of different ways to make and use eggs. Five, and the most important lesson… we needed to downsize ASAP!!

Lucky for us the neighbor’s flock got wiped out by a mink or weasel or the Lochness Monster, or whatever it was; and wanted to replace their flock. Super lucky for us they only wanted Leghorn chickens. THANK YOU sweet baby Jesus! So half of our flock lives down the road, and we see them every day going to and from work. They seem much happier over there. When the old man came to get the chickens he came with this chicken catching pole. My husband admitted that he was a city boy, and didn’t know anything about the chicken catcher and went about picking up chickens and handing them to the old man. The old man in turn just stuffed them into a crate. He must have the same thought as my dad “they’re just chickens”. I’m pretty sure he had a good chuckle over the whole thing.

With the Leghorns gone we now had just ISA browns, and some lace wyandotte left. These remaining girls were sweet. My husband would pick them up and love on them, and they loved it. When they saw him coming they would just lay down and wait their turn to get loved on. In case you haven’t figured this out yet, my husband loves critters, and they love him.

Maybe their were six lessons. Prior to the Leghorns leaving we discovered that chickens fly. And they roost in trees. Thirty feet in the air we had those damn Leghorns hovering over us like a buzzard over roadkill. You could just feel them looking down on you plotting their attack. Google was a godsend during our chicken farmer lessons.. How else would we have known to trim the chickens wings?

Okay, seven lessons. You get chickens, and treat them like you do the family dog you’re going to get a nickname. My husband is known as Rooster. My dad even calls him Rooster. AND if you are selling eggs to coworkers you gotta have a catchy business name. LOL. We were the Ege Egg Company. (Ege is pronounced Egg-E) I had business cards made that people would give back to us when they wanted eggs. They wrote their name on the card, handed it to one of us, and the next day we would remember their eggs. It worked out.

Eight. The more scrap you feed your chickens the better the eggs are. I was feeding them kitchen scrap almost every day. Lettuce, tomatoes, whatever veg was about to go bad in the fridge; and the yokes got so orange! The darker the yoke the richer the flavor. OMG they were so good.

Little by little we kept downsizing the flock. And two years in we decided to rehome the rest. They weren’t producing anymore and we were kind of over it. You know what? You miss having your own chickens pretty quickly. Especially when you try to get eggs from the resident “Egg Lady” and she’s always sold out. Double especially when you buy store bought eggs, and realize how spoiled you are with those “farm fresh” eggs. It didn’t take long, and we are back in the Chicken business. LOL. No thirty hens this time. We got eight total. Two Americanas, and six ISA browns. Just like with the last flock we sit out in our lawn chairs and watch the chickens. It’s a great way to relax, and be entertained. Chickens really are an entertaining creature…

The truth about roosters. We wound up with a total of 3 roosters out of the 30. One rooster in particular was a jerk. So Rooster (husband) kicked him out of the run with the ladies. Now, my husband being my husband felt bad for the rooster, and laid a trash can on it’s side so rooster would have a place to get out of the weather. Hence, Oscar the rooster, seemed like a perfect name.

In the midst of downsizing and all of that we did have some fatalities… a chicken or two froze to death in the winter when it was ridiculously cold, one got sick and died, we ended up butchering Oscar and his two male friends. That was horrible in itself… I blame the weather really. It was cold and raining, and the smell just seemed to hang out. Yuck. We of course had names for each of the ladies… Henrietta, Phyliss, Big Rhonda, Monica…

So life is once again entertained by chickens, and I’ve only named one chicken. Dottie. She’s an Americana and runs around town at all hours. Damn chickens.

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