Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why Do We Have Chickens?

It occurred to me that this might be a good time to explain how we got into the chicken/egg "business." In first grade, Sadie's class hatched eggs in an incubator. Sadie kept coming home from school telling me that if I sent a note she could bring home some chicks. This was before they even hatched so I kept putting her off. Come to find out, she was right, so we allowed her to bring three Leghorn chicks home. We figured they wouldn't make it through the winter (for some reason they hatched them in October-November which is not an ideal time around here.)

The three--Pecky, Eatie, and Roostey--soon outgrew their box in the house. We "borrowed" a huge rabbit hutch from our friends and Robby built a smaller house with a heat lamp to put inside the hutch and we moved them outside. We never dreamed they'd all survive the winter; we actually had snow that year. They did survive, so we built a house and pen in our backyard in town.

We moved all three chickens and the house and pen to the country with us. Our neighbor in town had "fancy" chickens. He decided that we needed some Cochin Bantams. We were excited to expand our flock, so we agreed. He called one day to tell me to come pick them up. He already had them in a cage. He gave us an older hen and 3 of her chicks. After I got home with them he said, "By the way, I'm pretty sure two of those are roosters." I didn't want roosters. Roostey, the original Leghorn was getting mean and cantankerous, I wasn't interested in more.

To make a long story short, Roostey got so mean he wouldn't let us in or out of the pen. I had to carry a "chicken stick" with me to get eggs and the kids wouldn't go near the pen (except Tryce, which is another story.) Petunia, the dog, killed the old bantam hen when she got in the yard and her chick, that was now a hen, died from loneliness. Roostey went on to greener pastures when we adopted our cousin's second-grade chicken Adventure Cheepy. (He, by the way, was not smart enough to come in out of the rain and unfortunately didn't last too long here.) So, we were down to the two original Leghorns and the two unwanted Bantam roosters.

In August we bought 5 Rhode Island Red and 5 Leghorn chicks. Fast forward to now. We still have the two hens from first grade. The chicks we bought last fall are all laying and we have eggs coming out our ears. (For sale, by the way, if you are interested.) The roosters, after 2 years of living in peace, have begun to fight. Our hens will probably never sit on eggs to hatch them (broodiness has been bred out of them). Because of that, it kind of makes the roosters unnecessary. So, renovations to the pens and relocation of the "fighting" roosters are on the to-do list for this spring.

If you'd like a slightly beat up Bantam rooster, let me know. I guess you could say they are "free to a good home."