Monday, June 15, 2015

Chick-a-Holic, or The Gift Horse

Recently we got rid of our chickens. Why? Because the silly, spoiled birds kept hanging out in the garage. And on the back patio.

I did warn them. I said, "Shorty, take your hens and go roam around the acreage. Stop hanging out by the back door! Or, I'll, I'll . . . find you another home!" This was the worst threat I could come up with, because there is no actual stew-pot for chickens on this farm.

All of our chicken have names. They are all pets. No one, no matter how badly they behave, makes it to the stew-pot here.

But do you think Shorty listened? No. So one day, fed up with chicken poop in the garage, I advertised them and they all found new homes by that evening.

But what had I done? What was I thinking? I instantly missed my chickens. I actually rang the new owner several days later, to see how Elizabeth and Fluffy and Dory and Henrietta were doing. She never called me back. She probably thought I was nuts.

Ah, well. So life was simpler around here, for a short time. No chickens to feed or water. No chickens in the backyard or in the garage. But wait . . . No lovely brown eggs either.

So silly me, being a bit of a chick-a-holic (I happen to really like chickens, okay?) I answered a local ad for four free young hens. Free? (My favorite price.) But there was a catch. The ad said that these hens were egg-eaters. Oh No!

To the uninitiated, this is a very, very bad habit for hens (and usually leads to the stew-pot.) Probably brought on by a lack of something in their diet, or boredom, or maybe they accidentally break one and learn they taste delicious, or something. But the bad thing is that other hens can pick up this horrible habit, and soon you get no eggs!

But I went to look at these hens anyway, because they were just around the corner, so to speak. In country parlance, this means they were only about three miles away on a country road, and not, say ten or twenty miles away.

I asked the owner if he had seen broken eggshells. Or if he had actually seen the hens eating the eggs. Or if all of the hens were actually eating the eggs. He assured me that they all ate eggs. Then he plucked each hen off the roost, shoved them in our cage and pretty much wished me luck. (Why was I even taking this project on? I don't know. I'm a chick-a-holic, remember?)

So we loaded the hens up, and put them in our big empty coop. And I waited. Early next morning. I had one bright blue egg. No. One. ate it. Yay!

Next morning, two bright blue eggs. No. One. ate any. Yay.

And so on, and so on, and so on. So far these nice hens have been laying up a storm, and I've already sold a dozen and eaten quite a few more.

Of course I gave them names. They had not been here 24 hours when they were known as Georgia, Augusta, Carmen, and Belle.

They are Ameraucana hens, or crosses, which are known as Easter Eggers. They don't lay brown eggs, but lovely blue eggs. I've had them for almost two weeks now, and no. one. has eaten any eggs! (Hope I'm not jinxing it by saying that.)

Maybe they like this place better. Maybe they needed to have names. (Maybe they like the mister I turn on for them on hot days.) I do not know, but my husband told me not to look a gift horse (or hen) in the mouth.

I love my new hens. ;-) And I promised myself that I would not spoil these chickens. I would keep this bunch of hens in the pen, so they won't have a chance to make a habit of hanging out in the garage.

But they run to greet me now, wondering what I've brought them to snack on. So I might open the gate just a little bit for them, just so they can mosey outside to get some green grass.

You know, just once in a while.