Archive for the ‘Chickens’ Category

Playing Chicken

While I write this, I am sitting a house with almost no dry wall, at a picnic table, drinking wine from a wide mouth ball jar (the wide mouth canning jar allows the bouquet to more fully open up,) and I am listening to the happy peeps of the chicks in my (future) living room. What!? Not drinking out of real wine glasses? Oh, how low have I sunk? You’re right. There’s no excuse; I own proper wine glasses but I don’t know where they are boxed and packed. I should just go out and get more. Oh wait…You were more concerned about the flock of fowl in my humble abode? Me too. That’s why I’m drinking from a Ball jar. The story starts like this…

Our beloved middle child was turning 13 in May (a Taurus for those of you who are wondering and now sagely nodding your heads.) Her birthday is the day after my Dad, which is extremely convenient for me because I have never had a memory for birthdays. Anyway, I was prepared for this one because she wanted something that I was also excited about. She wanted chickens. Miss Moo has a vision of being an egg entrepreneur, an eggpreneur if you would. I fully support her vision. So for her birthday, I arranged for us to go to Peaceful Valley Farm, to see our friend Pam. Pam runs a small hatchery and in the springtime, has a pretty constant flow of juvenile chickens. She helped Moo pick out eight fine chickens, some sexed, some not but all in all, a gorgeous group of chickens.

Here, Moo is releasing the flock into the chicken duplex and the surrounding yard:

And here is the flock checking out the berry bed. We have since used hog panels to seal off the bed, after the tiny dinosaurs decimated it:

Almost immediately, tragedy struck when one of the chickens was murdered. The victim pictured below, was a slow moving chicken of questionable parentage.

The main suspect is Chamberlain. Chamberlain is a frizzle and HE is a HE. He is frequently called by the other name for roosters:

Chamberlain is named after the evil Skeksis from the Dark Crystal. Pleases see the photo below. That’s the face of a killer if I’ve ever seen one. Both of them:

Chamberlain has been sentenced to the death penalty but is still sitting on death row until I learn how best to kill and gut him.

We have been living in relative peace and chicken harmony since the arrival of the girls (and Chamberlain.) The horror of the murder quickly passed. All was status quo until a week ago, when the CEO of Smart Chick Eggs (a subsidiary of Moo Enterprises) got her father to buy her a copy of Storey’s Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds. For four hours she looked through the book. She bookmarked pages of breeds she is interested in. She became…obsessed. Then she did the thing that any Smart Chick would do, if she wanted more creatures. She took the book to her Auntie. We frequently joke that Auntie is one bad decision away from being a hoarder. Auntie, LOVES to assist others in acquiring new creatures. Within two days, we went from having a modest flock of seven (soon to be six) future egg layers to 16 (soon to be 15) mix and matched, sometimes gorgeous, sometimes ugly-ass chickens. The new additions are: two more frizzle hens of unknown parentage, two Miller Fleurs, a hen and a rooster (a super cute french variety), two more Amercauna chicks (a respectable egg laying breed) about three weeks old, two, two day old Silkie chickens with tiny afros, and three showgirls. Have you ever seen showgirls. Not the awful movie staring the formerly cute but nerdy Jessie from Saved By The Bell. I’m talking about a freaky-show variety of chicken-chicken-turkey crosses. They are by far the ugliest things EVER! When I named Chamberlain after the Skeksi, I was wrong. These things are Skeksis in feather boas. I don’t have any photos of ours because I have been busy but please enjoy this photo stolen from Backyard Chicken’s website:

It’s the Chinese Crested of the chicken world. Auntie could not resist these insanely unattractive creatures so we now have three of them. Two are silkies, one has normal feathers but still lacks the neck plumage. The only thing these chickens have going for them is they are very personable. Like the hairless cat, if humans don’t like them, they have no chance at survival. Unlike the hairless cat, they are still edible in polite society, though I imagine it takes a bit of doing to pluck one. I am willing to spend the time if they are not nice.

So now, I have chickens housed everywhere. Being the get of dinosaurs, generations back, they have a very complicated social structure in which they torture each other to death, if any member looks different. Actually, it’s a lot like middle school. (That sounds like the start of a joke. What does middle school and a velociraptor have in common?) The youngest chickens can’t be housed with the older established flock because the older chickens kill them. The Silkies can’t be house with the regular feathered chickens because the regular chickens kill them. The Bantams and the full sized chickens can’t cohabitate because…you see where this is going. We have a pending housing crisis here at the farm. For now, the four youngest chickens, the Amercaunas and the tiny silkie chicks are living in a large dog kennel in the living room where they have access to the heat lamp. The seven (yes, seven!) motley crew chickens are living in Chaos’s wire kennel inside the chicken duplex, where the showgirls refuse to mingle with the frizzles and Mille Fleurs, who are so so scared, they take turns hiding their heads under each others’ wings. It’s a mess. And to top it all off, Smart Chick, Moo has been at her Auntie’s for the last two days, leaving her chickens to fend for themselves. (I’m feeding and watering them but their cage needs to be cleaned and I know just the 13 year old for the job.)

So where do we go from here? I’m not sure. Soon, I am going to have to figure out legitimate long term housing for these things. I have watched the way the older chickens look at them and I can tell, there’s no way they are going to live in peace, love and KFC. I don’t want to put them in a tiny stinky coop that needs cleaning and the duplex yard is already maxed out as far as how many chicken the land can support before it becomes a sand lot of chicken destruction. I guess we will have to build a chicken tractor to run next to the rabbit tractor (oh by the way, we have meat bunnies now, more on that later) and I will be sending Smart Chick Eggs a bill for services rendered, itemized under janitorial services and improvement of facilities. Let the business lesson begin.

For now, I’m looking for the quart size wine glasses. Oops, I mean Ball Jars.