Thursday, May 14, 2015

Raising Chickens - The Dirty Reality

I am ALLLLLL about being real with you people.  I will tell the truth when it doesn't warrant it and life would be easier without it.  But then I'd be lying you'd get all ticky-off to me because, "well, we did what you said, and, frankly, it stunk".  So I give you this whole farm thing without any sugar coating, even though there are some parts so sticky sweet that I wouldn't trade them for anything (and then there are those that need a shovel and a hole in the ground).

So here is my version (read that part carefully - my version) of Chicken Reality (yes it is now a proper noun and you can't do anything about it).

1.  Chicks are stinking cute!  Baby chickens that are under a heat lamp in the cow trough in the feed store are just about the cutest little things EVAH.  They peep and the run and they peep some more and they look up at you sideways (sometimes while peeping and running) and they are just so damn cute.  And when you purchase them they put them in these little boxes all crammed together and you wonder how they breathe.  But they do and they make it home to your kitchen counter.  Because that's where all the chicks end up even if you have their new home ready for them.  That or the coffee table.

2.  Chicken Math.  This is a real thing.  The Teenager and Hubs went out to a breeder to get four barred rock chicks.  See that - 4, four, FOUR, Quatro,  Somehow that meant thirteen.  I don't even know how, but they have been grounded from getting chicks.  Until I took the Teenager a year later and we went for three chicks - and came home with nine.  See chicken math.  I'm sure it's part of the Common Core.

3.  Egg usage and income.  You get chicks so they grow into chickens, who are hopefully hens, because you want eggs.  And because you came home with 12 chicks because somebody can't count, you now have 12 hens.  Who lay about 8 eggs a day (give or take, this math is wearing on me).  So you either need to use 8 eggs a day, or you need to sell them.  I've tried both and it can be too much work on some days.  Too much thought to try and find recipes that use lots of eggs.  Warm chocolate melting cake used to be my go-to recipe, but my family started wearing thin on that one (the nerve!).  So I started selling them at work.  I easily sell four dozen a week at work.  Somehow I still am not breaking even on the income vs expense.  As you can see I'm not so good at math.  Did I mention I teach math at the local elementary?  Pretty scary, eh?

4.  They are Landscape Terrorists.  I love seeing the little fellers roam my property just as much as anyone.  They are so cute digging into the dirt and beauty bark for grubs.  Until the beauty bark is spread all over the lawn.  We have to use 6 mil plastic in our flowerbeds because the dirt is so good, it grows the best damn weeds you've ever seen.  On top of the plastic is about four inches of bark.  Chickens have a blast flicking all that bark onto the grass and exposing the ugly plastic.  Dust baths?  They love 'em.  Especially under the hostas.  Then you have flowerbeds that mimic the movie "Holes".

5.  Chicken Coop Cleanliness.  If you house is clean and you don't have chickens, then your house is clean.  Once you have chickens. your house is a mess, but your chicken coop is really clean!  Just live with it.  Or move into the chicken coop.  You might not get the top rung on the ladder, though.

6.  Chicken TV.  Your cable can pretty much be turned off because watching the antics of chicks will take up all your time.  I won't even post the video of our little guys running from the worm because it will have you driving to the feed store so fast you won't have time to put your shoes on.

7.  Eggs in the Pocket.  Only another chicken owner will understand this one.  You put on a coat you haven't worn in a while.  Pre-chicken days, you would have felt something in your pocket and you'd pull out a $10 bill.  Post chicken days, you feel something in your pocket and you pull out an egg.  One that's been in there for three weeks that you forgot about.  If you are lucky (so, so, so lucky), you would have reached you hand in gently to see what was in the pocket.  Unlucky, I don't even want to go there, but the end results in a lot of laundry.

8.  Remembering Breed Names.  Seeing as how there are eight million (more chicken math) types and breeds of chickens, and you are only going off the little sign above the feed trough at the feed store, you gotta remember what you are getting.  I know we have Barred Rocks and Rhode Island Reds, but we have three other kinds that I don't have a clue.  One is Something-Golden and the other is Something-Silver.  Aren't I a responsible chicken owner?  Keep judging because I don't have a clue what the last one is because it is Austrian.  Or Switzerland.  Or Germany.  Hell, I don't know.  She's got a mohawk.

9.  (This ones yucky, sorry, but I did promise honesty).  Sometimes you lose one.  As in die.  Either a predator gets it, it gets sick, something happens and you come home to find a lifeless critter.  By this time they have wormed their way into your heart it can be like losing the dog or cat.  They are a pet, no two ways around it.  Unfortunately people (non-chicken people) don't see it as a big deal.  They think it's a big deal to lose the family dog, but they don't have the same reaction as losing the family chicken.  But losing a pet (any pet) means a part of your heart is ripped out and buried in the ground and chickens are no different.  It sucks.

10.  The Chicken Club.  There are people out there - blogs, websites, books - that get just as involved/obsessed in chickens as you do.  While chickens might be cheaper than golf (emphasis on might), they are a fun hobby.  That results in scrambled eggs, so who can complain?

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