Our chickens finally started laying eggs this fall – eggs which our kids have enjoyed gathering. We like to notice the difference in sizes and colors, and I love to hear a 4-year-old’s take on things. One day when Avery was putting an egg in the refrigerator, she said, “This one has polka-dots.” Later she was calling them freckles. The dots were so small that I didn’t even notice them until I looked closely.
Another of our chickens lays eggs that are longer and thinner than the rest of them. The first time Avery found one of those, she said, “I bet that chicken had a hard time laying that one.”
Our chickens have had traumatic lives so far. The roaming neighborhood dogs have cut down on the numbers of laying hens, and being left without enough water over Thanksgiving seemed to cut down on the number of eggs that the remainder were laying.
Roger was checking them late Tuesday evening when he discovered a possum heading into the chicken house. (If you don’t believe in violence towards animals, skip to the next paragraph.) He found a murder weapon and attacked the ridiculous animal – who decided to play dead. Not the best method of defense when you’re being attacked by a vengeful chicken farmer. Although it did make it easier for Roger to finish him off.
When Roger was telling me the story later, I was startled when he told me what he had done with the possum – my mind works too fast. I had a firm mental image in my head before he completed the sentence. He said, “I put him in the garden. We’ll eat him next summer….. in our green beans.”
The next morning when Roger went out to collect eggs, there were a few more than he was expecting to find. Maybe temporary dehydration didn’t affect their laying as much as we’d thought…
Our family also got to experience hatching baby chicks together for the first time. We had borrowed an incubator from a friend down the road. My hopes for this process were not too high, as she had put a total of 84 eggs in the thing and “nary a one hatched.” I figured – with odds like that, the problem has got to be with the incubator and not the eggs.
Maybe it was their rooster. Because Roger put in 11 eggs, and we now have 7 cute little chicks.
I’ll go ahead and point out the lack of wisdom and planning here. Baby chicks are very, very cute – but it doesn’t last long. And before the cuteness wears off, the stink begins. And when that smell is located in your basement (because where else do you keep helpless chickens all winter???) you learn quickly that it’s not only heat that rises.
Okay. Enough complaining. This past spring there was a big box in my laundry room (just off my kitchen) full of stinky chickens. It was a definite relief to have them moved to the basement. I’m grateful that this batch has started out their miserable lives down there. The smell really isn’t that bad unless we’re actually downstairs.
The amusing part of this story is that any of those chicks that happen to be roosters will also end their lives there in our basement – chilling in the freezer. Isn’t that a nice bookend for their life story?