Thursday, April 1, 2010

Fowl Days are Ahead

Here's how to convince your spouse to let you get chickens (without threatening your relationship). Start by saying "I would love to get some goats. Just a few, maybe the angora ones. We could milk them, make cheese, shave them and sell the wool. The dogs would love having goats to play with. No? No goats? Peacocks would be fun then! They're big, very loud, and a bit cranky but I could collect their feathers and wouldn't that be cool? Free-range peacocks? No? No peacocks. Hmm. I guess chickens would be useful. They're sort of low maintenance and we'd have fresh eggs. Yeah? You're good with chickens? Cool!" Feel free to use the above manipulation on your own spouse.

The order is in at the farm store. Six Aracaunas, three Barred Rock and five Sal Link. The Aracaunas are the ones I really wanted and was thrilled that the local farm store was offering them. They are nicknamed 'the Easter Egg Chicken' because they lay colored eggs, anywhere from turquoise to dark olive. The birds are delivered as one to three day old chicks. In addition to the chicks I'm getting, I ordered some for my mom, plus three ducklings for her. I think there'll be 25 total chicks/ducklings on delivery.

This is the Great Chicken Experiment. For some reason, birds in general hate me. They like to bite me if I try to pet them, like in a pet store, and they will scream and cause a scene when I walk in. I had a roommate whose birds would hiss and spit at me if I sat on the couch (they ended up covered with a blanket). I don't know what it is since I am really good with other animals, especially reptiles. My mother's chickens chase me and push me around, pecking at my legs for their sunflower seeds. But I'm going to train mine early. No pecking!! I'm determined to get eggs from these chickens but they may make me pay for them in blood.

What does this all mean? It means we've got a ton of work to do getting the existing chicken coop in order. It's a bit run down, much of the trim paint gone and the doors don't exactly work. I'll be putting access doors on the outside so I can harvest
the eggs without having to go inside, which will probably smell just a bit. There's electricity inside but the GFI is tripped and won't reset, that warrants investigation. Mom thinks the nesting boxes are too high so they'll get a little access ramp. The roof just looks sad and I'm adding gutters to collect the rain water. I'm changing the exterior color, which currently matches the icky brown of the house. Wino will need to re-fence the yard with chicken wire since they can get out of the cattle wire that's there now. Phew! Deadline: late June, maybe early July. I'll pick up the chickens on May 21 and then they'll be in the dog kennel staying warm and growing for several weeks. They should be laying by fall and with 12 chickens, at one egg per day, I'll be inundated by free-range, corn fed fresh eggs. That's the plan. Want some?

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