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More Chickens

I love eggs. I put them in my smoothies raw. I fry them runny, sunny side up to top 3 to 4 at a time over my oatmeal and avocado toast. Liberal amounts of coarse grain salt, olive oil and/or butter is applied. Nutritional yeast will also dust the occasion with its fish food-like appearance and funky punch.

Several years ago I built a chicken coop all by myself in my backyard. I painted it fluorescent green with purple trim. Chickens are ridiculous, so their home should be too.

A ridiculous looking green and purple chicken coop
I think it's art.

I started my poultry journey with six chicks. Then and now I buy them for a few bucks each from a local farm supply store. A lady just plucks them from a glass and wood display and sets them into a little fold up cardboard carton. Kind of like a take home box from a restaurant complete with a handle on top.

Chicken in a cardboard carton
Happy meal?

Anyway that first batch grew up in my basement and garage while I finished building the coop and run. A 'run' is a fenced in area outside the actually coop part where the birds sleep, lay eggs and poop piles of feces to be removed regularly. I use a snow shovel.

Nowadays the run is where my adult birds spend 100% of their time when not in the coop. This is because that inaugural group of 6 became 3 one day when a hawk visited death upon my flock. I was home when it happened and was alerted to the event when I heard wings flapping against the side of my house. The hawk had one of the chickens up against the side of my house. That was one of the places they liked to hang out when I let them free range in my yard. The raptor killed 2 more immediately after that. It did not go away until I was able to chase down the remaining birds and get them into the run.

With an additional one dying a few weeks later, perhaps from the stress of trauma, I bought 4 new chicks to staff up once more. But one turned out to be a rooster. These birds are all supposed to be hens but I've never seen this guaranteed and to be fair, its apparently a difficult skill to sex a newborn chick.

The rooster was cool for a while. He looked very pretty and hearing that authentic rooster crow really drove home the rustic aesthetic of my house and surroundings. However, this rooster was bent on killing one my hens. This particular girl was my favorite of the group. The most personable I guess. And she was one of the O.Gs. So even though I don't give them names, I did care enough to put an end to the bloodshed. Asking around I found an Amish fellow whose trade it was to dispatch and butcher chickens and other livestock from surrounding family farms. He chuckled when I asking him how much. "5 bucks".

The rooster, for his sins, became a fresh roast. But it was not good. These type of chickens, maybe because of the breed, do not make for good eating. The mostly uneaten, gamey carcass did make for good chicken stock though and many good bowls of soup resulted.

So, starting with 6 birds in 2017, losing 4 and adding 3 (minus the rooster) in 2021 makes 5? But I actually have only 4 in the coop now. I just remembered, one died mysteriously after the rooster met its Amish fate. Maybe she died of heart ache. Not a memorable hen in any case. Remember I don't name them.

3 adult chickens standing in a run
Some of the old guard

So with only 4 birds producing an ever shriveling number of eggs (2 of those girls are going on 6 years now, past their egg-y prime), I obtained 4 new cadets from the local Farm & Fleet. They were placed into the same take home carton, from the same glass paneled cases with the same glove-less farm woman hands. As I write this bird flu is a thing, so the daily cavalier handling of birds by these employees is surprising.

But my 4 new birds, after about 3 weeks, seem completely healthy and are hopefully all hens. I know where to go if not though. 🍗

A Rhode Island Red chick
A Rhode Island Red chick