Coming out of an abnormally cold winter for Texas, Darling Husband informs me he has placed an order for more chickens. We had somewhere around 35 chickens already, but a few did not survive Snow-Megeddon. Also, we usually lose a few chickens in the summer due to predators and accidental drowning. Its the risk of a free range lifestyle for a chicken, and as far as I can tell its a level of risk the chickens find acceptable. To minimize chicken fatality on the farm, I try not to get too attached to any single chicken or even name them. Having a name or being a favorite is like capital punishment for a chicken. They drop dead once you name them or declare your affinity for them. I don’t make the rules. Its just a law of the natural world.
So Darling Husband places his order with the chicken supplier and a few weeks later 10 newly hatched peeps arrive. That brings us to around 45-50 chickens. I think we’re good, a few too many chickens, but inevitably some of these peeps may not make it to adulthood or a few of the existing ladies are going to cross the rainbow bridge in the near future. Two weeks later Darling Husband gets a call from the chicken supplier that the breeds he requested that were on backorder had arrived. So now we add another 12 or so peeps to the mix. To make things worse, some little chicken goes MIA. Its sad. We assume she’s dead. There is a brief moment of silence in her honor. Apparently the MIA chicken was just playing an Olympic level game of hide and seek. She survived on her own hiding in the horse pasture, with minimal coverage, during some of the craziest hail storms of the spring and returned 21 days later with 6 little peeps she hatched all on her own. I admire her commitment to motherhood, but I steal all of her babies to put them in with the rest of the “store bought” peeps. Experience has taught me that mother hens get bored with motherhood after about three days, and the other adult chickens will peck the babies to death.
Now we have close to 70 chickens running around. Chicken population is always a fluid number on the farm since they are constantly moving and all tend to resemble each other. I was concerned that we had a few too many, but consoled myself with the thought that if history is anything to go by, not all of these chickens would survive until fall. Except they did! Every morning I would curse the feather balls camping out under my truck and carport. I trip over them as I’m walking to the barn, because they are constantly darting in front and under my feet. As I clean their mess up on a daily basis, I almost wished some of them would go to meet their maker, or at least venture across the street to the neighbor’s farm and stay. For the first time since we started keeping god’s least intelligent creatures, they somehow managed to beat the odds, and survive natural selection and the car traffic from the neighborhood behind us.
The funny thing about the chickens is that our family doesn’t consume nearly enough eggs to justify this many chickens running around. Occasionally I use some eggs for baking or Offspring wants scrambled eggs, but a dozen can easily last our family two weeks. With 70 chickens running around we are getting close to 2 dozen a day! Even though they aren’t exactly pets, I couldn’t bring myself to eat any of them. They are mildly entertaining watching them do chicken things around the yard, but I feel that experience could be just as enjoyable minus 25 or so…
For now I curse the chickens as I trip over them on my way down to the barn. I laugh hysterically as 60 plus chickens follow Darling Husband wherever he’s headed. When Offspring is bouncing off the walls I send him outside to chase them knowing there is no chance he can actually catch them. On the upside, we’ve had a more consistent egg supply than previous years. We supply eggs to the farmer’s market next door when their chickens don’t produce enough to keep up with demand. Thankfully we have friends with a bakery that are more than happy to take farm fresh eggs off our hands. Offspring is building a nice little savings account from his egg sales. He’s probably the only one seeing any profit from the farm!