"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Maximum Chicken

We have four new chickens. That's not actually a picture of any one of them (camera still broken) but it is a picture I got off the web of a chicken in full molt, just to give you an idea how completely pathetic these new chickens are. They were my sister's chickens. Her old, worn out chickens. No, they are perfectly good chickens, two barred rocks and two araucunas, about a year and a half old, just what you like in a laying hen. But back in september, she and Marcus bought a whole flock of pullets, ten big, shiny, late-model rhode island reds. They were gorgeous as chickens can be all right, they just had one teeny little problem: they didn't lay eggs.

They kept waiting. The lady they bought them from said, "oh, they'll start any day now, my other batch that is only three weeks older are laying already. They'll start!" September went by. October went by. November went by. It was maddening, watching all these big sleek hens eat a fortune in organic lay mash and produce nothing but copious amounts of birdshit. Meanwhile, at least they still had the original four, which kept popping out two or three eggs a week even as the sun started setting around 4:00 in the afternoon. Nice, reliable, ugly-as-sin chickens.

But my sister, God love her, is mightily swayed by appearances and she just didn't like the shabby old chickens. The minute the first big brown egg slid out of a big red butt (last week - go figure), she offered me the old chickens. Of course, I scooped them up. I can't resist a free animal, even a molty chicken. 

Of course, the day I went to get them it was raining cats and dogs. And even though they were in a little-bitty 4x8 foot coop, I still couldn't just reach in and grab them. They all scooched to the back and huddled there. My sister couldn't help me; she is genetically incapable of handling a live chicken. She's tried, but she just can't touch them. It's like me and big hairy spiders, I guess. So eventually I heaved a big sigh and crouched down and got INSIDE the coop, squeeing right up against the filthy perches and grabbed them one by one. As chickens do, they went bersek, flapping and churning up gobs of crap. By the time I had them all in the cage in my van, I was liberally plastered. Enough so that I had to call the kid's school and tell them I'd be late picking them up, since I had to take a shower and change. 

Hope they keep laying eggs over here.