Chicken Adoption Day
At the end of my road lives a woman who manages a chicken farm. It’s not a typical, old-fashioned chicken farm. She is provided hundreds of chickens which are pushed hard to lay 10 to 12 fertilized eggs DAILY! After 9 months of being brutalized by roosters, these poor hens are worn out from non-stop mating and laying. When their time is up, their time is up! The chickens are swept up and destined for slaughter and the cycle begins again with a new brood of chickens.
Occasionally, the vendor inadvertently leaves a few chickens behind but my neighbor is not permitted to keep them. According to her contract, she cannot have any other chickens on her farm except those under contract, not even a few of her own for eggs or meat. Typically, the stragglers are killed off but I asked (way back in October) if I could take a few and try my hand at chicken farming.
My learning curve is steep but I believe success is a reasonable goal. However, if I should fail or if a fox, raccoon or o’possum tends to be more experienced at these things than I, these girls at least gained a few more days of life. And not just life as usual but life without some horny rooster riding her back, without a light on 24/7 and outside of a crowded chicken house, never to feel the grass under her feet or feel the warmth of the sun’s rays. Even 24 hours of freedom is better than none.
On Friday, I got the call. Five chickens are available but I need to pick them up the next day! I’m not prepared. I don’t have anything here for chickens, least of all a coop. But I managed to successfully convert a secured storage room in my lambing shed into a temporary coop. The only window is now secured with chicken wire. The room is filled with bedding, a few roosts, one large nesting bin, water, food, grit and some special treats like meal worms. They will stay in this room for three or four days, just enough time to get it in their little brains this is home now. Come Wednesday, I’ll set up a small run and allow them to roam a bit outside to graze and grub it out for a while. I’ll start to provide feed only at night.
Right now they look rough, all except one. But I do look forward to the day when their feathers start to return and they gain a little weight and perhaps lay a couple of eggs here and there. If we can get to the next stage of recovery for these girls, then I’ll add some new chicks to the flock.
But, as for today, Chicken Adoption Day, I am very excited about these new additions to the homestead. Actually, they go down in SpitFire Hollow history as being the first livestock on the farm!