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Apocalyptic Chickens

We decided to get chickens shortly after we moved in. Well, I decided to get chickens. Hubs was mostly supportive but as usual he was on a different timeline than I was. When I get an idea, I tend to go for it. He has more patience. So he thought the chickens would be coming in the spring. Spring chickens, if you will. I had other plans. However, I knew little to nothing regarding chicken rearing so I started some research, we all know where this is going to end up. Actually, you probably don’t. After determining that I did not want chicks due to the amount of supplies, labor, and emotional distress they would surely bring into my life, I settled on pullets. What’s a pullet, you say? A pullet is a young hen that is at egg bearing age. Perfect, eggs are what we were after. Despite living in the country it was harder than anticipated to find a farm that sold pullets. I put in an email to my friendly farmer neighbors asking if they had any connections or advice. Within seconds of hitting send my phone was ringing.

“Hi Inge, I saw you were interested in some chickens, we actually got a bunch on order so if you want six of those you can. They’re Red Sex Links, real good egg layers.” Farmer L was not one to beat around the bush.

Let’s all take a moment and appreciate the name of these chickens. In the moment of the call I thought she had said Red Sex Legs. My mind went places. 

“Yes, thank you so much for calling. I didn’t realize you sold chickens but I should have assumed because you are a farm and you sell a lot of things.”

“Oh no, we don’t sell chickens.” She cut in.

“Ah. I see.” I didn’t, I didn’t see at all.

“No, we don’t sell chickens, but I’ll sell you some of ours. We put in an order with a supplier so when he gets enough orders he’ll bring ‘em on down and we’ll meet up with him on the side of 81 somewhere.” She said it nonchalantly, like it was the most reasonable thing in the world.

“I see, so you’re buying chickens, and I can buy six of them FROM you, but you don’t sell chickens?”

“Well yeah. It’s 8 bucks a chicken.”

I think you can see my confusion here.

“I see, and we’ll meet him on the side of the interstate and choose our chickens from a crate of chickens.”

“Yep, he’s just gotta get enough orders to make it worth the trip down here so I’ll give you a call when it’s go-time and we’ll head out.” I’m not exaggerating, she said go-time.

I got off the phone and casually walked out to the garage to chat with Hubs. I stood there for a while strategizing how to bring up these pending chickens. 

“So I talked with Farmer L.”

“Oh yeah? She called you?”

“Mhm, she had a lead on some chickens for me…”

And then I just told him the whole story. 

“So when are we getting the chickens?” It was a fair question and one I’d been wondering as well.

“I don’t know, it could be tomorrow, it could be two weeks from now, it could be in a month. It’s kind of like the Second Coming, we don’t know when but we need to be ready.”

And then I got in the truck and drove down to Tractor Supply to buy a chicken coop. And then I spent the next two days staining the coop and moving it to various places on our property until I found the one that was Goldilocks. (Surely we’re not the only family that uses that term as an adjective?) And then I sat there wondering when I would get the call that the chickens were ready. 

When I relayed this story to my Dad he chimed in with a helpful “maybe God’ll send a ‘Chicken the Baptist’ to prepare ye the way of the chickens.” I considered titling this post “Chicken the Baptist” but that seemed a little sacrilegious.

Now, I’m sure when I started this story you thought it would end with a passel of chickens arriving the next day or perhaps purchasing a type of chicken that doesn’t actually lay eggs, or worse yet buying a few roosters and thinking they were chickens. But clearly that’s not where this is going to end up. This is going to end up with me on the side of the interstate choosing some chickens from a huge truck on the day of the apocalypse. I didn’t get those chickens from Farmer L for a very long time. So long, in fact, that I went out and sourced my own chickens. They were much more expensive, a much further drive, but allegedly equally good layers. I’ll give you a hint, we were 4 months into owning chickens and not a one had laid an egg. At this point these girls were basically middle aged. But anyway I bought 4 chickens and I feel very attached to them, I put nice pine chips in their coop, bought the fancy food bowl and made a special watering bucket. I let them out in the morning and close their little door in the evening. It’s good, it’s nice to have small things to care for, besides 3 children, and a spouse, and a dog. It’s fine, I have plenty of spare time to pour love and energy into creatures that give nothing back, not even eggs.

I believe these are actually Red Sex Link chickens, which I found out later are thus named because of a genetic trait that “auto-sexes” them, roosters are born with a white patch on their heads and females have none. I think I prefer the term Sex Leg Chickens better, which funnily enough is what Hubs thought they were called up until I wrote this post.

For the record, I did get the chickens from Farmer L and they are probably my favorites because of their pretty colors. Also, the chickens did eventually start laying eggs. It was actually a Christmas Eve surprise, we went out to the coop that night and there were eggs! Unfortunately, we had an unexpected cold snap this Christmas so the first eggs were frozen because we didn’t know they were there. Now our chickens faithfully lay every day but they hold onto their high maintenance status as Hubs had to create a custom water bucket for them with a heating wire and insulation to keep it from freezing. We also installed a light in their coop that goes on at 5 a.m. to make them think the days are longer. Apparently chickens only lay eggs when they have enough sunshine.

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