It’s a bit of a miracle that the chickens survived long enough to lay eggs!
Well… I should be a bit more forthcoming… Not all the chickens survived long enough… We currently have 4 hens, but they aren’t the same 4 chickens we started with. A few months ago, we found 2 of our Rhode Island Reds dead in the chicken coop. We didn’t know what had happened. We thought that maybe an animal got to it somehow.
I dawned my rubber gloves and got my CSI on. No blood. No signs of forced entry. Just two dead chickens. It was completely mysterious.
You would think that when you see dead chickens, you’d think about eating them, but our chickens had become pets… And once an animal finds that little niche in your brain that makes them a pet, you can’t eat them. In fact, the thought was horrific and disgusting. They got a proper burial in the garbage can wrapped in a Walmart bag.
Once the modest funeral was over, I went over to the remaining 2 chickens to try and figure out what might have happened. They seemed jumpy. Like they were freaked out. Their heads darted around in spasms. I thought that perhaps they were mourning. When I opened the coop door, they rushed me. They ran to my feet and started frantically dancing around me. Like they were warning me of some unseen danger. Like there were ghosts in the coop.
I checked the food. The food container was nearly full even though it’s been about a week since I filled it last. I had been using chick feeder. It keeps the chickens from sitting in the food and pooping in it. Apparently, they don’t know not to do that.
Next I checked the water. The water was a bit dirty, so I wondered if they were thirsty. Maybe they died of thirst? I refilled the water jug, but the chicken showed no interest. They still remained close to me and frantically pecked around. Finally, I got a scoop of feed from the feed bucket and put on the ground. The chickens went crazy! They ate like there was no tomorrow. They were climbing over each other to eat the feed.
That’s strange. But, the chicken feeder was still pretty full… I got the chicken feeder out and put it next to the cup of feed. The chickens showed no interest in eating from the feeder. Once all of the feed was gone from the cup, they looked at the feeder, but didn’t eat from it. I opened the top of the feeder. The chickens then went crazy and started eating out of the feeder.
Then it all clicked into place…. Kobayashi…. The chickens’ heads grew to large for the chick feeder holes. The dead chickens starved to death….
I was a bit heart-broken when I realized that I had starved our chickens to death. It was inadvertent, but that did little to assuage the guilt. After giving the remaining chickens plenty to eat, we got a new feeder (for adult chickens).
A few weeks later, after our mourning period had passed, we decided that we would get 2 more chickens to bring our chicken count to the city’s legal limit of four again. If you’re raising one chicken, you might as well raise 4. It’s not that much more work. Tenille and I decided that since we have the opportunity, we’ll buy a different breed just so we can get a variety and see what the differences are. We decided to get 2 Black Austrolorps that were about 4 weeks old. Apparently, they are good egg-layers, too.
Some folks told me that the advantage of raising chickens from chicks is that they get attached to you. I was a bit skeptical about this, but it’s completely true. The two Rhode Island Reds will come running toward me whenever I go outside. They’re like dogs excited to see their master. They also don’t mind being picked up and petted. Outside the coop, they’ll just follow you around.
The two Austrolorps go running the other direction and usually hide. It’s tough to get them out of the coop because they’re so skittish. If they do get out of the coop, then there’s the problem of trying to get them back in the coop. Many times, Caleb and I have had to surround them, chase them into a bush, then grab them out of a branch. It might seem like it’s saving a few months to get chickens when they’re older, but I’ll never get used chickens again…
Anyway, the fun news is that one of the chickens is now laying eggs. I was told by a member of our stake presidency that the secret to good egg production is to tithe on your eggs. I wasn’t sure if you’re supposed to tithe the first egg (the first-born), or the tenth egg. I hope it’s not the first egg, because we ate it. Cracked it open in our frying pan, and surprise! It was twins! We all got a taste of the first fruits. (tasted like egg…)