Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Chickens, Chickens, EVERYWHERE
Oh my gosh, I think I have turned the corner.And it's not a safe neighborhood I've wandered into. I think I need therapy. 4 of us ordered chickens together from Murray McMurray. There were something like 56 in the order all together. They showed up Monday morning at 8:30 am. I had to run to the Post Office before my first class of the day, bring them back to school, stick the box in the bathroom in our room, and hope the peeping didn't drive my co-workers insane before the end of the day. Of course, every. single. kid. who came into our room on Monday HAD to see them. I understand the allure - baby chicks are adorable. And we ordered a bunch of Bantams too, so some were EXTRA adorable, with their teeny tiny little feathered legs and feet. They weren't any bigger than a cotton ball. So cute. But, the end of the day rolled around and with it came my job of trying to sort out which chicks were which breed, so I could send them home with the right people. Do you have any idea how many breeds of chicks all look alike when they are babies? They might be really, really different as adults, but day old chicks? Sorry but the Buffs look an AWFUL lot like the Goldenwhatsohoosies. And black Silkies? Can't tell them apart from black Frizzles at this point. It's not a HUGE big deal, as we can always swap back later, but jeezlouise.
Oh, and apparently I was supposed to order 12 Rhode Island Reds, not 6. Yeah, I totally screwed up the entire order. So - we have chickens, but who knows what kind. Not enough of some, and TOO. MANY. BANTAMS.
And though I've learned a lot this first year of chicken ownership, I have learned VERY quickly this week that I simply do not know enough about Bantams. Apparently they are not just small chickens. They have been dying at an alarming rate, and I don't know why, or what to do about it. The first two to go were a big surprise. My daughter even took the second one to school and got a pipette from the science teacher and skipped her first period English class to try to keep it going. Too little too late I guess. When I got home yesterday, a third one was dead, and another one was on it's way out, and died overnight, despite hours and hours of care last night. They all seemed healthy when we left for school this morning, so I thought that we were out of the woods. I came home to one more totally squashed, and another one face down but breathing. OK, so now we've separated the Bantams from the other chickens. Should that have been obvious to me right from the start, that you can't keep them both together in the same brooder? I am just SO stressed out from holding dying chickens in my hand. I know there isn't a single parallel between a dying father and dying baby chicks, but I can't help but think "enough, already." So, although the friend who has yet to pick up her chicks because we live a couple hours apart thought she was only getting a few Bantams, guess what? She's getting ALL of them! If they die on HER watch, I won't feel bad. I just can't take any more dead babies here. The bigger chicks are all perfectly healthy and doing well. I guess I just don't know enough about Bantams. Not this year. Maybe not ever. Maybe I've met my match in chicken rearing.
Also on Monday, actually before I even made it to school and my PO chick delivery, another friend brought me back her Auracauna that turned out to be a rooster. She has zoning in her town, and we don't, so I knew that I would be getting back any roos. No big deal. I dropped him in the box in the back room where Houdini is living temporarily, the only Auracauna I have left out of my 4 that I TRIED to put in with the three other ladies last week (yeah, that worked out REAL well - the three big ladies terrified the littler ones, three of the four squeezed out of the coop and under the fence where my dog promptly ate them). I thought Houdini would be thrilled to have company, instead of her lonely cardboard box exile. It brings to mind how an incarcerated person would feel getting to go back into general population, getting a cell mate, after being in isolation. Well, Houdini was NOT suitably appreciative of "Speedy" being dropped into her confinement. They did not warm to each other immediately, and I had to separate them for the day. I did, however, come home to find them snuggled up together ON THE RECYCLING BIN. That would be OUT OF THE BOX. WHERE I LEFT THEM AT 8 AM. Thus, Houdini. Perhaps Speedy should be renamed Copperfield, as in David? I swear to god I do not know how they are getting out of this box. Oh well, at least they are friends now.
And as if this wasn't enough for this week, last night I went out the front door to go to the spring concert at school, and I stopped to watch a strange - as in, NOT MINE - chicken/rooster? strutting across my lawn. (It was a beautiful one, and I wish I could positively identify the breed. Lakenvelder is about the closest I can come to it.) Anyway, it came strutting across my lawn, up into my driveway and walked right into my coop. Since I headed to the coop to check it out, my three ladies came running and so I closed the door and left them in there together, because I figured someone would want this one back, and I didn't want to leave it out roaming where dogs might get it while we were gone. (yep, I'm a S-L-O-W learner sometimes, but I DO eventually get it!) By the time I came home from the concert, all four of them had already gone to roost in the coop, so I left them there for the night. This morning, they weren't fighting, just keeping their distance from one another, and it turns out it, too, is a roo. But, by the end of the day, it was STILL here, so... is it mine? This is so random. I live in town. There are a few people who keep chickens, but no one close, and none who keep THIS kind of chicken that I know of. Where on earth did it come from? Do people just know I'm the crazy chicken lady (I told you I had turned that awful corner) and so they are now just dropping unwanted roosters off in my yard like people do excess cats on farms?
What will tomorrow bring? Is it ok that I sorta just feel like curling up in a corner and rocking myself a bit? :)