There are so many topics I could blog about today, but they're all overwhelming and depressing. I will take the time to send out a hollah to Jack, who shrugged off his mortal coil on Sunday. We didn't always see eye to eye, but we shared a love for my sister which bonded us forever. Give my love to the Big Guy and if you meet up with a certain few you-know-who's, you know what to say. We love and miss you always.
So anyway, chickens. I want to get some chickens, but of course I need a chicken coop for that. Apparently you can buy these premade on the internet for several hundred or even a couple of thousand dollars. What the heck? These are for *chickens* fer crying out loud! I did find a build-it-yourself plan that appears easy enough that even I could complete it relatively unscathed. But I need to figure out why the heck I want chickens so badly. I mean, its not like they are going to love me back. And I don't eat eggs that often. J does, but not enough to require our own chickens. And I don't have time to sell eggs, I'm never here anyway. So what appeals? Who knows. For some reason this is an idea that won't let go of me, and we all know what happens when that happens.
We had chickens when I was a kid. We had Rhode Island Reds, which were our main layers, and eventually we also got some little Cochen Bantams which I showed at fair and got blue ribbons for. They laid little teeny eggs that you could eat, but they were more for looks than egg production. My dad built this awesome henhouse with a side door and eight laying boxes, a ramp up into the front from the meshed-in yard, and wooden roosts. (I wish my dad could still do stuff like that, I'd have a chicken coop in no time and it would be a really nice one, too) My brother and I used to have clean it out periodically and put some kind of chemical on the floor and roosts ( I seem to remember it was diesel oil?) to control the tick and mite population. Oh, and do you know you can feed egg shells to your chickens? Apparently it helps to restore the calcium they lose in the egg-laying process. We fed them kitchen and garden scraps and a store-bought cracked-corn mixture. My other job was to keep the feeders and waterers full. Mom would stuff plate scrapings in an empty milk container and whenever it was full I'd bring it down to the coop and toss it in. They really liked salad leavings.
Our chickens weren't particularly smart or friendly, but I remember one old hen that didn't seem to mind being caught and picked up and petted. We let a batch or two of chicks hatch each year, and they were lovely cuddly little things, up until they became pullets, whereupon they started to take on the personality of their mothers and became mindless eating, pooping, egg-squirting machines.
The best and worst part was the slaughter. Once then hens were too old to lay, they became the basis for stew. And honestly, that old saying "running around like a chicken with its head cut off?" Its totally true. Separate the head and the body takes a while to figure out no one's running the show. It was totally horrifying and at the same time completely fascinating. Its hard to get too attached to a chicken, so while I took no enjoyment from the deaths of the old biddies, I found it hard to get too upset either. I like chicken stew with homemade dumplings.