rural living

Chick talks “Birds and Bees” A Cautionary Tale

It’s spring…kind of…and I’m thinking of the birds and the bees. We already have the birds, specifically the chickens, but we have no bees. We have fresh “free”eggs and wouldn’t it would be great to have fresh honey, too?

My husband hates bees. Hates…them! Every year the conversation between us goes like this:

“I’d like to get some bees.”

“If you got bees, who says they won’t just go next door? They sting. Why do I want anything that instinctively wants to harm me? For what?”

He had a point. (Pun intended.) So, I decided to table that discussion for next year…since currently we’re nursing our rooster back to health. (Soooo, we’re back to “just” having the birds!)

Thurston, the rooster is on my enclosed porch as he’s healing from a hawk attack. He was just doing his job to protect his ladies and BAM! He was scooped up and fought his way out of the talons of a bully chicken hawk. He’s now wearing a (custom made by moi) cone of shame to deter him from pecking himself to death.

So yesterday I went back to my second home, aka the feed store, to get medicine and food. (Just a reminder to those thinking of getting chickens for “free eggs”…there’s no such thing as “free”!) Since I knew what I needed I went directly to the order counter and paid for the goods.

“You qualify to receive 6 free baby chicks!”

“No…no…no. Oh, their so cute! I already have the heat lamp. My husband will give up his shower for another month, again. I’d just need a bag of crumbles….”

I slapped my own face and said…”NO!”
The sales lady said she understood and quickly walked away. (She basically dropped the chicks and ran!)

“I mean, I have enough to take care of right now!” (Did I just say that out loud?)

Feverishly I grabbed my supplies and exited the store. Surely someone else has had that same reaction…surely. Embarrassed, I scrambled out of that parking lot and insult to injury, my tires may have spun some gravel. (No one was harmed….that I knew.)

There’s so much to know when having chickens. Mine happen to be pets so I don’t cull them when they’re ill. I treat them. In fact, my husband almost died when he heard I’d taken Thurston to the vet…in my car. (I left the sun roof open. Gosh!)

I can’t believe I was able to walk away from then but sometimes you have to know your limits. I mean, they weren’t the kind of chickens I really liked so that helped! The saleswoman who knew me hollered as I was leaving the building.

“Next week we’re getting Buff Orpington’s!”

“Really?! I love these birds! Maybe next week.”

Did I really just say that? I was so proud I didn’t get the chicks and expressed my pleasure to the hubs in being able to walk out without a half dozen chicks. He was relieved, too. Then I told him about next week’s arrival of Buff Orpington’s and shockingly…he spoke…

“We’ll, since you’re not doing the bee hive…”.

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Chick has chickens until nature strikes

Moving to a rural community, my husband and I decided to attend a local Chicken Swap and imagine my surprise when I heard, “Hey Lady! Have you ever held a baby rooster?”

I knew this was a place where if you had an extra rooster or you needed or wanted a goat, you could find one.

The kid said if we took the rooster and the hen that we could borrow his crate for a week. As they fell asleep in my arms, I gazed at my husband and $30.00 later, we were carrying them to the truck.

On the way home, we were hungry so we stopped for fried chicken. I felt so guilty. We nervously laughed as we carried the fried “cousins” in the front seat while the 3 month old chicks were passengers in the back.

Over lunch, we concluded our need for a small coop. Back to the “Swap” we went to get the $300.00 coop for up to 6 chickens. That would be plenty of room, or so we thought.

My husband tells his fellow workers of our new additions to which one man tells him, “that rooster’s gonna’ kill that chick! You need more than one chick!” He calls me and says we better get a few more chicks, so I called to do just that.

It’s a rainy Sunday afternoon and “the chicken lady” says, “I’ll just pop ’em in your backyard.” I’m fine with that and my husband will be home to help me, so I’m not worried. “And I’m throwing one in for free!” (How nice of her, I thought!)

That evening in the rain, we chased them all from the woods into our newly cramped coop. (By the way, our “free”chick, named “JudEE”, has a hunchback. She’s no different but she does squawk and walk a bit sideways.) I’ve never been more soaked then I was after that little adventure.

Springtime came along and baby chicks were for sale at the local hardware store. I couldn’t resist.
We had to buy in quantities of 6! I then had to buy a lamp and well, they couldn’t be outside! The hubby sacrificed his bathroom and they were soon flying and pooping everywhere! I do mean everywhere, so I bought 6 more. It just made sense, to me. The more the merrier.

So, we built a coop for all 24 chickens! When I say “we”, I mean my loving husband aka domestic associate! That is love. He never said “no”. He loves my love of animals and he doesn’t even like eggs! Thank God, my neighbors do!

And, in time, I let them all out to roam the property or “free range. It was like a movie with all of these chickens of many colors out in the open. The trees were offering a glimpse of green. Ahhhh, I was in heaven. I took pictures and posted them everywhere!

Then, I started counting. Stupid chicken hawks took out 2 of our chicks. The following day, I came across two more limp bodies in the forest. It broke my heart. I dug graves for them and made little crosses to mark the spot. I sobbed while burying them.

A few days later all of the remaining chicks went to the gravesite and took their dirt baths. It was surreal and sad. And this was a daily ritual for days after that. It wasn’t until a week or so later that I learned we’d had a grave robber! They were gone. I didn’t dig the hole deep enough, apparently.

Interestingly enough, they didn’t discuss any of this “National Geographic” reality of nature in my “Chickens 101” class. And this was just the beginning.

That being said, the chick’s are coming to a local store next week. Will you be getting some? Do you think I’ll be getting more? Stay tuned.

Chick Can’t Do Secrets: The Tree

Keeping secrets from my husband is not just a bad idea. It’s impossible for me.

A decade ago we moved to a rural area. I wanted a fragrant and live Christmas tree. He said to wait until he returned home from a business trip. (He didn’t think I could get it home alone.) Like anyone who tried to start our fireplace alone and ended up meeting our neighbor. (Meeting him because he spotted the smoke spewing from the second floor windows of our house and responded! This same neighbor, who subsequently put the fire out for me…burned his eyebrows & arm!) I decided I could surely get a tree home alone.

Stopping at the local produce stand, I chose a beautiful tall tree. The big bubble glass lights were twinkling. the Christmas music was blaring. The boys loading it laughed loudly but said they’d strap it to my beetle bug. While raining and cold, I happily waved and pulled out onto the rural road. As soon as I gained any speed, that tree shot off the top of my car like fingers struggling to secure an oiled pig!

Reluctantly, I pulled over for a quick cry. In my rain sweat windows I saw the boys laughing hysterically; but the scene wasn’t over yet. I stepped out of my car to drag the tree back to the side of the road…but not until after a semi-truck came along and ran over it…transforming my beautiful tree to “road kill”.

Returning to the produce stand, they could barely contain themselves with laughter and tears. I was crying too, but I was simply embarrassed. The owner said,”How ’bout I deliver it to your home?” Gladly, I accepted but only if he could do it before my husband’s truck was in the driveway. (I wanted the hubs to know I could do this without him!) He offered to bring it in the house but I declined stating that would be more than I could of handled “alone”.

For many years, this “adventure” remained a secret from him, until his mom said,”What about the tree that year?”

We don’t do secrets anymore. (At least, that’s waft he thinks.)