We recently increased our chicken numbers! We had been talking about getting some new chicks for a while, or maybe doing another trade with our neighbor (we had already gotten the first chickens from our neighbor in a trade for sugarwood…let me tell you, I wasn’t convinced it was an even trade considering the amount of work we put into the sugarwood, but that’s another story). Then my mom and her springer spaniel came to visit…we started the visit with three chickens roaming the property and ended with two chickens roaming the property and one in the freezer.
Being a bird dog, but not used to chickens, my mom’s dog unfortunately snagged one of the hens. Once we realized he had one, he ran around the pond. My mom followed nearly falling on the slippery mud that has become exposed with the pond water level dropping. Chicken in mouth, the dog hopped in the water and swam calmly and quietly right across the pond. Getting angry with him wasn’t the way to go at this point, so we excitedly called him over and he dropped his prize on the grass. Still warm, I put the hen in a plastic bag. She was of impressive weight for the little dog to be running around with, but I suppose she was buoyant in the water. I wasn’t sure if she was worth saving for meat, especially since she probably died with a full stomach, etc. so I tossed her in the freezer until I could get ahold of D. I wasn’t going to try to process her. I have some idea, but have never done it myself and wouldn’t want to attempt it unless D thought it wise. He didn’t. She was so old that it wasn’t worth the work and she would have only been useful to make stock. We already have an old bird in the freezer waiting for that role anyway. So into the compost she went. Still useful, just in another way.
So now we were down to two hens. Ideally we had wanted six and we did, indeed, begin with six from the neighbor, but we had been at three for almost a year. With it being close to fall in these parts and the first frost not far, getting fresh chicks would have required a heat lamp and some extra doings once the season really changed. Instead, we did a handy Craigslist search and found some 12 week old pullets. D picked them up one night and they were already in the coop when I got home. They still have quite some time before they will be laying eggs themselves, but they are settling in well. There are four new birds – an araucana, a buff orpington, a rhode island red, and a barred rock. I have been welcoming them with meals of cucumbers and zucchini, even some green beans thrown in for variety. Luckily everyone seems pleased.