Expanding the flock, & a story of Zombie Chicken

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“On the 9th day God looked down and said, this farmer may create a mess, so God made a farmer’s wife.”

 

One of our latest family discussions has been based on expanding our chicken flock. Hubby has left it up to me for the most part. If I decide I’m up for getting chicks this year, it will basically be up to me to take care of them as he will be working out of town and likely home only on weekends for a bit. The other part of the flock expansion is the possibility of adding butcher chickens (I believe he plans to go with Cornish cross, but it’s not important).

Now my hesitation doesn’t come from the idea of added work, it really won’t be that much. But here’s my not so secret secret: chickens kind of creep me out. Dumb right? But anyone who ever messed with a goose as a kid probably has their heart rate increase a bit when a group of bids swarm you to see if you have snacks. Pigs really really freak me out, but that story is for another time.

Basically my biggest hang up is past experience, so let me tell you the story of the Zombie Chicken. Several years back we tried the butcher chicken idea. At that time I had a strict out of sight out of mind policy for the chickens. At first I had agreed to get a few chickens. Hubby had made a great point about it being fun for our son and would be nice to have farm fresh eggs. So one day I look in on the chicks and there’s a handful running around being cute. A couple days later I look in and I ask, if we got more, seemed like there was more than before. Hubby says no no they just got bigger and take up more space. I look in a few days later and now I see more. Definitely more because now they are different size and color! We went from 5ish to 15ish. Now I don’t remember if I objected to butcher chickens, but they came too.

Well at this point in our lives I was working as a 911 dispatcher doing shift work and had a baby to care for. Hubby was working construction as you may guess about the time the chickens started to get out of the cute chick phase, construction season ramped up and hubby was gone before light to around dark, working 14+ hour shifts.

So one day I go to the mail and Ooooh! My new IPhone! Now this was when the iPhone had just come out, and I had no concept of what iTunes was or that I had to have it on my phone to make it work. So one phone is shut down because I had my new iPhone activated, and I have no house phone. I can’t figure out why I have a picture of the earth and no working phone. I go out to take it to the AT&T store, and what do I find….. Nasty horrid rotting dead chicken under the front of my SUV.

Totally grossed out I go to grab a shovel and get it buried somewhere. CHICKEN GOT UP AND RAN FROM ME!!!! I had really thought this thing was dead. I mean, it was rotting! It had a big chunk of blacked flesh and exposed bone. It had a few spots like this. No way was this alive! It was. So now I’m going, well I have to kill it, that’s horrible. I can’t even call anyone to help me or take care of it for me.  And I was not about to touch it, so that left me with shooting it. I go in and get a shotgun, good reach, great bird hunting gun, should work right? Dumb chicken ran under the new riding lawn mower! So I’m looking like a crazed woman chasing a damn chicken with rotting legs around a riding lawn mower and my SUV. So I give up and go in and get my pistol, I have what I call snake rounds for it; they are basically small shotgun shells for a hand gun. So I go back out, get it far enough away from stuff I can shoot it, and take my shot. Bird screams & starts flapping around; I scream and jump around squealing at how disgusting this whole mess is. What do I hear on the breeze? Turns out my neighbor (150yrds down the road) has been watching and is now laughing his butt off at my antics. Can this day get much worse? I yell “ya could have come to my rescue!” he yells “No this is great!”

Yeah, great, for him. Turns out Zombie Chicken was not the only chicken out. Turns out chickens are a bit cannibalistic and the others rushed out and started pecking the now dead zombie! GROSS! I guess my day could get worse. So I chase off other chickens, lock them up, and check the other butcher chickens. They were rough looking, but holding their own. Hubby got an ear full when he got home, and the rest of the butcher chickens were taken care of immediately.

So now, when I hear Hubby say, “I think we should get some butcher chickens”, my heart starts to pick up speed, and my skin crawls a bit. I know he has definitely changed over the years and our current farm has shown that he would be fine with the extra responsibility, but I still worry about the time. His work will be doing a big fish study this year, and as a result he will be pulling long hours and possibly working 7 days a week for a couple prime months of summer. Will he have time? Am I up to the task if he doesn’t?

Now that I’ve told my story again, I’m going with no butcher chickens, but I’m okay with expanding the egg layers.

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