We have too many damn chickens.
We’ve always had them since we’ve been out here. We built the chicken coop many years ago (the year is written on one of the beams in the barn), and always had a few eggs, a crowing rooster, the whole bit. As our daughters grew up, we got a few different breeds, finding the ones who were docile and good egg layers as well!
Well, the girls moved from showing chickens (it’s a tough show, let me tell you what) to showing Brown Swiss (big, brown puppies), but the chickens stuck around. Actually, our youngest daughter is almost 21 and we still have one of the birds she showed. However, the chickens we have now are more mixed breeds than the pure breds that were shown. Last summer, in the midst of the “oh crap” portion of the pandemic, we bought 25 chickens: 15 broilers (fast growing birds, bred specifically for their meat) and 10 Rhode Island Reds, a good breed of egg layers. The broilers were fed out and went to Camp Freezer (think about it) and the layers went into the pen with the other 10 birds we had.
The plan was we’d butched the older hens and have just the younger ones and a rooster. Well, the rooster died (old age) and we never got the hens butchered. So, our pen in packed right now! They have food, watch, fresh straw, and a place to roost and lay eggs, but I need to expand out the area we have for them.
Here’s the problem. My wife does a farm unit, so she’s got the incubator at school with 8 eggs in it. She candled them today (with a high powered light, “looked” inside the shell to see if the chick is forming) and all 8 are growing! I borrowed an incubator (because, why not??) and I have 8 eggs with chicks inside as well.
One, I love hatching baby chicks! They are so cute, and it’s just a way to be sustainable. Two, we need a rooster do be able to do this next year. We got eggs from friends who have a rooster, so to get one of our own again would be great! And finally, I’m planning to selling the year old layers (still will be good produced for another year), butchering the older hens, and having a fresh flock, ready to lay as summer is finished up!
I sell eggs at school, and can usually sell enough to buy the food. It will never be a money maker for us, not at all, but our chickens are pretty much free range, so their yolks are much darker and have a more “eggy” taste. Making noodles with them is awesome because they take that regular color and make it much more yellow. My wife’s sister and a teacher at her school both commented on how much better they taste, so who am I to deny them of that?? It’s just fun to have that little thing to get you up in the morning and to gather the eggs in the evening.
Anyway, decisions will need to be made for this summer and the flock, but as it is, we have no eggs in our fridge right now because they’ve all be purchased! If I could just expand my operations, who knows what we could do?
Or, just enjoy what we have and love life I have, with a few extra birds.
I believe choice number two is the winner.