Which came first...the chicken or the egg? No doubt the chicken came before the egg, 78 chickens to be exact. The only problem here on our little farm, is that the first batch of 38 day old chicks that we received from the hatchery were wiped out when they were 11 weeks old in a two night chicken feast by a predator which we have yet to identify or eliminate. For those of you who have never raised chickens...that's half way to farm fresh eggs. I could go into the gory details of trying to clean up the mess that was left behind, and the hearts that were broken when pet chickens "Tinkerbell and Dora" died such a violent death, but let me just say that I can still see some of the feathers stuck in the grass and trees six months later.
But we all have a pioneer spirit in our hearts and we will not be easily discouraged. We received our second set of day old chicks in July. It was kind and generous of the hatchery to add the extra 11 birds for "warmth," but all 11 are roosters that have been eating me out of all my extra pocket money. We slaughtered one, wow! I learned an important lesson that day... don't give the rope holding the head of the chicken to a five year old girl. She let go of the rope just as the ax came down. It was pure chaos from there. I could also give lots of gory details here, but I will keep those for my own enjoyment. This 5 year old girl had no problem with the chicken loosing it's head, but she screamed and let the rope go when she thought her hand was going to be chopped off too. I'm not sure where she came up with that conclusion, especially since I walked both children at least 20 times through what was going to happen. This wasn't the first time that they have witnessed a chicken having it's head chopped off. But thinking back, it was the first time that they have ever seen their mom doing the chopping. Needless to say, the other 10 roosters are still living happily in the chicken house. I threaten them every time I see them with the recipes they could be. At least for now, while the weather is so cold, they are safe, and Frank Perdue is getting some of my hard earned money so that I can keep a pot of chicken soup on the stove to warm our bellies on these cold winter days.
I think yesterday it was all of 12 degrees. When it is that cold outside, I don't go out if I don't have to. And since I keep hearing on the news that children aren't spending enough time outdoors, I send my son! "Hurry child, run to the chicken house and see if we have any eggs. I'll stay inside and make you breakfast." Ten minutes after coming inside the house from finishing his chores, he goes back to his coat pocket and says"Oh, ya, I've got something for you," and pulls out this beauty. The only problem is that due to the cold, the egg split open when it froze rock solid. Until the weather warms we will be on egg duty round the clock to figure out just what time the hens are laying. With one of our older flocks you could set your clock to the clucking coming out of the hen house announcing the laying of eggs. I just hope that it's after I've had at least a cup of coffee or two!