Maybe I Need Some Chickens

It seems to me that this time of year I get kind of antsy. I know fall is coming because leaves are starting to fall off trees, plants are fading and kids are going back to school. You can't fool me. It seems that no matter what the thermometer says during the day... there's that one morning late in August when you know it's time for summer to end.

Being retired is great but sometimes it really gets boring. I am constantly on the look out for something that will keep me busy, make me laugh and cause me to do a little work. Yes, Mr. S checks all of these boxes but we've gotten this whole togetherness thing down to the point that we answer questions before they are asked. The horror of boredom is just around the corner. That's when you start playing tricks on each other just to get a reaction. This level must be avoided at all costs.

Chickens. I just love them and all their parts. You may take that in any way it strikes you. In my farm years we always had chickens. My great grandparents had chickens. My grandparents and parents had chickens. I believe this is enough to call it genetic. I love this new genetics craze... you can blame a lot of stuff on it. Now, back to my sincere genetically based need for a chicken.

Mr. S is not buying in to this and we all know it's hard to run a farm with half of one chicken.

His belief is that this project would be the happily retired man's nightmare. First, he'd have to build a coup because our neighborhood is not chicken-friendly. According to him, it's crawling with raccoons, bears, coyotes and cougars. The sky above is clogged with chicken hawks and eagles. Wild Kingdom aside, he maintains that HIS dog Grover will be a chicken eater. I don't even want to think of that.

With all of this possible bloodshed taken into account, he says our chicken (s) would need a steel cage. It would have to be specially ordered because we'd need a covered chicken yard. So much for the bug eating part of our chicken friendly dream home. I remind him that I am the QUEEN of special ordering and he reminds me of our bank account balance. Another discussion of my need for chickens bites the dust.

The frosting on his cake of denial is when reminds me of the semi-funny stories of chickens I have told him. Damned me. Blabber mouth. WHY oh why did I tell him about my friend who had a chicken hawk in her chicken coup? Why did I tell him about my own chickens who went to the creek to bathe and never came back? Why did I tell him about the chickens who sensed that we'd seeded the lawn and came up to the house to eat the seed and try out the kids skateboard?

Why did I tell him I had to go to the hospital after being attacked by a Rhode Island Red rooster. Honest... it wasn't that big of a deal... really, but it did ruin a new pair of Levis. That same rooster's hens would sit in my lap, singing the chicken song.

You know I love facts and will need scientific information when I appeal the Mr. S decision. The date of this hearing is yet to be disclosed because I find it's best to catch him in a certain mood... get his signature, and run. I just thought up the signature thing today and I doubt it will work but you never know.

We'll start with Rhode Island Reds. In my case, I let the affore named rooster run the barn. This was a big mistake for a big bird. It wasn't until recently that I found out you don't NEED a rooster for hens to lay. Wish I'd known that earlier. The hens are lovely and will easily lay 300 eggs a year. They have melodic voices. My father had a pet Red hen when he lived in Rhode Island. Henny Penny liked to sit on his shoulder. Why? They remember faces. See? More genetic evidence. Oh, and chickens are smarter than you might think.

Another prolific layer of eggs is the White Leghorn... they are smaller than the Reds but like them, they tolerate changes of temperatures well and are good “talkers.” In general terms, hens start laying eggs at about six months of age and will continue through their lives. They may slow down as they age... but who doesn't? The average lifespan of a hen is 8-10 years. That's a long time to enjoy a crooning friend.

Chickens lose their feathers every fall and grow new ones to protect them from winter. Oh, and if you find a chicken with red ear lobes, she'll lay beautiful brown eggs for you. White lobes? White eggs. Aracuna? Those little beauties will give you lovely colored eggs. To me the color is not so important... each egg is a gift.

In the end, it is true that you don't have to have a rooster to have hens. But if you are married to a rooster you have to patiently wait to get your hen. :)

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