So . . . once again, optimism triumphs over experience.
Longtime readers of the Bee Drunken adventures-in-farming will know about Ralph and Lauren -- who used to be our chickens. Perhaps they are someone else's chickens now; maybe they didn't like the fact that my oldest daughter kept changing their names? Possibly, they wandered off to seek greener pastures. Quite probably, the wily fox got them -- although he didn't leave any feathery evidence. All we know for sure is that when we got home from our Spanish cycling trip, those chickies were gone. They had flown the coop.
I will admit that I dealt well with my grave loss. After all, who was the one who waded through the mud all through the winter to feed them? Who scraped all of the chicken poo and hay off the eggs? Whose flower borders were wrecked, more than once?
As time went by, though, my hard feelings softened. As I gazed out of our kitchen window, my eyes would inevitably fall on the empty hen hut. And I would feel just a teensy bit sad.
There were practical reasons, too, to miss our poultry. For one thing, the stale bread kept piling up. Also, as I bake a lot, we never seemed to have eggs anymore. I was always forgetting to buy them after three years of a steady supply.
Unsurprisingly, when my youngest daughter started making noise about getting more chickens it really wasn't that difficult to wear me down. Yes, I am a sucker. Not only that, instead of holding the line at two chickens (one for each child), we left the farm with FOUR chickens -- two of which (whom?) won't even be earning their keep for another 9 months. "But Mommy, they are so fluffy and cute!" Yea, yea.
Do you dear bloggy readers realize just how many breeds of chickens there are?
We bought our chickens from a 13 year old astoundingly knowledgeable farmer's son. He had a dozen breeds at least, and he tried his best to educate us on their finer points: how to tell males from females when they are young, what color of eggs they each have, etc. I was somewhat overwhelmed, though, by the profusion of farm animals. The main thing that I learned, and can pass on to you, is that an unruly chicken may be "tamed" by grasping it by the legs and flipping it upside-down. Apparently, the blood rushes to its meager brain and it immediately goes docile for you. Well, it worked for the farmer's son; I didn't test the technique, actually.
My youngest daughter immediately determined that we must have the "white silkie" breed. They lay very small eggs, but compensate for this shortcoming by being soft and cuddly. Frankly, I think they are the "dumb blondes" of the chicken world. It has already become obvious that they don't eat a lot of carbs, either. Ralph and Lauren were plain, but they were sturdy and reliable egg layers. They could dispatch half a loaf of bread, no problem. These dainty dimbos haven't laid an egg yet and they keep trying to eat the baby chick food.
One of my daughter's friends raises chickens, and her only comment on the white silkies was: They are really stupid chickens. Since all poultry is fairly dumb, this is hardly a recommendation.
Still, my daughters spent all weekend gazing adoringly at them. They promised me that, unlike last time, they are going to take care of these chickens.
I give it a week. Maybe two.