Sometimes the days hit me so fast and so hard that I've barely picked myself up from one when another knocks me on the ground. Does that ever happen to you? It doesn't leave much time for writing.
Our family inherited 12 chickens when we moved into our house. I've been amazed at the way they recycle food scraps into eggs. We put vegetable peelings, left over dinner scraps (no meat), and stale bread into the chicken bucket along with some hard red wheat and Voila! Those little hens turn them into fresh eggs! What an ingenious creation!
My kids have learned some responsibility with the chickens. Getting up in winter before the sun so they could feed and water them was a bit stressful, but seeing them come running in shouting, "I found 9 egg!" made our family happy. =)
Sure as the world turns, though, life changes. As the weather warmed up, we began letting the chickens out more during the day so they could wander the yard. Who knew happiness could be a dust bath and a fresh bug? I still jump sometimes when I see a chicken looking in the back door.
The problem was-- not everyone thinks it's cute to see poultry in the back yard. And our next door neighbors fall into that category. Apparently, Chickens in Yard = Stress. As far as they are concerned. And we started hearing about it. Big time.
After being told in no uncertain terms not to let the hens wander onto their property, we had a family chicken conference. How do you tell a hen where to go? And why did the chickens cross the ditch? We started having chicken duty, where one of us would stay in the yard with them any time they were out, which seriously limited their free-range time. Eventually we decided, in order to be fair to the birds (who get seriously stressed being cooped up all day every day- no pun intended), we needed to find them new homes.
At this point we only had 11 hens, since one disappeared a few weeks ago. Coyote? Probably. I placed an ad and my phone started ringing off the hook.
One lady just found out that last fall her dog ate two of her little neighbor girl's chickens. She doesn't have the dog anymore, and came to get 3 of our hens to give the girl next door. Then there were 8.
A man from the next town over brought his 7 year old son with him to look at the hens. They put one in a box I had, and drove home with another sitting on the little boy's lap. The boy was grinning from ear to ear. The hen looked ok with the situation. My kids have held them a a lot. Then there were 6.
A mom picked out 3 hens all different colors. Her family is just getting started with chickens and she was happy to find such pretty ones. Then there were 3.
I got a call from a little hispanic boy who asked here we live. I told him, and he asked how far that was from his town. I told him it's about 2 hours. He said, "Hold on. Mama!" (rapid Spanish in the background) Then to me, "Two hours? Are you sure?" I said yes, and he sounded so disappointed. He called again to ask the name of our town. Later that night a man named Jose (did I spell that right?) called and asked if we still had the chickens and if were really 2 hours from his town. I said yes, and he sighed. "My son hoped he could get some chickens. But 2 hours is a lot of gas." I agreed. "Well, I go talk with my son. What is your address?"
About 7 pm last night, the doorbell rang. It was Jose. He had a new little chicken coop in the back of his truck and looked so pleased when he saw the three hens. "They are beautiful! My son will be so happy!" He put them in the coop and made the two hour drive back home. And then there were none.
I'm sad that we don't have chickens any more. I'll miss the fresh eggs, the chores for my kids, and the happiness of seeing my children discovering eggs in the laying boxes. My kids are sad, too. But we're happy for the girl whose hens were replaced, the 7 year old little boy, and especially the boy little boy from 2 hours away. He has a good dad.
Way, to go, Jose! =D Sometimes, two hours isn't far at all.
What are you happy about today?