Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cluck, Cluck!

As some of you already know (others will be shocked) we added three chickens to our acre this summer. We eat a carton and a half of eggs every week on average, and we were looking for something more economical and organic. Ok, and this just seemed like farmy fun times to me.
So, I went on a search in early May to find some chickenes for sale. I knew I wanted full grown chickens because I was too impatient to wait for eggs, and we did not have the equipment for chicks. I looked in the local bulletin and discovered a posting for 1 yr old chickens for sale at this farm in between Mannington and Fairmont. I called the man up and made an appointment to come and pick up the chickens.
Well, when Kole and I arrived at the farm, I knew things were not good. All of the animals were sickly looking, underfed, and had poor homes. The man who owned this place told me later that he was legally blind, but I still do not feel that is a valid excuse. I should have reported this situation to someone, but I didn't. I did ,however, "rescue" two chickens and the small price of ten dollars.
I brought them home in a crate and set them up with good food and water in the chicken tractor our friend Joe had created for us. Kole named them. The white chicken is Patricia (the most beautiful name in the world Kole says) and the red one is Victoria (after Zach's boss). They looked awful. And the definately were not giving us eggs. The sat in the egg box for most of that first month and looked pitiful. Here are some pictures so you can see just what I am talking about.

The below picture is of Victoria. She is a Rhode Island Red. She was missing most of her feathers, one eye would not open, and she would barely eat or drink anything.

You will notice that both chickens combs (the floppy part on the top of thier heads) were very small and pink. This is a sign that they are not laying and may even be sick.

Well, I tried everything to get these chickens to feel better. At first, I just thought they were underfed, so I made sure they had fresh water and more than enough food everyday. That wasn't working. SO I then decided that Something must be wrong with them. We were sure that Victoria was going to die. She just wobbled around, couldn't see, and barely ate anything. I wanted eggs!! I told them that everyday but they didn't listen to me. Since I though Vikkie was on her way out, I decided to get another chicken.
A friend of mine told me about someone she worked with who had a farm and a bunch of chickens. She said he would probably give me another one. It was hilariously disturbing when she came over to my house the next day with a box. She said Frank had given her a chicken and then given her a tour of his farm. She brought the box up to the chicken tractor and reached inside to pull out this chicken. The chicken was dead. And rigor mortis had already set in. I suppose the heat got to it on her hour and a half tour of the farm. We were very sad (she laid in the grass and cried), but I couldn't help but find a little humor in the situation.
Later on that week, I went with my friend to meet Frank the farmer. His farm was amazing. Lots of healthy animals that loved him. 300 acres of forest and farmland. I loved every minute of it. Frank is an older farmer who came to America when he was a young man, from Spain. He made his own chorizo and we got to sample some while on our visit. Frank told me to pick my chicken, so I did, he caught it and into the crate it went. We immediately left the farm (so as not to bring home another chicken for my husband to bury), and I sat the crate in the front seat with the air on full blast. And that is how our Barred Rock chicken, Francine, came to join the flock.
Francine (named after farmer Frank) layed eggs for about a week. Then she stopped. I was furious. I couldn't figure out what was going wrong. I researched the itnernet and found several things that could be wrong, called the vet and got some suggestions, and made a plan.
I went to tractor supply and bought vitamins and electrolytes, deworming medication, and an antibiotic to treat any number of poultry diseases. So much for organic eggs. Or so I thought.
I treated these little buggers for anything and everything. Still no eggs. This lasted for most of the summer.
Meanwhile, I had been a little lazy about watering my garden and we had a big rain mid August. A bunch of tomatoes split and had gnats flying around them, so I threw them in the chicken cage. The girls went nuts over them. So whenever I had a funky tomato, I threw it in. Low and behold, a week or so later, the girls started laying. First, Francine started up again. Then one day I went out and there were two eggs waiting on me. One was bigger than my hand!! And darker than any Francine had layed. I knew it had to come from Vikki (the one we thought would die). They have been laying faithfully ever since. I kept wondering though what was wrong with Patricia. She still wasn't laying although she looked much better.
Then it happened. Three days ago, Patricia layed her first egg. It is the smallest of the three, and completely white (she is a white leghorn), but there it was!! I was so pumped. So, for three days in a row I have gotten 3 eggs a day.
I don't really understand it, but successfully rescuing and recovering chickens to the point where they can lay eggs is a real sense of accomplishment for me. I feel really good everyday when I collect our eggs.
Oh and if you were wondering, the eggs are considered to be organic, because the meds they were given were out of their system by the time they started laying (read it on the directions).
Here are some "now" pictures for you to enjoy. They really do look so much better!

Here is Francine. I love how much character she has! And her feathers kinda remind me of a zebra.

Big floppy red combs mean eggs!!

And here they are!! One day, three eggs. I get so excited every time!!

Now you know all about our chicken saga of the summer!!
While I am no expert at raising chickens, if you have any questions about how we did things (or do things now) please ask=). I love talking about my girls.


Elizabeth said...

Oh, my goodness. What a great story! Thanks for are hilarious! I love that the rescue chickens are doing better and that you call them "your girls." :)

Elizabeth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Glenave Curtis said...

I LOVE this soap-opra! And I love it that you are so enthralled with chickens. It really is exciting to be successful, especially when the circumstances are much less than optimum. I'm proud of you, Megan.

Glenave Curtis said...

Oh, by-the-way, when are you going to get a rooster? You gotta hear a rooster crowing in the morning.

Aunt Becky said...

Your posts make me laugh. "Patricia is the most beautiful name in the whole world" - that boy is hilarious. What a great story - glad you are getting eggs after all of your hard work.

Megan said...

Mamaw, I would love to get a rooster! But I am pretty sure that the neighbors wouldn't love it as much as I=). So, we are going to wait for that dream house centered on 100 acres of farm land before we get one=).

Brittany said...

Ah!! This makes me so happy! I want some chickens so badly! Good for you!

Mom said...

How fun to catch up with your posts. I've kept up of course through the summer, but it's fun to read it all again. Yea for the "girls"! Your eggs are beautiful. Thanks for all your help with the hot pepper butter this afternoon too. Love you! I'm so proud of all your accomplishments too.

Deborah said...


This story absolutely made my night! You are such a great writer, and I can just "hear" you telling this story.

"Patricia"...what a crack-up!

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