Tuesday, May 17, 2011

#8 - Sexually-illiterate Farmers!

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to have my own chickens. If someone doesn't want chickens, I am slightly puzzled by their lack of chicken-love. Of course, when I was growing up, my mother didn't share my passion for chickens. My friends would not even discuss such a "disgusting" matter, and I didn't know anyone who even had a chicken. But, they sure looked interesting on t.v. and in books.

It's weird because my mother loved cooking eggs. She could cook every kind of international gourmet egg dish. No doubt, my mom could create Egg Heaven in your mouth.

Even though my mother could not be convinced to raise chickens, she understood the value of fresh farm eggs. For most of my childhood, she paid extra to have a small farmer deliver a large carton of eggs straight to our front door, every week. Often, I'd rush out of the house to meet the farmer at his truck built with special racks to hold rows of egg cartons. He was so happy to deliver his eggs and to know that we were enjoying them so much.

As a grown woman who still loves eggs, I often cringe when having to buy them at the local store. Nothing can beat the taste of a farm fresh egg. Even one day can make a difference in taste.

My own family loves eggs, but to tell the truth, it's my husband who makes the delicious egg dishes in this household. He can make a Quiche that's out of this world. But, guess who helped him make his first Quiche? Yes, it was my mother. My husband and my mother loved to cook together. Those two were such a delightful, happy pair in the kitchen! My husband was a natural good cook, but he learned a lot from my mother's old-fashioned cooking methods.

Today, I have chickens in my backyard. Finally! We bought them several weeks ago from a local Tractor Supply store, but they couldn't tell us the sex of the chickens nor the breed. The pen that held the chickens for sale simply said, "Pullets - Six Minimum." So, we bought seven and my husband hoped we'd get lucky with at least five winners.

A box of seven chicks!!

Me finally getting to hold a baby chick! If I can't be in the country
full-time yet, I will bring some of it to me in the suburbs.
A nice young teenager at Tractor Supply tried to help us pick out our chickens; he would gently dangle a chicken by the lower skull and he vowed that the sex could be determined by whether the chicken would "fight" with its legs slashing through the air to show it was a male or by a slow submissive, relaxed position to prove it is a female. At the time, we were very impressed with this young man's scientific method of "sexing" a chicken. Well, we have some chickens that are getting pretty big and even though I am definitely NOT an expert on chickens, it sure seems as if two look just like roosters!

X-rated warning alert for the following few paragraphs, but this IS a part of my Farm Life Lessons experience:

I still cannot get over the terminology of "sexing" a chicken. Somehow, every time the subject comes up, I feel as if I am listening to dirty words. I am learning.

City talk can definitely include a terrible mess of awful cuss words, but farmers and ranchers sure can talk about intensely personal details about very private matters. It's two different worlds. People in the city pay big bucks to have all of their domesticated animals "fixed." Country people openly discuss mating season.

I don't understand mating seasons just yet. A mating season would imply a "time-off" season for mating. Right? I can't even believe my own ignorance in this area, but sadly I am discovering that most of my fellow city residents are just as clueless. In fact, if I question them about their knowledge on the issue, they turn red and want to immediately change the subject. What? I was just asking about your thoughts on sexing?

I guess I will figure out down the road how many other farm animals must be "sexed." I don't want to even think about all of the other surprising farm moments that my disbelieving eyes will be exposed to. On that subject, I dread the day when I stumble upon my cute little farm animals...being animals. Augh.

Howdy the chicken herding dog.
Lyla, the surrogate chicken mama.
Since our first purchase of chicks, I've learned a valuable tip from an old ranch-hand about determining a chick's goes..."Bring the chicks home and patiently wait to see what you get."

I am also discovering that my family is farm-sexually-illiterate.

My baby holding one of the chicks.
I think she's a country girl at heart too, but she
will vehemently argue this point as she considers
herself a "city girl" through and through.

Early May 2011 - There's a rooster. At least one that we know of and
we don't really know of the breed names. A blog reader, Rae, has helped me in blog entry #6 to partly figure it out.
Garden Tub Coop for seven chicks.
We must be doing something right because we came home with seven chicks, so little and sweet. I was one dedicated woman - I gave up my huge, luxurious master bathroom garden tub for them to use as a temporary home for their first three weeks at the house. Of course, we had pine bark shavings to line the bottom of the tub with a heat lamp overhead attached to our camera tripod. Then, we moved them to a brand-spanking-new chicken tractor that my husband built from scratch.

Chicken Tractor designed and built by my handsome man!

They are living it up in
The Chicken Ranch!
Today, several weeks later, we have six chickens and one rooster, no, make that five chickens and two roosters, and they are still adorable! Since they are alive and well, we must be doing something right with our first go around with raising chicks. God must have been shining down on us because we only followed the directions on the outside of the Tractor Supply chick box and they still look pretty good!! Since I don't follow instructions very well, I appreciate the Tractor Supply store for their clear guidelines printed on the chick take-home box, and I thank God for sparing me farm horrors too early in my chicken experience!

Well, my Farm Life Lessons are just getting warmed up. I am trying to figure out what to do with my TWO adorable roosters so that they won't end up as part of a chicken Alfredo platter.


Rae said...

You crack me up. :)

Glad to hear you ended up with a fair number of girls, and only a couple roos! Our chickens and geese were a lot easier to raise than we thought they'd be (though we're both farm kids, neither of us had raised birds). Pretty hardy little guys.

Lana C. said...

Rae, you are a brave woman to raise geese. One time, years ago, my young daughters and I were at a park and were chased all the way back to our car by a flock of angry, scary geese. But, I did raise a duck one time, so I know it can be a beautiful experience, when you know them well. I am you eat the goose eggs?

Rae said...

Well, the geese are only a couple months old, so no eggs I believe until spring. I've read that they aren't particularly fertile their first year, so we'll eat any eggs we get next year. The year after that, if they seem so inclined, we'll let one or two of the gals try and hatch some of their own. :)

I'm stoked, as I haven't had goose eggs since I was a kid.

Lana C. said...

I don't think I've ever even seen a goose egg, but I've heard they are delicious and rich. I look forward to reading your blog and following the pictures and such for the geese. I have so many questions...I'll have to send them to you as you make posts so I won't bombard you!! haha I bet you are is so rewarding to nurture something and have it give back. Nature is beautiful like that. Love it!

Rae said...

Always happy to try and answer questions. Word of warning, though... We're flying by the seat of our pants on a lot of what we're doing. Lol! It's an adventure, and we're loving every minute of it! (And reading a LOT of books and blogs and discussion forums). If you do have somethig to ask though, there's an email link for me on my profile.

Kristin @ Going Country said...

Wow--you ARE dedicated. We kicked our chicks out the bathroom after less than 24 hours, because they REEKED. Of course, we had two dozen.

Your husband's chicken tractor is very aesthetically pleasing. I'll have to show that one to MY husband so if he ever builds one again, we might end up with one that maybe looks a little better. Although, ours was all made of free materials, which do tend to look a little rougher, but are, well, free..

Lana C. said...

Hey Kristin!

I actually thought the smell was going to be horrendous, but it wasn't bad, but you are right about it probably being because I only had 7 of them and I kept the exhuast fan running a lot of the time.

Little detail...I failed to mention that the Chicken Tractor was not yet complete when we bought the chicks, but we were over-protective anyway since it was our first set of chicks, ever. We nearly cooked them one night cause the heat lamp was too close, luckily we didn't wake up to roasted chicks. I'm sure it's a delecacy somewhere in the world.

My husband will be happy to hear that you like his Chicken Tractor. But, I like FREE also!!!! I think the free version is pretty awesome cause I actually like the look of things built from what you can find --- it's got automatic character!

Thanks for reading! I think you are on my "Favorite Neighbors" list. Let me know if I am wrong, I'll add you.

Anonymous said...

You could keep one rooster and raise more chicks.....the fun never ends. B.

Lana C. said...

B...I would love to keep one rooster, but I'm sitting on the edge of my seat every morning to see how loud their morning singing will be. Since we are currently backyard farmers, I am too close to neighbors and don't want to intrude on their peaceful mornings. Augh! I don't know how I'll be able to part with these two putting it off for as long as I can...