Monday, January 30, 2012

# 188 - He's the Farmer; I'm the Dell; I Think

Back in March of 2011, Deputy Dave took me to the local Tractor Supply store to buy our first set of chicks. I probably stood in that store hovering over the crates observing and holding the little chicks for a good hour as I tried to determine which ones appeared the most vibrant and healthy, and yes, the CUTEST!

Dicky-Darn-Darn, they were ALL cuties! I kind of wanted to move into the store with all the baby creatures. I guess most of us farmer-at-heart people have that urge when around little fuzzy ones.

We had no idea that two of the seven we had purchased that day had actually been roos and not pullets. I saw a sign on the side of the crate that said, "PULLET," so I kept asking, "What is a pullet?" on that day and no one had an answer. Hello? Isn't this a FARM supply store? I can see that the title of the store's name has "TRACTOR" in, What EXACTLY is a pullet? Relax, I now know the answer, but as I tried to find out the definition on my very first chicken-adventure day in the big world, I was frustrated. No, I don't have an I-Phone, a Smart Phone or a Hand-Held-Anything except a $14.00 cell phone from answers to be found in that contraption.

We kept the chicks in the master bathtub, in a container. Then, they grew
larger and were allowed to roam in the tub on newspaper and pine shavings
Here is a shot of the dogs being so enamored by the chicks that they're
LITERALLY falling asleep trying to keep an eye on the little birds.
Bonding has begun.
I could not believe that an answer to the pullet question could not be found in the store's attendants. Obviously, they weren't all PULLETS in the crate because we got two roosters. Is it possible for a rooster to be a pullet I had wondered on that day? If you are like me, during the time when I didn't know the answer to this compelling question, a pullet is a young HEN, a female, usually a young laying hen under a year old. To me, a pullet is equivalent to us saying, "Miss" to the young lady.

And I still wonder how in the heck did we end up with two roosters in a box full of little "Miss" chicks?

The young man helping us make our final selection of chicks told us that his sure-fire FFA way of telling whether or not a chick was female or male was to cradle the bottom part of the head/skull very gently between two fingers and if the chicken feet come up's a male; however, if the feet start drifting and stretching downward in submission toward the ground, then it's a female.

Again, I guess the "Pullet" sign was senseless if we were checking for signs of whether the chicks were male or female.

Well, after we got home with the chicks, there were a couple of little boogers that we tested again and they kept bringing their little legs up into a fighting manner.

Houston --- we have a problem.

Turns out that two of the chicks were indeed roosters. We kept them for as long as possible, which meant, until they found their rooster vocal cords in full swing.

This city gal learned that roosters do not only COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO at the break of dawn, they COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO all day long...all freakin day long...just in our the suburbs...they make sure that you cannot hide your chickens any longer from the local chicken police. Every COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO had me scrambling to throw out a bit more feed to shut them up, I was whipped.

Anyway, my immediate surrounding neighbors who share our fences have been wonderful about our chickens. They lift their children and grand-children above the fence-line to see the chickens. The kids playing in the yard diagonal to our house hear a chicken clucking and the kids start making clucking noises and laugh hysterically. I found all the sounds,sights and intrigue revolving around the chickens to be wonderful.

My next door neighbor had just had open heart surgery and she told me that she loved sitting in her backyard and listening to the chickens because it reminded her of growing up in the country...of the country sounds and peaceful existence. She loved hearing the roosters find their voice.

But, we found a new home nearby for the roosters, and we've gone to check on them several times. They're big boys now. Well, except for the little Bantam rooster; he was an adorable guy of this "babydoll" chicken breed. If we'd been on our land, it would have been perfect because Miss Speckles would've had her little matched Mr Speckles and we'd have Baby Speckles all over the place.


This brings me to some ponderings...Do chickens cross-breed? Would a Bantam have a chick with a Buff Orpington? Is this a No-No in the chicken world? As you all know, I'm farm-sexually-illiterate. I think Farmers are highly advanced in this area; they've GOT to be to make it on a farm. No pun intended, pure accident.

I love my Bantam and Buff Orpington chickens, they are very docile and seem to be fairly intelligent for a chicken, but I'd not want to assist in creating a raging chicken monster by cross-breeding two chickens that were never destined to find each other on the free range. No science experiments on our farm, thank you.

Now, back to catering to my A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Disorder)...As for Miss Speckles and her being a victim of a full-blown dog attack the other day, she survived being locked in the jaws of a powerful Australian Shepherd. I am still in awe that I was spared having to spend the last few days bawling over the loss of my Miss Speckles. Thank God she survived...she's one tough bird!

And I'm actually walking around kicking myself in the rear for getting THIS ATTACHED TO CHICKENS! I mean, I knew I was going to really love HAVING CHICKENS, but I didn't think I'd actually FALL IN LOVE with the chickens.

Since we're nearing the day that the "For Sale" sign goes in our front about seven days, I'm also thinking about us moving to the acreage and raising our own meat. What kind of farmer will I make if I can't tolerate the prospect of one of my chickens being ripped apart? What kind of farmer will I make if I'm ready to fight a dog over one of my chickens trapped in his jaws? What kind of farmer will I make if I found myself needing to lie down after the chicken attack because the could-have-been scenarios were playing too loudly in my head?

And now I wonder...What find of farmer will I make when... comes time to eat the little piggies?

I guess I'm the "Dell."

The Farmer and The Dell would probably suit our household. Even if I really don't know what the Dell a "Dell" actually is.

Regardless, I'll do my best to be a good Dell while also trying to be a good Farmer.


A Primitive Homestead said...

Last spring when I got my first little flock at Tractor Supply I asked many questions this being my first pick of chicks. Like you the clerks could not answer my questions. I wondered then how do you sell them? I had my chicken coop ordered & was waiting for the call to let me know it was done. I already put the downpayment on it. Nonrefundable at that. I was afraid I would have a chicken coop but no chickens. After many more visits to the store I took home what I thought to be 6 hens that turned out to be five hens & one rooster. My grandchildren all love the chickens. It seems all children do. The chickens seem to know when they are liked. They have no fear then. My heart sank the day I could not find Lucy hen. I believed her to be gone. Late in the day I heard a soft cackling from the shrubs. Hiding she was. Hurt weak & bleeding from her neck. Over time Lucy healed but always stays close by when left to roam. When I say her name she becomes still while crouching to the ground waiting to be picked up & held. Chickens are smart as you know. Blessings!

Tombstone Livestock said...

FYI, yes chickens can cross breed, so can sheep, goats, ducks, geese and cattle. That is why I never trust a gopher snake, but so far I have never heard of a cross bred snake.

So if you want more than one breed of chicken and want to preserve the breed you will need to keep them separated.

Tombstone Livestock said...

I forgot BTW I never heard the story of turning a chick upside down and sexing it by watching it's feet. I think usually if they advertise as pullets they will only guarantee about 95% accuracy. Ducks are easier to check.

Charade said...

Okay, I know nothing of chickens. But I know a little bit about landforms such as leas and dells. The song isn't about the farmer AND the dell, it's about the farmer IN the dell - as in the one that lives in a wooded valley. But you can still be the dell if you want and let the farmer do the slaughtering. ;>)

Michelle said...

I never know how to tell if they were boys or girls. You learn something new every day. And since I have chickens I really need to know this for future adventures. Thanks for sharing the information. I really enjoyed reading your post.

LindaG said...

Yup. You are definitely not the dell. ;)
But as Charade said, you could always leave the slaughtering to the Farmer. :)

And yes, if a rooster can mount a hen, they can mate. That's how a lot of breeds got started. :)

You all have a wonderful Tuesday!

Mike said...

I ain't saying nothing about the farmer in the dell.

There's many ways to check the sex of a chicken. Some breeds are easier than others. With my Polands, I was taught the lay of their tophat was the way to tell. But, even that isn't 100%. Some say you never know until they either lay an egg or crow.


Rae said...

Oh yeah. Lots of mutt chickens out there. :)

I think we must have gotten really lucky with our pullet choices, because out of 23 birds, only one was a roo (and what a roo he is). Dunder starts crowing as soon as he either sees a light go on in the house, or hears my alarm clock go off (so, yeah, early as 4am sometimes... Lol)

Glad to hear Miss Speckles is doing well. Nothing wrong with getting attached to a chicken. I love my little Goldie ameraucana, and my Buff, Belina, is a sweetheart.

You'll make a great farmer. There's nothing wrong with caring for your critters, or with being sad if the unthinkable happens. Much like with food critters, it's a quality of life thing. Your chickens can be super safe in a reinforced coop and run and live really long lives. Or, they can be outside in a yard, eating bugs and grass and scratching around (though less safe). Some people do one, some the other, no fault with either. Just a choice, rationalize either or as suits you. :)

Oh, and as for eating the cute little piggies... Yeah. Trust me. Once they're a couple hundred lbs, they aren't that cute anymore, and can be a bit scary. While our porkers weren't aggressive or anything. I wouldn't be so keen on being knocked down and stepped on by a 200-300lb hog. I think they're much cuter in the freezer... And on my plate. :)

Vickie said...

Cute post - you're going to make a fine farmergal - I just know it! The desire is there, so you'll do fine!

I don't think the slaughter of the pigs would bother me either. Hogs are not pretty and sweet. My brother raised hogs - they stunk to high heaven, unless they are free-range pastured hogs. Might be different with a calf. Don't get attached to your meat birds, but you can love on your egg-hens!