Sunday, 10 January 2010

Don't Count Your Chickens...

A few months ago, we realized a dream of raising backyard chickens. After a long year of planning, building, waiting and dreaming, we finally welcomed eight little chicks to Seaside Farms.

Since that time, we've been on a bit of a roller coaster ride with a few ups and lots of downs! When chick #1 perished, we held a small family funeral for our fluffy little friend. The death of chick #2 was just as shocking, but we all swallowed the news a little easier. By the time chicks #4 and #5 passed on, we were starting to get just a little paranoid and suspicious! With #5 packed in the trunk on ice, I headed to the Nova Scotia Agricultural College for help. For $52.50 they performed a detailed autopsy on our chicken and provided me with the grim news - a disease called Marek's (and a few other minor parasites to boot). Wow! Dreams of hens scratching around the backyard and farm fresh eggs were dashed in an instant. We were advised to prepare ourselves for further deaths. Time passed and just before the holidays we lost #6. That left us with two ladies in the hen house. The first six to perish were all Black Australorps. Our two remaining hens had been obtained from a different breeder and were Ameraucanas - also known as Easter Egg Chickens for their green shelled eggs. We certainly weren't holding out much hope for these two. We continued to care for them but remained emotionally detached in fear of getting hurt!

On one of the coldest days of the year, December 30th, I found my husband pounding on the kitchen door with a huge grin on his face. An egg, a beautiful GREEN egg was in his hand! We all rejoiced and celebrated the egg and hoped it was a sign our chicken woes were behind us, a sign of a new beginning. Convinced our two hens were going to survive, I opened up my heart a little and grew attached to our friends. Yesterday we decided the ladies needed company to keep them warm this winter and headed out to pick up a little Barred Rock rooster we lovingly named "Rocky". After a three hour round trip, we arrived home with Rocky and were eager to introduce him to his girlfriends. We called and called but my favorite hen Spec was nowhere to be found. I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Our friends usually greet us eagerly when we pull up the driveway. Hubby went searching and followed her footsteps into the woods......soon emerging with the sad news that Spec had been killed by a hawk. What timing! We were all very, very sad to say the least. Hubby turned around, hopped in the car and headed back on that three hour trip to fetch me three new hens! He's a good man I tell you. Exhausted, he arrived home last night with a new flock for us. We spent today getting to know our friends and quietly observing them as they settled into their new surroundings.

Today for lunch we dined on homemade toast and the last of Spec's green eggs. I'm saving a couple to blow out and keep as a reminder of our feathered friend and the first egg. Spec is the darker hen in this photo. This was taken about an hour before she perished. Muffy is playing peekaboo with them at the kitchen door, a favorite hang out spot of theirs.

Lessons learned - don't count your chickens, even if they have hatched! I will admire and like my new friends, but I won't fall in love again!


Steph said...

I would LOVE to keep chickens, but alas, despite the fact that people in this city are allowed 8 cats per household, I'm not allowed chickens.

I almost misread the part about your lunch and was very relieved that you ate the last of Spec's remaining eggs (and not the last of Spec's remains).

The Wool Fairy said...

We are lucky to be zoned rural...still dreaming of sheep.

Oh glad you read the lunch part properly. You would have thought us crazy for sure. Not an appetizing thought for sure!

Sharing Ethiopia said...

keep your heart open! Im sure the kids will fall in love again and so will you :)

You are a pioneer!!!!


The Wool Fairy said...

Ha, ha! Oh I am far from a pioneer woman that's for sure....but the chickens are fun and I've already got a new fave!

Earth Mama said...

Im so sorry about your chickens. We just lost all of ours, not to predetors, but to the damn laws in our township. You can read our fight here: ( We fought a good hard fight, and managed to put off finding them a new home until the last possible moment, but this past sunday we drove them over to a friends parents house who will love them too. We are so sad to not see them in our backyard and I know even thought it sounds silly, that a chicken can definitely steal you heart.