The 18 chicks that were supposed to arrive at the end of March, and then mid-April, are still not here, and won't be until June. At this point we're not quite ready to believe we'll even get them then. The reason? Apparently the hatchery just can't keep up with the demand. We are very disappointed, as there's now no chance of our own home-grown (home-laid?) eggs before next spring, since if young hens don't start laying before winter, they won't at all until spring.
I'm trying to figure out why I am so disappointed. The best I can figure, I was counting on those chickens to make me feel like a real farmer. That's lower-case-f-farmer, not capital-f-farmer - I'm not entirely delusional. But somehow the chickens were going to make us official.
We've hunted around for local alternatives, but it's clear that for every chick looking for a home, there are about 10 homes looking for chicks. There are more options for buying adult hens, but they have a limited egg-laying lifespan, and without experience at figuring out how old a chicken is, we don't feel confident spending money on it. (For those of you who are interested, a hen's age can be determined by looking to see which of various body parts have been bleached, which happens sequentially as more and more eggs get laid. At least that's what we've read...) So, for now at least, it looks like we're stuck waiting for June.
It's making us reconsider the possibility of keeping one of the roosters we'll eventually get - it looks like having chicks to sell could be a nice little source of income.