Thursday, September 30, 2010

Chicken empire part 2

I think when Kim looks back on her life she will divide it into two eras: Before Chickens and After Chickens. Or Chicken-less and Chicken-full. Because her life is different now: she is obsessed.

Just to recap and to bring you up to speed on recent developments, here is a brief history of chickens at Mucky Boots.

(1) We started with 10 Buff Orpington day-old chicks. They grew and grew and revealed themselves to be 5 cockerels and 5 pullets. Construction requirements: one brooder, then one brooder with roosts, then two brooders with roosts, then two brooders with roosts and fancy elevated feeders and waterers to prevent the chicks from pooping in their own food and water.

(2) When the chicks got bigger they needed fresh air and grass and bugs, so we took them on day trips outside. Construction requirements: one chicken tractor.

(3) When the chicks were big enough to move outside permanently, we transferred them to the chicken coop. Construction requirements: a scrubbed out, whitewashed, freshly painted chicken coop, a new roost, a new gate, a better new gate, repaired fencing all around the chicken yard, disco-dance party streamers to keep the eagles out, a second enclosure inside the coop, a second enclosure in the yard, another gate, a new chicken door in the coop, new homemade feeders, and a field of rye for winter eating.

(4) Kim decided that if one breed was this much fun, two breeds would be even more fun, so she acquired two Black Australorp pullets from one source, and a Black Australorp cockerel from a different line. Construction requirements: a third enclosure inside the chicken coop, a third enclosure in the yard, a third gate, and a chicken door from Enclosure #2 to Enclosure #3 to allow rotating access to the field of rye.

(5) Although the chickens were enjoying their field of rye, it was starting to get a bit trampled and poop-covered, so Kim decided to expand the chicken grazing territory to the orchard. Construction requirements: disco-dance streamers for the orchard.

At this point I feel I should remind you that we have had chickens for less than 4 months.

(6) After becoming a regular at chicken swap events all around southern Vancouver Island, Kim found out about a woman named Ev near Coombs (a town famous for a store with goats that graze on its roof - they even have a goat-cam) who is single-handedly trying to improve the quality of the Buff Orpington stock on the island. Apparently it has been adversely affected by people breeding for show rather than for production. So Ev is trying to reverse that trend, to restore the breed to its original status as a good quality dual purpose bird: good layers, and heavy enough to make good eating. But she needs help, so was looking for someone to take on a mini-flock of eight hens (about to start laying) and an unrelated rooster, tracking their weight, breeding them, and selling the fertile eggs back to her for her program. She was understandably cautious about entrusting these birds to neophytes, but Kim is a Science teacher with a Master's degree and has enough enthusiasm to win over anyone. We'll be bringing the birds home in about three weeks. Construction requirements: I don't want to talk about it.

Kim is a woman with a mission. Sure, I helped with getting the coop and yard habitable in the first place, but beyond lending a hand occasionally with two-person jobs, like hanging a gate, I've left Kim to do all the construction and run the chicken show single-handedly. She gets up every morning to let the chickens out, scrubs the waterers and feeders, makes hot mash on cool mornings, shovels chicken poop out of the coop, and puts the chickens to bed every night. She called all her chicken contacts to figure out the best way to treat a pullet who was under the weather (and is since recovered), and she was inconsolable when a cockerel got bruised one night in the coop when it got trapped under the roost (which prompted a redesign and new construction of the roost). She is a rich source of hysterically funny chicken imitations: Fluffy Butt prancing on the spot when she scratches his back, the special twin-language the inseparable Australrop pullets Alice and Gertie share, the sweetly shy attempts of the Australorp cockerel, Hector, to sneak into the pullet's side of the coop at night.

Kim is in her element: construction, problem-solving, science and a touch of psychology. She loves her chickens. And I love my Kim.


Flartus said...

Miss Chef, is that you, writing from the future!? Oh, I surely hope so! :D

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

Miriam, I have so enjoyed this post and reliving the journey of the rise of your Chicken-Empire! I can't wait to read the next chapter!! :-)

Paula said...

This was easily the funniest thing you've ever written, and I enjoyed it thoroughly!

It's good Kim has a hobby- you have us, and she has her chickens!

Good luck with the Buff Orpingtons....

Toni aka irishlas said...

This is such a wonderful post! Chickens are sooo much fun to watch and we'll be looking for the instructional video from Kim - "How to communicate with chickens - twelve dances that you can do!" ;-)

amothersheartinwords said...

There is something about chickens that brings out the best in every person. Happy Chickening!

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