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Patty’s Chickens

April 4, 2016

2016-03-26 21.03.19

Last month we picked up a big batch of fertilized eggs from farmer Bryan for our annual Easter chick sale.  The proceeds from sale will pay for food for our laying hens for a whole year, which cuts down on Dan’s propensity to speculate about the expenses that went into each and every egg that we eat.

In addition to the care of chickens, it turns out Farmer Bryan is also a chicken photographer (see above photo).  There aren’t a lot of chicken photographers around.  It’s a real niche.  Dan had an uncle who was a cow photographer.  Another niche.

Farmer Bryan also has an awesome barn which houses an awesome ping-pong table. Which blew Charlie’s mind. He questioned how an individual who lives on a farm could possibly have a ping-pong table when everyone knows people who live on farms are poor?

Dan answered this understandable question with a very enlightening lecture on farm subsidies.  I am not sure farm subsidies really apply in the case of a second home hobby farm with 50 chickens.  But Farmer Bryan does have a really great apple tree so maybe.

The ping-pong table is not the only mysterious thing on the hobby farm.  There is also an outhouse which is exciting, and a big skull on the ground way to the outhouse.  It looks like a skull from a big ox, or something decorative one might see on a ranch in the wild west.  Miss P did not think it all that mysterious, casually pointing it out on her way to the outhouse and explaining, “Farmer Bryan killed that dinosaur.”  A real Sherlock that one.

Retrieving the eggs turned out to be the simplest part of the Easter chick sale.  My indoor hatchery was an uphill battle this year.  After I set up my incubators, we got worried that the slight smell might make it’s way up to the Watkins’s room and give Johanna a headache or worse,  so to be on the safe side we decided to move the incubators.  But where to set up shop?  Of all people, my neighbor Patty, who is knows by friends and family to be an animal not-lover, offered her basement for the hatching of 100 chicks (Two batches of 50).  If that isn’t love….

The hatch started on a Friday night and by Saturday Patty was hooked, spending several hours in the miracle of birth basement watching the hatch.  Only after the first 50 hatched did I realized that the basement would be too cold for them once they left the incubator.  So Patty, being in too deep to turn back now, agreed to let them have the upstairs bathroom.  After all, what are a mere 50 young chickens in the bathroom between good friends.

All weekend after the hatch, Patty  entertained a stream of friends and relations stopping by to see her bathroom full of chickens for themselves. No one can believe it!

One of these visitors was Melissa, the new kid on our block.  She is something of a local celebrity due to her very popular blog:  Last week I saw her out being photographed with her cool bike.  In the snow.  For a magazine.  She is also on Instagram. Do you know how many Instagram followers I have?  65.  Do you know how many she has? 65,000. She joined Patty and me in the basement to watch the hatch.  And to take some pictures. For Instagram. I was (briefly) so proud.

But pride goes before a fall.  After the hatch, Melissa was helping me settle the chicks in a big tupperware with little feeder and waterer, and for some reason the waterer wasn’t level so I tried to wedge it into the corner tighter. Then the reason it wasn’t level sort of squirted out.  It was a former chicken. That was awkward.

But other than the embarrassing incident with Flat Stanley, which was not exactly what Melissa was wanting to show her 65,000 Instagram followers, the hatching and selling went quite well. Although, I did have one hatch in my pocket.  That was a rush.

I was throwing out the duds (or the eggs that never hatched) in the woods across the street, and one of the eggs started squeaking, so I put it in my pocket to try to keep it warm.  On my way back to the house I felt little claws scratching my leg.  Sure enough, instead of an egg I pulled a chicken out of that pocket.  And he lived to tell the tale.  But only for 24 hours.  The next day right in the middle of telling it again, that chick keeled over dead. I guess the shock of his  birth story just overcame him.

To my relief I managed to sell all the chicks before they got too stinky.  The same cannot be said of the food in our house, which, as Johanna’s health has worsened (see her Caring Bridge update here) has become altogether too stinky.  While we had already stopped cooking supper in the kitchen, we were still doing some basic things like breakfast inside the house.  We have now, out of necessity, moved all food related activities to the front porch and set up a little dining area there.  It is very campy.  Also very cold.  And every meal upcoming meal (and they upcome so frequently) is like a riddle to be solved: where to cook it and how to get it (and all of us) onto the porch at the same time without the smell wafting into the house. I have many options due to the most touching response of our neighbors. No sooner did word of the situation get out than I had keys to the five closest kitchens on the block.  One friend said people don’t do that here in the city.  But I guess they do.  I have the keys to prove it!

Below: Annie eating on the porch (photo by Melissa).


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Papaw permalink
    April 4, 2016 1:14 pm

    Looks more like Corndog eating on the porch.

  2. April 4, 2016 3:14 pm

    Brilliant, hilarious, poignant, even a tad educational, and maybe, just maybe…a hint of spring? Isn’t that what just-hatched chicks mean?

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