I have been wanting to get laying hens for a while.
Sent the last ones packing about a year ago because we were not getting any eggs. It’s not that they were not laying, (they were). But because I was letting them free range, they were hiding the eggs all over the property. Then, one of the little stinkers acquired a taste for farm fresh eggs. It finally came to a head when they started venturing over to the neighbors every morning and stealing the neighbor lady’s cat food.
Free ranging chicken sounds good in theory, but a chicken has no concept of property lines, and when they can fly over a 6 ft fence, good luck telling them they have to stay home.
But in the back of my mind, Robert Fulguhm’s essay “Not Even Chickens” continued to cast a long shadow over my life.
I really do feel like a rich man when I have a few chickens.
So, while the desire was there, that didn’t mean I was just going to act on it.
Financially, I wanted having chickens fit into the big picture of our life and not be a slow bleed on our finances.
And then last week, I had enough discretionary money saved up between my monthly stipend, some cash I got for Christmas, and then more cash for my birthday to buy some chickens.
I figured 6 or 7 chickens would be perfect.
Decided to put out some feelers on a local garage sale site on Face book.
30 minutes later I had a lead. Lady had 13 pullets born in August, that had just started to lay. She was looking to get a different breed.
The only catch, I had to take all 13.
Then we started to talk money. I asked her what she wanted per bird? She wasn’t sure. How much would I pay her?
I hate dickering. Told her that right up front. Didn’t want to insult her, by being too low. She would just need to set a price and I could say yes or no.
Having bought chickens before, a fair price for a young laying hen starts around $10 a bird, and could be as much as $12 to $15, especially if you’re only getting a few.
She said, “Well I raised them from babies …I would like maybe $3.00 a bird but if that is too much we can talk.”
Told her I could pick them up Saturday morning.
As we finished loading the birds, She teared up as we put them in the back of my pick up. I could tell the chickens were her pets….her babies as she called them.
“They need to ride in the cab if it will fit” (the cage).
Temps that morning were single digit. I had brought a tarp, my intention was put them all in one cage together, throw a tarp over the cage for the ride home. (They would have been fine).
Well, the cage fit into the cab, (barely).
The ride home was interesting.
13 chickens taking up 2/3’s of the front seat. I managed to get the drop cloth under part of the cage. Wasn’t long before they were crapping past the tarp. I noticed my coffee mug was directly below an untarped portion of the cage. ;-(
I was glad to get home.
I really didn’t want to keep all 13 of the birds, so I put an ad on Craigslist Sunday morning.
Pullets for sale – $10
Had an offer in 2 hours. Delivered those 6 hens Monday morning.
Paid $40 for 13 hens. Sold 6 for $60.
So there are now 7 happy healthy laying hens on the property and I’m $20 ahead.
Just got home after an hour cooped up with 13 nervous birds
Early morning view of the chicken house.
Life lesson in this for me again is this…
God knows the desires of my heart. He is not some cosmic Genie, nor is he a killjoy. He is unpredictable. And sometimes, in the most unexpected ways, he shows himself in my life. DM