Monday, March 10, 2014

Chickens and Memories

We have raised chickens before as the meat/egg breeds. Those were a lot of work, but fun. You get the eggs for two years, but then comes the butchering part. The processing of them would fall to me, and I just didn't want to do it anymore. It's a lot of work for a little bit of meat. 

Then we got started in broilers for meat and realized that pound for pound, week for week, feed for feed, the broilers were worth more to us than the layers were, meat-wise.

We have raised different breeds of chickens for many years and decided two winters ago to get Golden Comet chicks. This was a new breed for us. I’ve heard many people will only raise Golden Comets for eggs due to their consistent egg laying, feed-to-egg ratio, docile nature, and their final slight size.

I got the call from my post office that our day-old chicks were waiting for me. We got them home and settled in their box near the woodstove. 

Aren't they cute!?

They spent some time with us in the house near the woodstove for heat, but by the end of March, it was warm enough, reliably, to put them in the chicken coop. By that time, of course, the kids had grown attached to them. The chickens had become pets. They had become friends. Never mind that their life-plan was to lay us eggs, eat our kitchen scraps, and scratch our garden looking for grubs until that fateful day when they would say goodbye to this world and venture to that Great Big Chicken Run in the sky.

However, one chicken in particular, decided she liked the ‘human life’ a little too much. She would join us in the wood pile, right at our feet scratching for grubs, hopping up and sitting on the kids’ laps while they ran the handle for the log splitter, riding on the rack of the four-wheeler as we moved the wood into the woodshed…she was always around us. My husband, who would be running the chainsaw, would have to stop what he was doing to pick her up and set her down on a log that would be crawling with bugs, worms, and grubs.  Our family became so attached to her, that we named her “Fri-hen-d.” 

Yes, this chicken is in our house. 

She also received a blue zip tie on her left leg so that when it came time to butcher the chickens, we wouldn’t accidentally butcher her. (This foray into the kitchen is what prompted to blue zip tie- so it's not on her in this photo)

She lives the good life now- when she hears the back door open, she runs up on the deck hoping that we will be hand-feeding her something tasty. When it snows, or is too cold outside, she comes up to the back door and will peck on the door asking for admittance. Once, we took pity on her and brought her in and warmed her up by the woodstove. She plopped herself right down in the warmth and sat there for a while.  She comes when she’s called- like a dog does. 

Our family has enjoyed her antics and will allow her to be free and safe from The Ax.  The memories she has given our children will live on long after she’s gone. My husband and I are in the process of creating for our kids their ‘Good Ole Days.’ These are the days and times that the kids will look back on and remember with fondness.  Besides, what more can a mom ask for but memories to cherish close to her heart when the kids have grown up, and those same memories that they can take with them to pass along to their children. One day, they will be sitting around the table at a Thanksgiving dinner after their dad and I pass on, and they’ll say, ‘Remember that chicken we had when we were kids that mom and dad let us bring in to the house? What was her name again?’ And they’ll regale their families with stories of Fri-hen-d and growing up on a farm. And their memories will be tinged with gold and warmth and love. 

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