Spring Chickens

(Broadcast 4/12/13)

Despite the fact that until a week ago we still had snow on our lawn, it is allegedly Spring. Now that there’s a lot more light, the chickens should be getting ready to step up egg production. No one’s broody, and Boss Chicken is no longer quarantined, so we should be up to our ears in eggs in no time. It just hasn’t really felt like Spring that much yet.

This is exactly what our house looks like.

This is exactly what our house looks like.

Until you go to the feed store, and see that they are getting baby chicks in. And baby ducks. And you remember how much fun baby chicks were when you had them a year ago, and you look at the baby ducks and think they look pretty fun, too. There’s something people call “chicken math,” in which you say you’re going to get 3 chickens, but you end up liking chickens so much you wind up with 15 in the end. I was never good at any sort of math, so I’ve been able to resist chicken math so far. However, I also haven’t been confronted with peeping little chickens very much lately, which helps. They’re totally easy to resist when they’re not there. When they are there, it’s hard not to buy them all. What tends to stop me is knowing that my coop probably isn’t big enough for many more chickens, and I’m not in any rush to put myself through the ordeal of building a bigger one any time soon. Plus, cute as they may be, these are living creatures that require a certain amount of care, and will need this care for their entire lives. It’s not a purchase to rush into.

Can't rush this.

Can’t rush this.

I certainly don’t want to put myself through the ordeal of building a duck pen, which needs a pool in addition to shelter, but it doesn’t stop me from checking them out. Last time I was in the feed store, I noticed stuff floating in the duck’s drinking water. I put apple cider vinegar in my chickens’ water, since it’s good for them. I thought maybe they cut up fruit and put it in the ducks’ water or something for similar reasons. I don’t know much about ducks, so that was my guess. One of the employees happened to be refilling all their drinking water while I was watching them, so I asked her about it. “What’s that you put in their water?” I said.

“What?” she said. “Oh, that. That’s wood chips.”

“Oh,” I said. “So it’s not something for nutritional value.”

“Oh, no,” she said. “They just kick the wood chips around like crazy. We put them in the pen, they kick them in the water.”

“I see,” I said. “I’ve always thought ducks seemed fun, but kind of messy.”

“Oh, they’re messy,” she said. “They’re nothing if not messy,” and she walked away. I had thought they’d be messy mostly just due to having water to kick around, I hadn’t even thought about ways they would contaminate that water. I thought the water would be doing all the contaminating. I guess water is much more versatile than I expected.

Drink it.

Drink it.

What I really enjoy about the baby ducks is the descriptions they have up, especially for the runner ducks, which mentions that they seem like they’re always in a hurry. I feel like I’m always in a hurry, so I wonder if I surrounded myself with a bunch of runner ducks on my way to work, if it would make me look less rushed. Or more crazy. It’s a fine line. If I sent them out ahead of me, would they clear the sidewalk, making it easier for me to get by? I doubt it, but these are thoughts I find myself having. Which maybe I shouldn’t share with others.

How I roll.

How I roll.

But again, I don’t have the time or the energy to build a duck pen right now. I still haven’t even had our chickens for a year yet, so I think I should get a better handle on them before branching out into different types of fowl. That doesn’t rule out more chickens, but there’s still the space issue. The ones I have are great, and while new ones might be great too, I’ll appreciate the ones I have for the time being. We all know about crazy cat ladies, but I’d like to avoid being the model for the crazy chicken guy if I can help it.


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