Beware the Internet. Anything you desire can be bought in a click. Procrastination is usually a good protection for this, but this defense failed me one day last spring, as I was browsing the McMurray hatchery website. You don’t have to order chickens from this hatch date, you can pick a hatch date that is weeks in advance. A brilliant trap. Gleefully, I placed my order for 50 (or so) meat chicks. Marcus’ glee did not match mine when I broke the cheerful news, but he took it in stride – after all it will result in meat on the table and our lodge will not go hungry.
On the appointed day, the post office called to inform me that my chickabiddies had arrived. We were ready for them. The idea of 50 chickens and the reality of 50 chickens are two different things. One smells better and the other eats more.
Cornish Cross chickens are different from my lovely laying hens. They’re a hybrid, bred to eat and grow. They are like the chicken undead, Zombie Chickens. I had to give a real chicken the unpleasant task of moving in with them to teach them how to be proper chickens, my good tempered Americana embarked on this duty, and it did help. I’m not sure they could catch any fast moving bugs but they did move away from the feeder and get a little exercise chasing earthworms.
Typical North Idaho weather means virtually no rain in July and August; Typical North Idaho weather is a chimera, a delusion and a snare.
Upon hearing the pelting roar of rain on the metal roof above my bed, I knew that as a responsible keeper of dumb clucks, I must check on my charges. As I feared, Zombie Chickens lack the sense to come in from the rain and must be scooped out of puddles and mud, like rank wet living laundry, and set inside their despised shelter. Every rainy night this thrilling event was repeated, and there were several. I think they started waiting for me to move them, but something you’re intending to eat is entitled to a certain amount of payback.
Butchering day was not met with sorrow – we were ready to see those things go. We set up an assembly line and assembled away. We told the girls it was family togetherness day, and they fell for it. They’re great sports. “It’s amazing how fast they go from chickens to chicken,” observed one of my cheerfully plucking daughters. And she was right, although it wasn’t fast enough to tempt us to quit our day jobs and start a mobile chicken butchering business.