Madeleine and Rachel helped us pick out seven new baby chicks at a feed store as we begin raising our fourth flock of chickens since 2005. This time we chose them by breed and future egg color. We came home with three Rhode Island Reds (light brown eggs), two Ameracaunas (pale blue eggs), one white leghorn (it will become our first white egg layer), and one Welsummer (dark brown spotted eggs). They provided a good eight hours or so of entertainment just over the first weekend that we had them. It reminded us that we have absolutely no need of a television in our house because our girls like to watch "Chicken TV." This week we've had so many visitors coming to see the chicks you'd think we have a new baby in the house. The girls are old enough this time around that they are learning to be the main caregivers. At this point that involves transferring the chicks to a secure brooder outside during the day, bringing them into the house at night (where they sleep in a box, not wherever they please!), refilling their water and feed, and best of all, cleaning up their soiled bedding each day. They've named a few so far: Harry, Lulu, Puffy-cheeks, Agoogamay, and Road-Runner. We are taking suggestions for two more names.
As is our custom, we let our flocks live for three years before we cull them to make room for new layers. Two of our hens went via wagon ride to a Salvadoran neighbor's house the other day. They will become chicken soup this weekend. When the other hens quit laying this fall, they will meet the same fate. We feel grateful to know this neighbor and she is grateful to be gifted with the free meat. She has expressed surprise about the strange American habit of eating chicken without wanting to think about where it comes from or see the process of a live chicken becoming food for humans. We are glad the girls understand the circle of life in an intimate way so they have a greater appreciation for the value of meat. Madeleine hasn't had any desire to eat meat for a couple of years now, and although little Rachel would be quite the carnivore if I cooked it regularly, she has a true appreciation of it's source and it's sacredness.