Monday, August 19, 2013

P is for Poultry, Predator, and Politician


“Chicken wire is designed to keep chickens in, not politicians . . . ur . . .  um . . . I mean . . . predators out.” 

It’s good information. Also true.  Also a conundrum.

I raise assorted chickens. I buy them teeny-tiny, fluffy, and assorted from somewhere up north and have them sent to me through the mail. They come in a box.  When the box arrives at my hobby farm in Florida it is cheeping.

It’s about the cutest mail you can receive via the United States Postal Service—chicks in a box that resemble puff balls—the chicks not the box.

From the box they go into my shower. I put a light on them to simulate their mother’s fluffy butt, also her love and concern. I feed them, water them, and watch them grow. Putting them in the shower is handy, because I can wash the shower out when it becomes DISGUSTING.

Cute does not mean clean.

When the chicks resemble teenager chickens: pimply, scruffy, half grown, awkward, loud, and obnoxious, they go into the chicken coop.

Then for the next couple of months I stuff them full of food, starter mash, cracked corn (on special occasions), table scraps, and then laying mash for their big egg laying debut. It takes about seven months and a trillion dollars.

Hobby does not mean cheap.

It’s kind of like the way the politicians run Washington—more goes in than comes out and the money pit gets deeper and deeper, and if you figured it all out you’d realize that your eggs cost about a hundred dollars a piece and your bridges to no where a zillion dollars a piece. In fact, politicians run the federal government a lot like it’s their hobby. In my case, it’s fun.  I don’t know why politicians do it.

Around seven months, the assorted eggs start rolling in, beautiful eggs, green, blue, brown, and white eggs.

It’s illegal for me to sell my farm fresh eggs on the open market in Florida. I haven’t located the black market yet. So, I stay one step ahead of the politicians in my state, I give my eggs away FOR FREE.

Regulate that!

It makes me happy to have eggs to give away. It makes my friends happy to get eggs. It makes my chickens happy to lay eggs for me. (I don’t know that; I just feel it.) And, unfortunately it makes the raccoons in the woods across the street happy to figure out new and better ways of eating my beloved, hobby farm raised hens.

Come to think of it, raccoons are a lot like politicians. They wait until your stuff is fully raised and juicy and then they come for it with razor sharp canines that can chomp through chicken wire. If you’re lucky they’ll leave a pile of feathers in the yard to let you know who got eaten and where.

Hobby farming is not for the faint of heart or the easily discouraged or the politically naïve.

In fact, in the month of July we’ve gone from twelve mature hens and one adorable rooster, to two frightened, scraggly hens, shaking in their feathers.  They’ve started roosting on my back porch on the kid’s frog aquarium.

I remain undaunted. In September, I’m putting in my order for tougher chicken coop wire, a bigger live animal trap, and a new batch of air mailed boxes with assorted cheeping. The raccoons are still out there, but I refuse to let them scare me into roosting on the back porch on the frog aquarium. I’ll continue to keep fighting for tougher chicken coops, better predator disposal, and smaller government. Not necessarily in that order.

Linda (Coop Master) Zern          



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