Saturday, May 8, 2010

The chickens, part one.

Originally uploaded by radioacres
This really was our first project... as we started accumulating chickens long before the farm came along. You can read about our original chicken (and other) adventures here. A couple years ago Kim, Jeremy, BJ and I had built a chicken coop and run in their backyard and purchased our very own six hens. They had been a great investment, and we knew that one of the first things that we wanted on the farm was more chickens.

In anticipation of moving onto our farm, we had started to scour craigslist for chicks being sold. We were particularly looking for unusual breeds of chickens, which would produce a variety of egg colors. I think it was BJ that actually found the post, but when I read it, I got that craigslist syndrome... you know the one where you read the post, see the pics, and immediately need to buy whatever it is they're selling? All rationality goes out the window, and you begin to plan your day around getting a hold of this person and driving wherever they are to claim your items.

At that point, we were a few weeks away from closing escrow and getting the keys, so I was hoping that I could go and look at the chicks, give her a deposit and ask her to hold onto them until we were ready to come and pick them up. I thought up this plan as I was driving to her house in Del Mar, an unusual neighborhood to have a chicken raising operation.

This Del Mar chicken-seller had a plethora of fancy kinds of chicks she had hatched, as well as other unusual fowl such as peacocks, spread out across her nicely manicured lawn. Speckled-sussex, Wellsummers, marans, so many different breeds with the potential for such varied egg colors! I was sold. I asked her if she could keep the chicks until we moved into our new place and she said yes. Paying cash for 20 chicks, she said she'd throw in a few more for free! I drove home to our tiny apartment, excited and feeling very satisfied with my plan. Now we would have the beginnings of our chicken farm right when we moved in!

Kim was also very excited. The two of us comprise the more spontaneous (read: impulsive) side of our farm quadrant. The men tend to be more... shall we say realistic? I think they were worried about pre-purchase of our chickens.

I pooh-poohed their silly concerns, as I was sure it would work out perfectly. We were set to get the keys in about two weeks. Then, we could quickly throw up a chicken coop and viola! Our chicken farm would be ready.

Unfortunately, two things complicated my plan.

The first was Arnold, our governator. He decided to allow a California tax credit for home-buyers, which we found out we could qualify for, along with the national tax credit. It was great news for our pocketbooks, not great news for our chickens, as it pushed back our close of escrow two weeks longer.

The second unfortunate event was a tragic raccoon attack on our pre-bought chickens in Del Mar. I got a frantic call from the chicken-lady, telling me there had been an attack, she was afraid it would happen again, and I needed to come and pick up the chickens right away.

So... there we were, with 20 chickens and no place to put them for a month.

Transporting 20 chickens, their storage and care while living in a tiny apartment, and building a behemoth of a chicken coop in part two...

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