Show time for chickens

Posing rooster, Locust Lane

        Dear Chicken Lady,  How come you never have any funny chicken stories any more? Are your chickens just a bunch of sad cases that you can’t bear to talk about?  Fondly,   My Chickens Will Beat Your Chickens at the Next Bird Show

        Dear Dreamer,  My, my, blunt and to the point aren’t we? Well in case you hadn’t noticed we have been hard at work here. Hard work and funny chicken stories don’t always go together. My creative pores have opened wide in this heat and all worthwhile thoughts oozed out. Cool and funny need each other and cool is gone. 

       This is the heat season, and the incubators have been working overtime hatching ducks and more ducks, the rain machine has been working overtime to produce mud and I have been far too busy to sit around thinking up funny stories. Listen, the weather has been so hot around here the chickens lay hard-boiled eggs. We go into the hot tub to cool off after we are done doing chores. Luckily we don’t have to set the sprinklers anymore because we sweat so much the ground is irrigated by us walking over it. So hot, I put supper on the stove to cool it off. And you know it is really hot when then dogs just look at you when you try to get them to go outside, preferring to join the kid for a nap where it is cool.
        I admit, with all this heat, our birds are not growing as fast as we would wish. Lots of people at the poultry barn set-up on Saturday to get ready for next week’s fair have said their market birds might not make weight as it is just too hot for the birds to eat. At which point we repeat the story of a past market champion’s family who got their birds late, just four weeks ahead of show time. Six to eight weeks is what a market bird usually needs to be ready, so the mom begged our advice –  which was to feed them a high protein feed laced with oil to avoid ketosis, keep them under lights and keep them cool. It was a hot summer that year also so the chickens were installed under lights in the one room they had with air conditioning, the mom’s bedroom. A bird that eats a lot, i.e., a market chicken, is a bird with an active digestive system. The smell, the lights, the noise were all worth it though — she/her son won Grand Champion that year. The good thing this year is that everyone’s fancy show birds seemed to molt their feathers early and will be ready to strut with new, shiny, undamaged feathers.

        As Ben Franklin who was probably our first weatherman said of his fellow Americans; “Some are weatherwise, some are otherwise.” A chicken farmer is surely otherwise for we go out in the heat regardless of the wisdom of sitting in a cool air-conditioned house and keeping caught up with paperwork in exchange for a chance to clean pens outside or perhaps weed the garden, drenched in the humidity. Sincerely, Chicken Lady
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