Search This Blog

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Spring, Tra La!

We had a late snowstorm last week that made the Daffodils and Paper-whites in the pitiful remains of the flower garden look nice for a change. There is nothing like a cover of snow to make the leaf litter and assorted junk accumulated out there disappear. I had a semi rural (by choice) life in the late '80s and '90s and was always amazed by the annual Spring delivery of chicks at the post office. Yes, chickens by mail. Live chicks. My urban readers amy be surprised to learn that most people don't raise chickens as a multi generational manor. Roosters of breeding age are tough and noisy, and hens lay the most eggs when they are quite young. A three month old hen will produce three to five eggs a week if fed right, and be ready for the freezer by late fall. It seemed like my friends who had acreage and raised chickens would all show up at the post office on the same day to claim their little peeping yellow fuzzballs. There was a notice in the paper that announced the delivery of the chicks, and all the hill hippies would mix with the older townsfolk to pick up their future chicken dinners.  I don't think the Post Office is in the poultry delivery business anymore but I was wrong. There are several online bird delivery companies that still use the the mail. 

Most people don't have a brooder in their barn, but they look sort of like little flying saucers made out of galvanized wash tubs. Brooders use incandescent light bulbs to warm the little birds, so may be on the way out with the adoption of energy saving compact florescent bulbs. Small birds are very delicate especially when it comes to temperature, and Spring is notoriously unreliable in the weather department. Some folk, especially the hippies, would bring their brooders into their kitchen for a few weeks. Baby poultry has a not unpleasant smell that is easily identified. As a volunteer fireman I had occasion to visit people's home in the wee hours, and would look to move the chicks to a neighbor's house if I smelled that "eau de peeper". Chicks can't take much smoke.

It's funny the things that goad memories up out of the depths, and Spring elicits some of the most pleasant.

1 comment:

Laurie said...

I have a friend who raises and breeds her chickens the old fashioned way, although she did have a fairly large mail delivery of chicks last year. Apparently the sending company generally adds an extra chick or two in case they don't all make it.

Luckily she has had several hens go broody, so she doesn't need a brooder. She has been doing it for almost two years now, and she's already had to deal with complaints from the neighbours about the noise (by "dealing with" (eating) the young roosters). Her dairy goats aren't that quiet, either. She had to "deal with" a couple of her young bucks, too.