There I have gone and done it bought myself an egg incubator so I can rear my own chicks. And in that one sentence I have created more angst and pain for my family than in any other single thing I have ever done.
For from now on the chickens are a serious business. Gone is the haphazard way of looking after them now it’s down to science and technology and with it my input has to increase. I am not sure I have done the right thing at all. Going from hobby to business is a big step especially when the hobby wasn’t exactly a full on kind of thing.
My way of looking after the Rookyard Flock has been live and let live to a large degree. I don’t fuss my hens in fact I don’t really look after them at all. I give them shelter and a bit of grain and access to water when it freezes otherwise the hens look after themselves.
I do get a bit panicky in the spring when the chicks start to hatch and I am always on the hunt for them from March through to October rescuing abandoned chicks and raising them sort of under a convenient broody or else finding their own mother and capturing her and putting her in a makeshift pen so as I can at least keep some chicks alive for the following season.
I climb up barns, scurry under perilouis log piles and other bits of farmyard detritus in my quest to rescue these peeping monsters and by and large it works. But I have never gone out to raise my own and bring them on so to speak. Up until now there has always been a broody.
But we have found that chickens are expensive beasts and now that a hen at point of lay can reach the dizzying heights of £20 – 25 per bird for a purebred I have decided the chooks need to start earning their keep and I need to start selling these chickens and their eggs. So life has to get a bit more organised in order for me to do this and I have to look at the type of hens that people want to buy. I have a very funny feeling it is not the hens I have so I will have to buy in hens and eggs to fulfil my customers’ wants, needs and desires.
Everything will have to look more professional and all the hens will have to pass muster. I have images of row upon serried row of identical hens standing to attention with a large fussy cockerel crowing out orders in front of them and it fills me with a kind of dread.
I've never been that organised!