The Accidental Farmer- Chickens & Eggs
Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
At my farm, chickens did. Right before we moved to the farm, while still living in Poplar Bluff, we bought a chick at Orschelen for each of our kids. Our enclosed back porch was a suitable place until they started trying to fly after a few weeks. My husband promptly built a small chicken coop in the backyard and the ladies went outside. We moved out of town when our pullets were about three months old or so. In the country, the hens thrived. Free ranging was our preferred method and the girls soon divested our farm of nearly all the bugs in our yard. By the end of the summer, we had eggs every day and purchased more hens locally to augment our flock.
With the amount of eggs we were getting, it seemed prudent to purchase an incubator. We started hatching chicks and other fowl. Within a year we had chickens of all ages, quail, ducks, turkey, and guineas. A deal that seemed to good to pass up at the Sale Barn on some Chukar Partridges was a fatal mistake and we lost nearly 2/3 of our birds from infectious coryza. We slowly rebuilt our flocks and purchased new blood lines from regulated hatcheries so that wouldn’t happen again.
Fast forward three years, and now we have bird flu which is causing the destruction of thousands of birds. Egg prices have sky rocketed and laying hens have become a precious commodity. A man recently purchased some hens from us and we thought he was trying to overpay but were informed that pullets are going for $10 each and upwards. That is astronomical by past local standards. A recent trip to the grocery stores showed Aldi at over $2/dozen and a limit of two on eggs and Kroger at nearly $3 and up for premium quality eggs.
While I am pleased that more people come to purchase eggs from me, I am also very weary of contamination of my birds. We haven’t went to the Sale Barn at all this year for fear of tracking something home from all the birds offered for sale. My henhouse run is about to get mesh netting across the top to keep wild birds out. Biosecurity has been stepped up here; if one of my birds even looks off it gets isolated from the flock and observed. Bird flu has been reported in Missouri and that is rather scary to this poultry farmer.
On a happier note, the weather has been very kind to this gardener. Tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, and squash are ripening daily. A walk through the woods has shown that blackberries this year are abundant. My corn is a bit slow in growing, but it looks healthy and robust. This summer looks to be a good year for local gardeners.