we have it from the times that on account of the infamous economy hatcheries can barely keep up with demand for chicks. and so it is that the back yard chicken has entered the mainstream again. but lest you are martha the chicken and its egg turn out more costly if raised from your own roost. first there is the coop. martha’s was built by her brother, quite in style, as you might imagine. unless you get your chicks from a neighbor, they’ll come by mail as day-olds, typically twenty-five per order. your postal mistress will call you for immediate pick-up just as soon as your rare-breed-special has arrived. this on account of the cheep and the peep, which gave her more of a head-ache then she already had. and there you are, smiling and holding the small carton and you can’t quite believe it to hold your twenty-five chicks. of course you’re prepared for the home coming. you’ve set up the coop, you own the feeder, the heat lamp, the dust applicator, the quick chick vitamins, the scratch and the zap. it will be fun, raising the chicks to become pullets, 6 month worth on average. which will get you eggs, small ones, at first, and a few month later egg size eggs. the jumbos will wait. and all that time you’ve been hard tending your herd, unless you’re martha and have the help do the job. you’ve nourished your brood to grow healthy, you got feed from the co-op or you might have fed your fowl fat scraps from the kitchen. but likely you needed some sort of grain out of pocket and the twenty-five you have named have been hungry. this business of chickens ain’t easy. unless you’re lucky, like i was and have a stray chicken walk into your yard unannounced. this happened one day in june and the chicken simply walked in, scratched at my pansies and settled. she was dark feathered, wearing a black helmet of sorts and when i had rushed back from whole foods she pecked sunflower seed from my hand, but refused cracked corn and had only small interest in millet. of course i was worried where she would spend the night. i offered my bathtub which she found too much of a slide and peculiar. on her own she decided each night to roost on the rack of my benz wagon instead.
during the day she walked around my garden, pecked at this and at that, with a scratch and scrape. she came when i called her and when i wasn’t looking she wiggled and nested against the house pretty well hidden behind the miscanthus. she gave to lay most likely three eggs every five days and though she must have wondered where her eggs went, she kept on laying throughout the summer. then just as quick as she had arrived she was gone. no bones, no feathers, just disappeared into the night.