Today we said goodbye to all our chickens. I literally shed a few tears doing it - and all I had to do was help get them into the crates. As soon as we walked into their yard they went crazy - even before we tried to catch them. They also only laid 5 eggs today - as opposed the 9 or 10 they usually lay. I guess they just sensed something was amiss.
We made the decision to let them go for two reasons - firstly because we are heading back to New Zealand later this week for over 3 weeks and getting my mother-in-law to look after them would be a bit too much for her, and secondly - because they were starting to lay less and less (still not bad, but they had seen better laying days!). After we get back we will clean out the chicken house, do a few repairs and then start the process over all again. I don't think I could live without my chickens anymore!
We thought about killing them all ourselves..... for a few minutes, but quickly changed our minds when we found a place in our town that would do it for free. And then we discovered that for a relatively low price they would also pluck them, gut them and cut them all up for us too... so now we have a freezer full of chicken! I thought the meat was going to be really tough, but the man who prepared them for us said that it looks pretty good - I guess we may have to test it out tomorrow.....
For anyone new to this blog our chicken adventure started after we went back to New Zealand 4 years ago and my son (and I) fell in love with all our relatives' chickens and pushed hard to get a chicken house built.
Our first 5 chickens were purchased from a local high school and had been raised by hand. The next 5 were from a big "chicken factory" and took a little longer to get used to people. The next 12 I picked up as tiny little chicks on the day they hatched. The children helped with delivering the eggs to the neighbours and cleaning them out, feeding them etc. and as a reward they continued collecting egg money and we have had a few nice holidays with the proceeds.
As the chickens grew we lost a few to sickness, a couple to predators and completely lost track of which were the old ladies and which were the teenagers. All in all we have been lucky and ended up with 15 chickens to say goodbye to today. It is definitely going to be strange tomorrow not hearing any clucking and not having to go and collect any eggs. Who am I going to tell all my problems to now? They were wonderful listeners!