It seems that lots of my posts recently have Dilemma in the title. I did house-share with a guy once that called me Emma Dilemma, but I thought I'd got better. I seem to be slipping into some sort of relapse.
This week's dilemma has been chickens. We had three chickens. I got them around the same time I got pregnant with BB (actually during those few days when I was pregnant, but before I knew it). Getting chickens was very carefully considered. I went on a chicken keeping course, and I selected my chickens with the rational head of a Farmer: Small birds that lay a lot, and die soon after their laying is done, so you are not feeding huge appetites, or an unproductive bird for too long after laying stops.
Chickens are great. They are such fun pets, they eat all your scraps and they make you food in the form of gorgeous eggs. What more could you possibly want from a pet. BB loves them and has enjoyed taking care of them as you may have seen in the videos we posted recently. (OK, so there are minor injuries involved in both films, but he learnt valuable lessons both times!)
They do however take up quite a large proportion of our available outdoor space. earlier this year we had one bird losing feathers due to lice that would not respond to treatment. A friend has recently replaced her hen house with a plastic one to prevent this problem and I considered doing the same - but it is another expense!
If we didn't have chickens we wouldn't need a new hen house and we could get rid of the chicken run and create a bigger garden for BB.
Earlier this year when Vera the black chook died, I decided that we would see these girls to the end of their lives and then expand the garden. It seemed like the right choice. Amber the white chook died on Monday and so I contacted a friend who had said she would take my last remaining bird (Old Speckled Hen) and she said she would come to collect her the next morning.
That was the day that I was finalising all the video of BB and the chooks for his 2nd year post. He loved those chickens. Maybe it is worth keeping that bit of garden for the birds.
I went to bed that night and couldn't sleep. It was more of the whole identity crisis thing - I am not ready to stop being a chicken Mama. I love being a chicken Mama. There is also the fact that BB loves chickens. It is great having them in our yard. They are perfect pets. BB is learning to care for other living things and is entertained by them for hours. I started to think I was making the wrong choice and that I shouldn't let her go.
As I looked out at the garden on Tuesday morning I decided that I like it how it is. It is just getting established. It works, we fit lots into a small space but it's functional. Also, now that I am getting more and more used to living in an overcrowded country again, rather than the outback, I appreciate that actually, our outdoor space is reasonably sized compared to many places.
I cooked my breakfast - fried eggs and sweet potato hash. The eggs were expensive, organic, free range ones. They were OK, but nowhere near as nice as the ones we get from our own hens. I have been looking for several weeks for some eggs I actually really like - I haven't found them yet...
So, when my friend arrived, wellies on, and ready for a bit of chicken chasing, I shared my dilemma. "I don't think I am ready to let her go" I said. She was very understanding. "Keep her then" she said, "get some more!" She then proceeded to tell me about some great hens she got recently that were ex battery and couldn't even walk on arrival. She pointed out that my garden was perfectly set up for them, and that bought eggs are just nowhere near as good. It's true - I have all the infrastructure. And yes, they lay great eggs.
And so, my friend left - and the chicken stayed!
The poor lonely chicken was not happy though. On Wednesday she spent the whole day just sitting under the nest box. Yesterday she wasn't even interested in ham (her favourite food). So, I boxed her up and took her to my friend's place, where she has joined lots of happy hens. She seemed to settle in quite well - there were a few pecks here and there as she worked out her place in the pecking order, but generally it seemed to go quite smoothly!
I will wait a week or two, just to see how I feel, but then I think I will give the hen house a good clean, and the yard, and then go and rescue a few more birds to keep that little corner of our yard full of life.
Unless I change my mind again of course.
What do you think I should do?