Sunday, May 15, 2011

the sale barn experience

Yesterday I told you we’ve added animals to the menagerie. Here’s how we added these guys. I’m sure many of you are familiar with the idea of a sale barn, but let me enlighten those who aren’t really sure. A sale barn is where small town farmers go to sell and buy livestock. There’s different sales on different days for what you’re looking for. Monday is cattle, Tuesday is horses, and every third Thursday is small livestock. Small livestock is either chicken, turkeys (let’s just say any poultry kept in a backyard and move on), pigs, goats, rabbits, and the occasional guinea pig. (This includes potbelly pigs and pygmy goats.)

First they do poultry and I was looking for a few laying hens to add to the flock. (Because how many eggs can you really expect from one hen and two roosters anyways?) In the middle of the gated arena are boxes and crates filled with fowl and three guys holding boxes as the auctioneer does his thing. Sometimes (read as always) it’s hard to understand the auctioneer, and you’re never really sure which box is getting bid on.

Take for example I thought I was bidding on a box of six barred rock hens. I won the bid only to discover I was bidding on five battery hens. (Battery hens are commercial birds that have been kept in deplorable conditions, had half their beaks cut off, and tend to be severely underweight, and unhealthy.) Now after that description you’re probably thinking what the heck. But they are rather young since a chicken’s most productive the first year of laying then they molt (that means they lose feathers and grow new ones-makes them ugly little buggers too) and stop laying for about two months. And this is when most replace their birds with younger layers.

With a little love and good food- they plump up, get happy and are productive layers for several more years. Ours are already gaining color in their combs and wattles, enjoying grass and corn and scraps, are generally learning to act like real chickens. They even started learning to scratch again. They’re extremely docile and can be picked up and hand fed easily. That leads to walking around the yard looking like a mama goose as they follow behind in a line waiting for their daily treats.

After that successful purchase (*rolls eyes) they were selling a pair of silkies. Since there was a cage of birds that had escaped their temopary holdings only one box was being held up. Success was imminent everyone was enthralled with the capture of the escapees and I won the bid at two dollars a piece, can’t even buy babies for that price. Now as soon as the girls grow their feathers back they too will be gorgeous birds.

Right about then I got distracted by my girls jumping up and down and climbing around the seats. It wasn’t until my neighbor tapped my shoulder that I realized all eyes were on me. Apparently while I was gesturing at my kids to sit down and behave the auctioneer was taking that as a bid. I won a large buff orphington hen (now named orphan annie) for fifteen dollars. FIFTEEN DOLLARS! For one hen, I was unsure what to do so I took the girls outside and called Honeybear-he said tell the ring guys. When I went back in they had moved on to rabbits, being the wimp I am I just let it slide. And now I have one huge hen that does nothing more than boss everyone else around and gives no eggs. Back to the sale barn with her.

That’s it for the poultry part I’ll tell ya about the pigs and goats some other time.

1 comment:

  1. I'm jealous! I want hens and chicks and goats and so on too! Please keep the stories coming :-)


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