Fresh yolks on the daily menu come with a steep learning curve

November 24, 2019 — by Sina Salehi

One May afternoon, it was just a normal trip through the aisles of Ace Hardware, when I heard volleys of high pitched chirps beside me.

There must’ve been about 20 colored cotton balls in the small enclosure. Upon realizing I eat eggs every morning, I impulsively bought three small chicks. 

My journey as a poultryman had begun.

I wish I could say that I only bought three chicks and stopped, but the very next day I bought a fourth chick — this one being a black Ameraucana, whom I would come to hate slightly.

There was a lot of work to be done before my lofty dreams of fresh breakfast eggs could be fulfilled.

I had to train them to exist without absolute pandemonium constantly breaking loose. These chicks were fecal time bombs, and I soon found myself repeatedly having to clean their brooder, which would soon be replaced by a newly built coop. 

Another thing I hadn’t considered before buying chicks was the probability that they would not, in fact, be the egg-laying gender. Not long after I bought them, I found that two of my chickens had developed combs.

I now had roosters in my backyard.

At the same time, their existence was now a crime, for which they’d pay dearly for if caught. If I lived in Saratoga, this wouldn’t be a problem, considering that there are no anti-chicken laws exist there. However, as a Los Gatos resident, I’m subject to harsh misandrist rooster laws that require me  to either collar the roosters, or turn them into soup.

Even with the collars, these birds were still loud. It wasn’t unusual to wake up at 6 a.m. to an over-paranoid rooster crowing to my neighbor’s lights.

In the meantime, after weeks of waiting, I gained the first reward for all my labors: a tiny, hued-colored egg from the brown chicken.

The tiny egg overcame extraordinary odds — it was DOUBLE YOLKED.

But such profit was not enjoyed for long, as the neighbors soon realized our scheme of owning illegal birds and complained to the city government. Not wanting to make the ultimate sacrifice, we took the roosters to a refuge at a Salinas farm, where they still reside.

With a new vacancy in the coop, I soon found a new pair of hens on Craigslist and brought them home, expecting the other hens to give them a warm reception.

But as they met, a standoff occurred. They stared into each other’s eyes, the small one running away, but the two brown ones remaining.

After facing off for 5 seconds, the new hen went in for the kill and latched on to the old hen’s comb. Fighting viciously, blows were exchanged on both sides. The fight ended, but the tension remained, as a kind of segregation formed. 

Before they could make amends, tragedy struck. One morning, I heard a loud “BADUK” at 6 a.m. This being a Saturday, I gave no attention to this, thinking that some chicken was just being loud.

I was gravely mistaken.

When I woke up, the backyard was strewn with black feathers. A chicken was missing. It was soon confirmed by our neighbors that they had seen a raccoon drag a chicken across their yard.

The sadness was immeasurably … nonexistent. I never really liked this chicken, so it was more of a lesson to be more careful.

Ever since then, not much dramatic has happened, as two eggs a day are made.

If others are interested in producing poultry products, be aware that chickens are high maintenance and require lots of time, especially if they're chicks.

Also, be prepared to put up a fight against your local city laws as they exile your favorite rooster. Despite these downsides, it’s worth it, especially if you’re an avid omelette eater.

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