If you’ve been following our Chicken Diary, I may or may not have told you that we obtained our chickens through a 4-H Poultry Chain. Through this program we gained 23 chickens for $12. As part of the program we were required to sign an agreement to enter 3 of our birds in the county fair; those birds would be auctioned off. The proceeds raised at the auction are put back in the program to help offset the cost of next year’s birds. This is more than fair and reasonable. It’s a great program.
However, we had no idea that we would bond with our chickens. Seriously. Even before summer, we knew parting with 3 of our girls just wasn’t going to work for us, so we decided we would buy back our girls at the auction. Mason suggested we should put our ugliest birds in the fair so we could buy them back cheap. ;)
We entered a total of 7 chickens in the Fair. Three for the Poultry chain and 3 in a pen of pullets, and 1 for a single pullet. Aside from the poultry chain entry, the others would not be sold or auctioned off.
We got our birds to the fair on Tuesday and had to put them in wire cages. WIRE CAGES!!! We all felt terribly disturbed that our girls - who have a nice coop at home and free range during the day all about our backyard – were going to spend the next several days in wire cages. It was too much! Mason was mad about it and Mattison cried about it. We prayed for them each day. Yeah, we are pretty pathetic. But we love them… really.
Each day we visited them 3 times to give them fresh water and food and to talk to them and pet them. It was dreadful for us. Now I want to point out that this is normal Fair kind of stuff. The birds were not hurt or anything, we are just perhaps a little
obsessive sensitive about our girls.
Several times strangers approached us wanting to buy our birds that we had there and anymore we had at home. “Are you selling?” they would say. “No” I instantly replied. In my head I was saying, “Are you crazy? We are moping around missing our girls! Even our dog Hank is pitiful. My children would need therapy for years!” Our girls do look nice though.
Early on Friday, we made plans for the auction. We were told that as soon as we got our girls to take them home ASAP and to not leave the cage for a moment. Last year some birds were stolen. As if I wasn’t nervous about getting our girls anyway.
Finally, Friday night came and my husband and I had a date at the County Fair auction, waiting for our turn to bid on our chickens we have grown to love. When we arrived at the Fair all the poultry chain birds had been moved to the arena. I panicked. I hadn’t marked their cage yet. But we found them easily and quickly tied a red ribbon on the cage for easy identification.
As we sat waiting for the poultry chain auction, Steven and I noticed two of our chickens pecking at the other relentlessly. I went over to see if something was wrong with the one being pecked. When it stood up I saw that it was NOT OURS!! Our chickens have nicely developed combs and waddles, this one barely had sprouted a comb and was smaller. I told the 4-H lady and showed her. Then we began looking for our chicken. We looked for a cage that had 2 that looked like the one in our cage that was not ours , but had a 3rd that looked like ours. We finally found one. We switched out the chickens and watched how they reacted. Yep, no doubt. We found our chicken.
The 3 that were not ours were flighty. Ours are used to being handled and were calm. The other two did not peck on our chicken once we returned it. Likewise, the odd chicken was not pecked on by the 2 in the other cage. Crazy Huh? We don’t know what happened. But the poultry chain chickens are owned by kids. One could have easily gotten mixed up by the cages. I guess we will never know. I’m just glad we figured it out before the auction, because believe me when I say, if I can tell our chickens from others, Mattison can definitely tell. There would have been no consoling her. Sigh…
I was prepared to spend whatever it took to get our girls back. Even though we had some competition for our girls, In the end, I only needed to pay $30, and we brought our girls back home that night. Well, the poultry chain girls anyway. The others had to stay.
This morning (Saturday) Mattie and I hurried to the Fair to feed and water our chickens. Check out time was at 4pm. With all the anxiety of the switched chickens the night before and the chicken thievery from last year (not to mention there were some empty cages around the chicken area that were previously occupied), we grabbed our girls and made a run for it. OK, we didn’t really run, but we loaded them up at 8:30 this morning and took them home. Sigh… Will anyone notice? Will I get chastised? I don’t know and I don’t care.
Next year we will definitely participate in the Fair, but it will be with homemade goodies, photography, sewing and educational exhibits. Our pets do not belong at the Fair. That’s not to say that yours wouldn’t. There were many a happy kid there with their animals. It just isn’t the best thing for our animal loving, possibly slightly obsessive crew.