Saturday, June 1, 2013

Poultry Swapped!

Hey, Indica here.

So, today we went to this place, and did this thing, and it was fun... and I suppose you want the details. It starts here.

Rhiannon and I made a menu. With my 30 different colors of Sharpies we decorated the most eye-catching poster board ever! And the menu read...
Hens -  $5
Pullets - $20

Tomato starts - $3

The hen you see is Tweedle Dee
Yes, we were selling our chickens. Not all of them, just 5 hens and 6 pullets. Our 28 chicken flock is just a little to big. Just a smidgen. And we had extra tomato plants so why not bring them along?

Meanwhile, Mom catching the extra chickens and putting them in containers.  She used Riley's dog crate, a critter cage and two cracked laundry baskets zip tied together, then she loaded the crates and our old Radio Flyer wagon that we have had for, like, ever. (aka, since I was born)  into our minivan and Mom, Rhiannon and I were off to Earthdog Denver before 9am.

We arrived at Earthdog at about 9:30. But not for doggy daycare, but the Poultry swap! (Much more enjoyable in my opinion. I mean, wet, loud  dogs or chickens and bunnies?) We have been there before, but always as a buyer and I was excited to be on the seller side.  The swap doesn't start until 10, but already people were milling about.
Me with the Iowa blue and our fabulous menu.
We unloaded the minivan onto the flatbed wagon and pulled it near one of the other 6 sellers already there. Then mom left Rhiannon and I with the chickens and went to park the car. As soon as mom left, people began swarming the dog crate full of hens. I felt a little like a new hen added to an old flock.  Both buyers and sellers were crowding around us, craning their necks to see what we had.  Nobody else, it seemed had come in a minivan.  All the people here had trucks with real cages displayed in and around the open hatch.  And there we were with laundry baskets that had been destined for the garbage can.

But we must have looked okay  because when mom came back less than 5 minutes later, all the hens were already being strongly considered!  And one person already had cash in hand.

It is true, $5 for laying hen is cheep (get it? cheep?) -  ours were between 18 and 24 months and will lay well for another year or 2.  But it was either sell or butcher and I was on Team Sell.  (I like Sell better than Edward and Jacob COMBINED!)

Muscovy Ducks
During the transfer to new owner, Sonja escaped.  Of course it would be her, the smallest and fastest of all the hens.  Mesha stayed at our spot while Mom and I tried to catch her before she reached the street.  But the new owner (a seller himself) was the best chicken wrangler EVER.  He dived around her front while she was escaping our pursuit from behind (we were now nearly a 1/2 a block down from the parking lot)  She was quickly stuck in a cardboard box with another hen and he took them to his area.  (of course HE was one of the truck people)

The second we arrived back at our area a woman walked up and asked about the other 3 hens. She was more cautious, wanting to know about the eggs and what we fed them, and why we were selling them.  After 5 minutes, yes, SOLD!

So we now we have an empty dog crate, 6 cute pullets, a butt-load of tomatoes, and we hadn't even been their an hour! We were off to a good start.

It was a little slow after that. (for like ten minutes - Jenn)  More sellers showed up, and new buyers. We milled about, holding pullets in our hands. (Bear with me if this part is boring, this part of the swap kinda was too)  (Again - this was 10 minutes, but after the initial excitement it was a let down for the girls I think - Jenn)

Around this time  Rhiannon and I were getting a little bored and wandered to the other vendors. While Rhiannon found a group of girls her age to giggle with, I tried to find meat and/or fiber rabbit pairs. Unfortunately, there were none. But it was not yet 11 and we were planning to stay until the bitter end (2pm) to sell the pullets.

Lionhead Bunny
The silkie went first.  Our price for 16 week old pullets was average, with some as low as $15 and up to $25.  After about 1/2 hour, only the Iowa blue was left.  One woman bought 3 pullets, and we sent the makeshift laundry basket cage with her.  We had an escape during that transfer too, and the same seller as before caught the rogue Welsummer.  Even more vendors were showing up. On one side of us was a woman with a Barred Rock hen and a crippled and very docile Polish Crested cockrel. On the other, Lionhead bunnies! We asked, but mom said no.

Rhiannon with one tiny bunny
A 1/2 hour crawled past. The Iowa Blue had not been purchased.  Mom said if she did not sell she was okay bringing her home again.  I think she was just having fun watching and talking to people.

Then a couple brought out a pair of sibling bunnies, both the size of a pear.

That brought the squeals. And another no from mom.

The next hour was spent begging. But the answer was no. No to the potbelly pig, no to the turkeys. No to the Snowflake Bobwhite, no to Muscovy ducklings.

Pot Bellied Pig
After a while, I came running over to mom while she was (finally!) selling the Iowa Blue to a young girl.  I knew how she felt, as she took her own money from her purse.  Mom boxed up our last pullet just as I got to her.

"There are black and white New Zealands!" I squealed.

Mom nodded and stood up.  She gathered all of our animal stuff together. The tomatoes were on the crate, but everything else was empty and neatly stacked behind it.  Next to us the woman with the Polish was still holding him.  He sat quietly in her hands, obviously used to such treatment.  He was so pretty feather white and cream.  I bounced nervously.  In front of us people were leaving the swap with livestock, and I didn't want to go home with nothing.

I dragged Mom to a 4H girl with a black doe (named Luna).  4 months old and of breeding age. Mom said yes.  Then she bought a 6 month old white buck from another seller.  We had a pair!  The dog crate and the critter cage again had occupants.

Then a woman asked if mom wanted to barter for some tomato plants.  She traded us 2 raspberry canes and a small black current for 4 tomato plants.  I could see that mom was thrilled.  Then after the woman left Mom leaned over to the woman with the Polish and offered to buy him.  I looked at her funny, another rooster?  Mom just smiled.  "He needs a home," she said.  The woman said his name is Gary and she was so happy he found a new home.  Even though he is only 2 months old, she felt it was better to find him one now rather than upset her neighbors later.

With all of our stuff back on the Radio Flyer, and me holding the box with Gary in it, we looked around for Mesha.

She was nowhere in sight.

"Great," mom said quietly.  "I bought a rooster and lost my daughter."

We found her playing charades with other girls behind a vendor with really nice chicken tractors.

I texted Dad.  He said he was okay with the rabbits and Mom was crazy to buy a rooster.

She just laughed.  "Remember Cadbury?" she asked "Your Dad would have bought him too."

"But," she considered, "where are we going to put 2 rabbits - we only have one spare hutch."

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