You know how that old saying goes; don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried counting chickens but let me tell you, it’s not an easy task. They move around, blend in with things, even roost way up high in a corner where you don’t see them, plus so many look alike it’s nearly impossible to remember which ones you counted, and which ones you didn’t. No matter how many times you count them, you can never come up with the same number twice. So that got me to thinking… if you count your chickens before they hatch, there’s no guarantee you will have an accurate count, but then if you count your chickens after they hatch, there’s still no guarantee you will get an accurate count. So when, exactly, is the best time to count your chickens??
The other night I decided I needed to get a count on how many chickens we have so I grabbed a pencil, paper and flashlight and headed to the first coop with Dylan. Going out after dark every evening is our normal routine. There’s always a handful of chickens that don’t go up until after dark. If we go out any time before it’s completely dark to shut the coops, there will always be a few chickens that will get left out. I went into the coop and shined the light on the chickens. They were all lined up perfectly on their roost, and since there’s a small number in that coop, it was easy to get an accurate count before a few jumped down and started roaming around in the light. I counted 11 hens, 8 roosters, which will be butchered soon, and Nevel. Nevel is a rooster that belongs in the barn, but after he went to the fair he decided he wanted to live in the small coop instead. So that’s where he’s at for now.
That makes 19 so far.
Next we went to the breeding pen where we have Brooke’s latest breeding project. She’s chosen to breed Salmon Faverolles. She has a rooster, Mr. Wuffles, and the hens, Mrs. Wuffles times 5, or the Wuffles family, as we call them. We didn’t need to count them since they aren’t running free, we just gathered eggs.
That brings up our total to 25.
Last we went to the barn. Now this is where it became complicated. Since the barn is kind of dark, even in the day, we leave the lights on all day. As usual, when we entered the barn there was one big chicken party going on. Some were roosting here and there, several were eating, a few were digging in the dirt, others were out catching bugs under the light, a few were hiding in the hay bales and a handful were where they were supposed to be, in their room on the roost for the night. So I started to count… some went in their room, several came out, others jumped down from roosting on the fence, a few joined in on the bug catching outside, then one walked in front of me that was identical to another and I couldn’t remember if I had previously counted both or just the one…. and I lost count. So I tried it again… and again. Finally I got a count of 42. Just to make sure, I counted again but came up with 43. I decided to try one more time thinking that I’d come up with either 42 or 43 and would then know for sure. Well, I came up with 44. So I decided to go with the average and say 43. One rooster and 42 hens give or take one or two.
So now we’re up to 68.
Once I got all the chickens in their room, I checked the guineas and remembered one more chicken I had forgot to count. Ms. Sassy Cluck. She’s a hen who went broody and insisted on sitting on some eggs. We set up a nesting box in the room with the guineas and gave her 3 eggs to make her happy. If everything goes well, they should be hatching in about a week.
Once we got to the house, I got the calculator and added up the numbers. We were surprised to learn that we had 69 chickens. Last time we counted we had 40 to 50…obviously we hadn’t counted in a while. Then, we remembered there were even more that we forgot to include. We have 11 Cornish cross meat bird chicks that we recently bought. Funny thing is when we bought them we told the store clerk we wanted 10, so he boxed them up; we paid for them and left. Once we got home and were taking them out of the box, we realized he miscounted and gave us 11.
That makes our grand total 80.
So, back to my question…. when exactly is the best time to count your chickens? Clearly for us, the best time to count them is not before they hatch, nor is it after they hatch; it’s right before we go to the farm store during chick season… that way we’ll remember we have too many and won’t be tempted to get more. 🙂
Be sure to check back next week to see if Ms. Sassy Cluck’s eggs hatch and if our number increases or stay the same. For now all this chicken counting has worn me out so I won’t be counting these chickens before they hatch.