I made a hard decision recently to sell my beloved heritage chooks.
They just weren't laying enough eggs. The heat and humidity of Tauranga does not seem helpful for my big Australorps, and my little bantams had just stopped laying completely (well, what I actually think happened is they got a virus which made them lay shell-less eggs, but that's another story). So there was a lot of daily work in caring for them, plus feed costs, plus also buying eggs!
So after debating for a few months, I sold them.
I felt pretty guilty and spent a few days wondering how my darlings were doing, were they being looked after properly, had I done the right thing, and so on. But in the end, I had to let it go. I chose to sell them. I chose to release my rights to care for them, and give that to someone else. The best I can do is try to make sure the prospective owner looked up to the task, and they did. The rest is now up to them.
My parents' backyard is now strangely quiet. It seems empty, yet it is not. The happy sounds of clucking hens is gone, and I miss it.
However, I do NOT miss the pressure of trying to get up there 3-4 times per week to help care for the chooks. With classes four days a week, it was getting really hard finding the time, and when I did I was usually in a rush, constantly telling my son I didn't have time to play with him, and still never finding the time to do anything much in the garden.
We were going to get some Hylines. You know, the egg laying hybrid machines? I even went to pick them up, but the seller had forgotten I was coming.
Then I found myself in a discussion with my mum about the workload for both of us (and my dad) and the busy year we find ourselves in. The outcome? We have decided not to have chooks. We will go back to buying eggs. It's quite a relief actually. I miss my fluffy-bums, and find myself frequently feeling wasteful when I see a roach that I know a chook would love, or throw out the scraps from Munchkin's dinner plate thinking how much the hens loved rice. But mostly I am enjoying it. I have managed to do some serious gardening in the past few weeks, despite being really busy with assignments. I'm hoping that will mean a good supply of winter veges, but I guess we will have to see.
One of my reasons for getting chooks was to fertilise the garden. They certainly seem to have helped with that, so we will miss that element of their work for us. But we've started using some good fertiliser so it should still be fine. I even got to speak to the creator of it (his name's Wally) and learnt a lot about how best to use it. So we've got Ocean Solids and Rock Solids, both to use on the entire garden in slightly different ways as they have slightly different minerals and our garden needs a lot of input still. Looking forward to seeing what a big difference it might make. Our raspberries have been going crazy this year after a dose of citrus fertiliser last autumn and a good hard prune. So here's hoping the rest of the garden does likewise!