Love Among the Chickens is the first adult novel by that comedic genius, P.G. Wodehouse (think Bertie and Jeeves). This is early Wodehouse, featuring Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge, a man of impressive ideas and an even more impressive lack of sense. Knowing nothing about poultry farms, of course he starts raising chickens and inveigles the hapless narrator to help him. Disaster inevitably ensues.
Ukridge’s main goal is to make money by raising the hens and selling the eggs to stores far and wide. I have to laugh at the idea of making money from my chickens! I am absolutely sure it is possible, and I know there are good folks out there who do it, but you would have to know far more about chicken husbandry than me to make that work.
I am in the category of Poultry Fancier, the hobby chicken farmer who does this to improve the breed, enjoy beautiful birds, and of course the eggs and meat. But in no way is my operation efficient! In fact, I once figured out that with the cost of feed and shavings,a dozen of my eggs costs me about $13! Add to that the cost of going to shows–gas, hotel, food, entry fees–and you have definitely got a money-pit in your coop!
I think Ukridge’s biggest mistake was going too big too fast with too little knowledge. Most of us start off with a few hens from a hatchery, usually a mixed bag of breeds. Poring over the hatchery catalogs is a lot like looking at the seed catalogs in January. And they all come at about the same time, early winter, for spring hatches. All those beautiful chickens are a veritable feather bouquet!
Me? I’m just taking it one breed at a time. Today and tomorrow, the rare heritage breed, the Buttercup.
In fact, just recently my husband came to stand next to me as I surveyed a group of youngsters just getting into feather. He said, “They look really good. You great care care of them.”
I smiled warmly. Now THAT’S love among the chickens.