First, and this is key; you must declare, “I’ve always wanted chickens! Wouldn’t it be fun?” (Even if you just thought of it yesterday.) You imagine restoring the run-down coop in your farm yard and ask your husband, “Can you fix this coop for me?”
He is in the middle of seeding the spring crops, so he shakes his head, “Remind me this winter when I’m not so busy.”
The winter rolls around, and the last thing you think of is trekking through the snow to a chicken coop. Then, spring comes, and you see the fluffy chicks at the local farm store, and you remember your chicken farming dream again. Your husband says he is “too busy” to make the coop, “Remind me this winter.”
Repeat for six years.
Without even reminding him, one day your husband announces, “I’ll get to work on the coop.”
You panic, picturing real-life chickens in your backyard. Aren’t I scared of birds? Do I want to spend my days cleaning chicken poop? Whose idea was this?
You nod to him and silently berate yourself for repeatedly asking for chickens but decide it’s too late to change your mind.
Your husband works for a few weeks on and off, restoring the old coop—the one with rotted floors. He installs a cute turquoise door to match the new tin siding. It looks very rustic chic.
One day, he walks into the house and says, “The coop is ready! Come out and see!”
Quickly you Google, “How long do chickens live?” (Answer: 5-10 years. But most backyard flocks live 6-8 years.)
With knots in your stomach, you follow him outside. You smile, “It looks great, babe!”
The next time you’re at the farm store, walk smugly past the fancy chicken coops with the two thousand-dollar price tag, knowing you’re saving hundreds of dollars by not buying one.
Refurbished Chicken Coop: approximately $500
On a spring day, load the family for a trip to town to begin your new endeavor: chicken farming. Unable to resist the fluffy chicks (forgetting they turn into not-so-cute hens), you bring home 10. You rationalize that one could die (chicks seem fragile), and one rooster could be masquerading as a hen. You’ll really only end up with eight; which seems like a reasonably sized flock.
First bag of feed: $40
The chicks move into their refurbished coop, and you feed them, water them, and shockingly, they all survive for months.
2nd & 3rd bag of chick feed: $80
Grit & Oyster Shells (apparently, food isn’t enough, they also need these): $40
The summer rolls by, and you start counting back the weeks on the calendar, trying to estimate when these chickens will begin paying for themselves. Each morning you go to the coop, only to find more poop and feathers—no eggs.
Each time you open the turquoise door, one hen comes after you, and you’re sure she has it out for you.
Your husband declares, “She’s just curious!”
Secretly you hope she’s a he so “she” can be removed from the flock.
One day, you tell your husband, “Come and see this chicken for yourself. Just open the door and see what happens!”
He opens the door, but the hens just stare at him. You sigh, rolling your eyes at the chickens.
“I believe you, babe,” he says, closing the door.
Then, on a brisk late summer morning, approximately 19 weeks after the chicks came to your farm, you open the coop, and with low expectations, you check the nesting boxes. Empty. Resigning yourself that today is another day of poop and “curious” hens; you start to walk away. But then, on the floor of the coop, you spot it. One egg! A tiny brown egg! You aren’t sure which hen laid her first egg but give them all a handful of mealworms in celebration.
Bag of mealworms: $15
Now, try and decide what to do with this one egg. Save it for baking? Make a fried egg?
Go with a tiny fried egg with toast. You can’t tell if the egg tastes better than the ones from the store, but decide you must not tell anyone that. Vow to declare to anyone who asks, “Store-bought eggs are not as good. Have you seen their yolks?”
The next time you’re at the grocery store, take note of the price of a dozen eggs. Place your hand at your throat, “Why! I can’t believe people have to pay that much for eggs these days!”
Slow your cart, imagining the one hen who will possibly peck your eyes out, but shake your head at the thought and keep pushing your cart down the aisle.
And that, my friends, is how you save $5 on a dozen eggs.