Chickening Out

Some of the condemned.

Some of the condemned.

So, one of my bright ideas for financing my chicken hobby was to buy a big box of chicks, raise them to larger sizes, and then sell them for a slightly higher price than I paid for them. This is what a lot of chicken hobbyists do, simply because we’re addicted to peeping baby chicks and we CAN’T STOP.


Anyway, it’s worked out okay so far, except that suddenly the chicks that I haven’t yet sold are practically the size of full-grown hens and my coop/portable run is made to house about a dozen hens comfortably. But right now I have 20 chickens. You can see the difficulty. We move the “tractor,” as the portable coops are known, and after two days they’ve already eaten the grass down to the dirt. It’s not supposed to work that way. It’s supposed to be “move the tractor every three days, in a pattern that maximizes health of chickens AND grass.” It ain’t workin’ like that.

So I need to sell some chickens. Right now, I have five of them on Craigslist. Since we’re dealing with chickens, I probably don’t have to worry that someone will try to rob me or kill me for the merchandise, as seems to be a horrible trend in the Craigslist used-car market. But, still, it’s a sort of difficult business transaction. People want to come and inspect the chickens first. Well, as you guys know, my house is already like Fort Knox. The idea of opening the locks and letting strangers just wander through is not an appealing one– Miss Autism doesn’t like visitors and she may just decide to trot off and disappear if we leave anything unlocked. So, no, that’s not going to happen.

I think people suspect me of shady chicken dealing, since I don’t let them come visit the coop. I try to be above-board and tell them anything they want to know about the chickens. I just don’t want to have to invite folks in. The chickens are perfectly healthy and fine, if a little overcrowded. The two older hens boss the younger ones around, but they learned fast to get the heck out of the way of those old biddies. Everything will work just like I planned . . . once I sell those extra 8 chickens.

So I have to do the back-and-forth emails and phone calls and arrange transport and do all those kinds of things that are difficult to do when wrangling 6 kids as well as 20 chickens. I haven’t been having good luck on the phone lately anyway– my cell phone service is spotty at best. Literally “at best.” Ordinarily, I have to have absolute quiet to hear anything on the other end of the line, and my signal tends to drop off unexpectedly. We’re having a land line re-installed, but it didn’t come in time to save me from the absolutely terrible reception I’ve had all week and the miserable time I’ve had trying to make calls.

But anyway, the chicken business is like any business– filled with its own hassles and demands and risks and terrors. Trying to make a few dollars selling hens has made me think again about that novel I have shoved in the closet. I chickened out when I wrote it and falsified the setting. It was supposed to be an alternate history, but I decided that it wouldn’t sell and made it a fantastical setting.

That, my friends, was a mistake. It’s nagging at me, the inconsistencies and problems. Yes, a fantasy alternate history is weird but there have been some that DO sell. Mine may not, but that’s not the worry. I just want it to be *right* . . . I want the setting to be realistic, not some fantasy knockoff. The writing business is worse than the chicken business in that, in chickens, you’re dealing with a separate creature. They may be good chickens or bad chickens, healthy or wormy, well-bred or mutts, but they’re just chickens. With books, you’re presenting something that, to nearly everyone, will represent YOU. Your mind, your heart, your morals, and your sensibilities.

So sometimes you chicken out and make the wrong choice. You don’t want people to think badly of you, whether it’s as a writer or a chicken dealer.

But I’m tired of taking the chicken-out option when it comes to that novel. Maybe not today, but soon, I’m going to go back and fix all those problems. Maybe it will sell, maybe it won’t, but it will be MY vision, not a half-hearted compromise.

Better fix that phone in case an editor calls, eh? 😉


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