Putting the chickens to work
category: Jims Guatemala

I heard more ruckus than normal outside the house the other day, so I poked my head out the window to discover that Henley and Ellie (our chickens) had invited some friends over for a fiesta. Without my permission. Being new and all, I didn’t punish them the same way as my last chicken-teenagers, but I was a little put out. Who ARE all these chickens, eating MY feed and pooping in MY yard, anyways? “Get off my lawn, you damn kids!” I shouted, shaking my cane at them. Count them! NINE partygoing chickens, and you can’t even see ours, they are too far back in the cornfield.


Then I realized that I need to (once again) realign my perspective. Friendly chickens, hanging out in my yard, clucking and being pretty-that’s great! And I don’t have to eat all the eggs they lay. They’re someone else’s problem. All it costs me is a few quetzales worth of corn; what a deal.

Ellie and Henley have only been with us about a week, but I already like them a lot. It makes me feel bad tying them to our house with a string every day, but they’re still not used to coming HERE to roost at night. It takes about a week or so for them to learn that. But when I got home this afternoon, I found that Ellie had escaped again. This makes the third time. But maybe she’s been here long enough that she will come home? I guess we’ll find out tonight.

chicken_firsteggSM.jpgI was telling all this to Emily as I was cleaning out the henhouse and putting in new water, when I stopped short. Look what I found! Our very first egg. Much like Mel’s first egg, it’s a little odd, being half-sized. But how exciting! Maybe it will be extra incentive for her to come home tonight. UPDATE: She did not come home. I guess we have to get out the cookies to bribe the local kids into finding her for us… again. 😛

moxon2SM.jpgchicken eatingSM.jpgHaving chickens around has it’s advantages. Ours work for their living. I was in the garden the other day, tilling to replant part of it, and I turned up a TON of gross grubs the locals call gallina ciega. I looked them up online (yay, technology!) and they are the larval form of Phyllophaga , a large genus of beetle that includes the moxon beetle that I’ve mentioned before. These grubs damage root structure of plants, especially corn. But they are also a tasty, high protein snack for chickens, so I brought The Girls in to make war upon them. And they did, as this picture shows. There were no survivors.

greenhousetourSM.jpgSo, yeah, I am still an aspiring farmer. It would be funny to me if my agricultural experiments ended up helping the locals as much as our health and construction work. Nas Palas was just telling me this morning that he’s getting too old for working the fields all day, and wants to raise chickens instead. Every time I research something agricultural on the internet, he likes to hear about what I discovered. And the greenhouse? We still give greenhouse tours every day (like Emily in the picture to the right), telling people about how they too can grow warmer-weather things that are rich in vitamins, and don’t need to go to the market to get them. What a strange job we have.

Posted by: jfanjoy