I knew from the moment they were born that my boys would grow up and leave me – my cockerels, of course. Out of the seventeen eggs hatched this year, I ended up with seven pullets and ten cockerels: 2 Specked Sussex cockerels, 2 Welsummer, 2 Easter Egger, 3 Silver Ameraucana, and 1 Wheaton Ameraucana.
As you know, one of my Speckled Sussex boys found a home through the Virginia Farm Classifieds in Estaline Valley just behind my ridge with a nice flock of Speckled Sussex ladies. Brutus, the blue/red Easter Egger cockerel, found a home with some friendly ZZ-Top-type fellows where he would have a mixed flock of hens to live with. He found his home when I took him to the poultry sale at Expoland last month.
Taking the boys to the show, I am always concerned that they will be used in illegal cockfighting or made into soup. To hedge against this, I charge $5 for boys, hoping that this will discourage the eaters and cockfighters because so many roosters can be found for free on Craigslist and similar places. I also clearly state “not for food or sport” on my sign. Lastly, I talk to everyone who comes up to my booth. When someone offers to buy a cockerel, I ask about the flock they are going to if they have not already offered such information. So far, I believe my luck has held.
Because the show begins at seven and is an hour from my home, I get ready the night before. I pack:
- my cage prepared with litter or newspaper
- a sheet to cover the cage in the car
- a bowl
- a water bottle and holder
- hand sanitizer
- moist wipes
- paper towels
- plastic shopping bags
- chicken-sized cardboard boxes, if I have them
- a chair
- a folding table
- a book to read
- water and a snack for me
- a sign listing the types of birds, their price, and “not for food or sport”
- handouts with my email address, website, and brief explanations of the breeds
The morning of the show, I carry the cage into the coop before I let the flock out for the day, leaving my trunk open. With everyone still a bit sleepy and contained, I put the travelers into the cage and then let the rest of the flock out. I carry them down to the car, slide them in, and cover the cage with the sheet. As I drive, they lie down and make little noises occasionally, but cope quite well.
When I arrive, I see the long line of cars pulled in at the show and pull in myself at the end. I get out, open my trunk, and start setting up. I’ve learned that the birds sell better when people can see them well, but I don’t want to set the cage on the ground: I want to limit their exposure to the other birds, so I put up a folding table and set the cage on top. I tape up my sign and get out my chair. The woman who runs the sale comes by to collect the $5 fee. I filled out a form with my name, address, and contact information the first time, but now I can just tell her my name.
When the boys poop and it is a bit smelly, I clean up with paper towels or wipes, put the mess in a plastic bag, and sanitize my hands. Every hour or so, I give them a handful of food and put in the waterer. I take the waterer out after about ten minutes because, with nothing else to do, they will just drink and drink, which isn’t really good for them and makes for a lot of watery poop.
I find that it’s best not to read too much; you have to engage with people as they come by and make them feel welcome: welcome to ask questions about the birds, welcome to look, and welcome to come back later. I even lift my sunglasses to make better eye contact. I was nervous about talking to so many people, but now I find that I really enjoy it.
I was very successful at the poultry sale two weeks ago. I found great homes for my two Welsummer boys and my blue (gray) Easter Egger cockerel. I sold every bird that I brought and ended up buying two little pullets to bring home in their place (more about them later). I am currently deciding which boys to hold onto through the winter, and I will definitely be going to the sale again with some of the Ameraucana boys at the next sale on September 17th.