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Chicken Math

Being the spouse of a chicken hoarder takes some getting used to. When this all started, I said I was OK with five hens - to meet our family egg requirements. She came home with eight. That was the status quo for almost a year.

Seven years later, I couldn't tell you how many chickens we have without some serious effort. I would say it's out of control, but my wife seems to have a handle on the situation. I don't ask questions any more, because I finally figured out chicken math.

It starts out as a cute joke. As time goes on, you'll come to realize that there are some actual variables involved in chicken math. Five becomes eight - and then you're setting up a second coop, buying two grow-out cages, watching craigslist for used dog yards, and pallets become cherished building materials. Don't forget square miles of plastic sheeting, and watching for tarps on sale at Tractor Supply.

In all seriousness, chicken math is fairly useful. Why buy a dozen when 6 may be male, 3 may die and some hens are bitches. There is a very real possibility that of the dozen chicks you just bought - only 2 may survive to be layers in your flock. To maybe end up with a dozen hens, you need to start with three dozen chicks. Because 36 is only a half dozen away from 42 - you may as well buy an incubator......or three.

Of course, none of this would be possible if you just grew a pair and told your spouse that "enough is enough" - but secretly, you're using this as an excuse to indulge in your own hobby....which she doesn't interfere with, because she knows how many secret chicken purchases she's made behind your back.

And you wonder why you're broke.

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