Chickens Through the Mail? Who knew ?

Growing up in Manhattan, I am live-chicken challenged. Except for childhood Easters when my friend’s dad would bring home chicks and ducklings for us to play with, I have no hands-on experience with chickens.Fast forward a  good  number of years and a close friend has a farm, so when she said they ordered chickens it made perfect sense.What shocked me is that they order by catalog and the chickens arrive in the mail.

 All my questions began bubbling out :  How can they send live animals by mail? Won’t they get crushed? Starve? Freeze? What happens if they get lost? I could imagine them pecking through boxes and wandering off. Clearly pictures of chicken annihilation crowded my mind.

This is a learning experience.The chickens hatch, are sexed ( a process I  want to know nothing about) , packed and shipped within a day. It’s hard to imagine gathering  and packing newborn chicks into  cardboard boxes with holes in the top that just say “Live Chickens” and “Fragile”. After hatching, chickens have all the nutrition they need for two days so unless they are delayed, starvation isn’t an issue. They crowd together for warmth and sleep in the dark box. When the chicks arrived at the post office in Memphis at 6:18 a.m., my friend got a wake-up call to collect her chickens ASAP. I can only imagine the scene at the post office if large numbers of chicks arrived on the same day and sat peeping to be set free.

When I arrived that evening to check it all out for myself, twenty plus Buff Orpingtons and Black Astrolorps ( a whole new dialect)  hopped over each other, flapped miniature wings, and appeared to have survived their adventure in good humor. A brown tortoise shell colored chick huddled with the others.This was the bonus chick- like the thirteenth doughnut from the bakery.It is an exotic mystery chicken; as it grows you see what you get. Since many of the others walked all over her, you had to figure she needed some assertiveness training or that they had already realized she is different. Hopefully , she’ll turn out to be the most beautiful of all.

There used to be many hatcheries throughout the country where you would pick out your chickens. We had several here in Memphis. Chickens have been delivered by railroad and then by mail for over a hundred years.I guess I’m one of the last to know. Growing up in New York doesn’t teach you everything!

We may need to make a road trip to deliver some of the chicks to her mom’s. That should make for an interesting drive!

This has me wondering what other strange things are delivered by mail. If you know of others , please let me know.

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About unsouthernbelle

I am a native New Yorker , transplanted to Memphis, who is a photographer, teacher, and wanderer. I am inspired by the beauty and stories that resonate from abandoned places and found objects. View all posts by unsouthernbelle

3 responses to “Chickens Through the Mail? Who knew ?

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