Seems I have a tough family decision to make...

Discussion in 'Family Life - Stories, Pictures & Updates' started by orumpoultry, Mar 21, 2012.

  1. orumpoultry

    orumpoultry Songster

    Jan 30, 2012
    Trinity, TX
    A little back story, for some of you who don't know ( most of you ) -

    My family has been involved with chickens as far back as I can count. We have birds in our care that are 60+ years of bloodlines in the making. These birds are, without a doubt, the pride of the family. Their current care taker, my uncle, has been very depressed lately. He called my mother today ( his sister ) and basically informed her he wouldn't be hatching this year and would be slimming numbers. If I wanted to save any, I needed to get down there ASAP and pick up the bloodlines I don't want to chance losing. I only have room for two breeds, as they are breeds I already have on property and would happily make more pens for... But there are five breeds in question that I am seriously wanting to rescue.

    The two breeds in question are: Clarets ( whites, 'spangleds' [more like mottleds at this stage in development], and the two brown varieties. - AND - 'Whites' not sure what breed they really are, but since I was a kid I've known them as Whites. I've always been fond of these birds, as they are easy to handle ( considering they're game ) and very hardy. I once told my uncle if anything ever happened, I definitely wanted the clarets. They have been in the family for a LONG time. My great Uncle Slim got them from his great uncle, who got them from his grandfather and that's about all I know about them. Without a doubt, I am taking the rest of the clarets. Most likely going to take on the whites as well since I have been drooling over them for years. These birds are all banded and will come with the 'pedigree books' my family has kept on them. I'm pretty excited.

    BUT, I'm worried he will start GIVING away birds if we don't get them all out of there. He is very depressed. Hasn't hatched anything this year, has birds running willy nilly all over the property, and is generally slipping. Birds haven't been shown in over a year as he hasn't been feeling 'up to it'. But also, there is about 100 or so ROOSTERS missing. He thinks they were stolen. I am seconding this idea.

    He has five or six types of Grays, Hatches, Jumpers, Butchers, Sid Taylors, and three types of Blues. There are also 'Pumpkin' somethings, and many MANY other breeds I do not know. We're talking birds into the thousands here. Do NOT want to lose these birds! But, if we have to slim down, I would at least like to oversee who he is selling them to and offer them out with buy back guarantee. I repeat that several of these birds trace back 60+ years. 8+ generations... etc.

    Fly pens are in the works. My new poultry barn is in the works. But, I'm thinking I'm about to have a LOT of tractors / random pens around my yard. Seeing as roosters can NOT go in the same pen, be allowed near each other, have any contact at all whatsoeverEVER or they will kill/maul each other.

    So, now that I'm done rambling on about this...

    If you were in my situation, would you go with breeds you are FOND of and expand your own flocks? Or just stick with the two birds that were already preceeded to be handed down to you for the next generation of raising? I'm MORE than willing to take on more breeds... But I am also unsure. I'm physically shaking after writing all of this, so I guess I will stop here.

    In summary - Uncle is depressed. Birds are going 'missing'. Flock dispersal won't involve sales, it will involve FREE birds. No hatching in 6 or so months. Birds starting to lose their good looks due to lack of care. Property is starting to fall apart. 110 miles away, no chance in just taking over the whole operation there without moving back home. Wouldn't be able to move back home in a year, and I ( I ) own the property we live now... My grandfather owns 1/2 of the property the Houston birds are on, and my uncle the other half. My grandfathers half goes to me, not sure who Uncle Bubba willed his to.

  2. FireTigeris

    FireTigeris Tyger! Tyger! burning bright

    I am so sorry that you are going through this.

    there are laboratories that freeze genetic samples of biological material... maybe you could look into prices for saving eggs for years and preserve the genetics that way?

    Or probably not-

    Start breed clubs for these new breeds and screen members give out trios?


    Really I would add the best of the flock there that I already have (pick the best of the breeds I am working on) and then look at which breeds could be 'collapsed' and straightened back out later.

    Lets say ... rats I know about pet fancy rats- lets say Russian blue and American blue are close enough that I could put my breeding pools together and later straighten it back out as the colors are caused in different ways... So if I had to I'd get the best of both sets and let them run together till I had something set up.

    sorry I can't help more then that... maybe some local breeder can help too?
  3. WingingIt

    WingingIt Songster

    Apr 16, 2009
    How much property/room do you have? You haven't told us what the max. number of birds is that you think you can handle, property-wise.

    If you are the only one in the family who's interested in saving these birds, then you have to make the hard decision of how many breeds to bring to your place, which is going to be impacted by how much space you have available.

    It would certainly probably be easier to hone in on the two breeds you favor and are currently working on/with, but if you want to try and save and continue all of the breeds, you'll have to have a lot more pens and work ahead of you.

    Here are my thoughts on saving all of the breeds. Pick out the best of the best in small numbers and bring them to your place. This will allow you to continue pure matchings without having to house thousands of birds. As for the remaining chickens that will be dispersed, you can contact 4H and FFA chapters and see if anyone in their poultry clubs might be interested in taking some for projects. The chickens that are not the best examples of their breed could probably more easily (in your mind, I mean) be given away. If they are later bred with other breeds in someone's back yard, so be it, as they weren't the best of the breed, anyway. You know what I mean?

    I want to throw in a word or two about your Uncle, too. If he's the only one responsible for thousands of chickens, there's a chance it's just too much for him. Does he say he wants to get rid of all of them? I'm wondering if you could help him get rid of a lot of them and get it back to a more manageable number for him, if he'd decide to keep smaller numbers of any of the breeds. If he decided he wanted to keep smaller numbers of 3 breeds, then you wouldn't have to worry about taking representatives of every breed back to your place right now. Also, I'm sure you are, but please be careful in how you talk with him right now. Odds are he feels terrible doing this but is completely overwhelmed because of the depression. I wouldn't want him to somehow misunderstand and think he's creating problems for you and decide to get rid of them all before you get there, thinking he's saving you trouble. I hope he's seeing a doctor.

    Good luck!
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2012
  4. CityGirlintheCountry

    CityGirlintheCountry Green Eggs and Hamlet

    Jul 7, 2007
    Middle TN
    Actually, I would be more concerned about your uncle. Perhaps if he gets help for his depression he won't want to disband his flocks. I would be suspicious that he is stopping something that he has clearly loved for a long time. That is unusual. Have your mom or some family member get him to a doctor and make sure that he is okay.

  5. orumpoultry

    orumpoultry Songster

    Jan 30, 2012
    Trinity, TX
    I'll get to Uncle Bubba in a second.

    I'm not the only one interested. My brother and father ( although not from the same side of the family ) are setting up to take a few. My brother will likely only take a trio of his grays. My father only has one poultry barn, and only has room for two breeds. He will probably be taking some of the birds that were branched off from SSHamburgs as that's what he already has. He lives on a working deer ranch, so everything that comes onto the property must go through the proper chanel. It would be months, yet, before he could take any.

    As for me? I have four, almost five acres of land that I'm living on. 7 miles down the road we have 48. And a few towns over ( and dispersed all over the place in a few counties out here ) we have little 3-4 acre plots that WERE supposed to go to all the grand kids but just went to me and my brother. I have space ( here ) for PLENTY more birds. The know how, and material, to put together another poultry barn or two with separated pens for the roosters... I have pallets of wood material my father had JUST brought me from when he completed the new deer barn. Enough to throw up at LEAST one more 20x30 structure which I can ALSO cross section off into individual breeding pens. Just like we set up in Houston.

    As for Uncle Bubba? We've all been watching him slip. All been trying to get him help. He refuses to admit he has a problem. With depression, let alone with the alcohol. His wife has been on his back since I left for Florida ( just returned ) that no one will be carrying on the family business and he needs to get out of it NOW. I was gone for six months helping a dear friend get her barn back in order. During that time my own stock was slimmed majorly, except for selected breeding trios. We have JUST now built back up on our games. My layers were never touched, as my mother doesn't mind them. BUT! When I got back, one of the first things I did was go check on Bubba. That's when I started to notice the decline. It's only gotten worse. His wife won't let him seek treatment, as she believes the only thing wrong with him is the birds... I think she is wrong. He has been the main care taker ( once helped by my brother, now my brothers son and his own grandson help ). My Uncle is in his mid-fifties now I believe, so yes it is starting to take a toll on him. Even if he wont admit it. Or, wouldn't admit it. He finally admitted he had a problem yesterday and asked for my help. I'm one of three members of my family in this generation willing to take on the roles. Granted, I'm only 21, I do know what I'm getting myself into. I would like to help my uncle in the only way I can. By saving what I can, so he's not totally destroyed. As for a local 4H / FFA, have yet to get into contact with them. Thanks for that idea. He has never complained about what little help he did, or did not, have. Talked to the neighbors / caretakers, seems we're already down to the best 500 or so. Which means I need to get there quick....

    My only other concern is I do NOT have a trailer, I have access to one. For those of you who live in Texas, you know what it's like transporting MULTIPLE game roosters and hens... I have a 110 miles to go, one way, with whatever birds I load up when I go down there next week. Roosters will be transported in rooster boxes, hens in cages. Don't want the local law man to fine me. They have all the proper paperwork, it's just... Suspicious. Especially coming from downtown Houston to my neck of the woods. I won't be transporting anything illegal. Just a few birds who have a nasty rep for fighting, but haven't seen anything like that in YEARS. Will be setting them up on tie cords with the hens all in one big pen for a little bit. All in all, I've done the math and the calculations. With what I've got hatching/brooding, I can safely take on about 75 more birds right now without being put in a bind over space or anything like that.

    Again I repeat - we are trying to help my uncle. If he will take it, we will help him. I believe his wife is the main cause of what he's been doing, how he has been. She has never supported him. Never treated him with any respect. They have no children together, but she has kids. In my entire life, she has never called me her niece. Just Tracy's daughter. Or Kenneth's niece. Or, something like that. She has always been the wicked witch of the west in my opinion. But, depression runs in my family. So chances are she's just not helping with whatever it is that he is going through. She has, as far back as I can count, wanted him to "get rid of those stinking chickens" and "what good are they for, anyways?"

    I'm going to have a sit down with some family members today after work. See what we can do to help them, and help them. As much as I hate my uncle for things in the past ( that I will not talk about here ), I sure don't want to see him like this. I sure don't want to lose my families pride and joy. What can be found in pictures as far back as the 1800's in my family photo albums are the clarets. So, they are ( without fail ) going home with me next week. Most likely the whites as well. Then I just have to see where it goes because once I get them out of there, I will jump in and help my mother try and get help for her brothers mental instability. Brought on by a family crisis which includes the kids watching their mother ( my grandmother ) die over the same reasons. Will spare details on that as well.
  6. whitejerabias

    whitejerabias In the Brooder

    Dec 6, 2011
    *cyber hugs* I know what it is like to see family (and at one point in time, myself) descend into mental health crises. How infuriating it is to watch them refuse desperately needed help. And how crushing to have to dismantle an age old family business because of it.

    No advice for you on the birds, I've never had any yet. If you are still looking for homes though, we are chickenless and I was about to post a craisglist ad for some POL birds and a roo or two. I am in MA. Not that I am or will be a breeder, but still...
  7. WingingIt

    WingingIt Songster

    Apr 16, 2009
    I'm glad that your uncle has realized he needs help, that's a HUGE step. I'm glad the family is rallying to help him and take the chickens. I hope it works out well for all of you.

  8. orumpoultry

    orumpoultry Songster

    Jan 30, 2012
    Trinity, TX
    Well, this is the decision after the sit down:

    We are going to VASTLY disperse the flock. To only breeders we know / trust. A few of the birds will be going out on contract. Homes must be inspected or illegal items that may end up putting the birds lives in jeopardy. A whole complicated thing basically.

    I am going to take the 'best' ten of the following breeds. I say 'best' because, apparently, over the past two years ( or three poultry generations and then some ) he has not been culling or breeding to SOP. Also hasn't done any showing so god only knows how far from these breeds have fallen... Anyways....

    Clarets - Solid and Whites
    Brown Reds - A LOT of touching up to do with these birds.
    Two or three trios of the different Grays.
    One trio of Travelling, and one of Romanian Blues.

    My brother is taking the rest of the Grays and Hatch cock. All of the Sid Taylors.

    My father is taking two of the 'breeds' bred from the Silver Spangled Hamburgs ( a line my uncle created )

    The others will be sold.

    My uncle will then be left with less than 100 birds. A reasonable amount, and it won't leave him with nothing. He's like the rest of us... Has been obsessed with poultry since preteen or earlier. Heck, I got my original trio of Clarets from him at 12. They were in my original flock. He's not going to get completely out of it, he just doesn't want to do the whole big thing again. So, looks like I'm making a trip to the hardware store in the morning for supplies to build tractors ( just the fencing ) and get a few of those thrown up for now. Then off Sunday/Monday to help wrangle and disperse the flock. If all goes according to plan I will be coming home with a truck full of birds, and a new guard donkey, Monday evening.

    I just wish he would have informed us all sooner... Or we had paid enough attention to notice. Either way, this just adds the cherry on top to my stress levels over getting my horse home from Florida...
  9. sfw2

    sfw2 Global Menace

    I'm glad you've come up with a reasonable plan. It's possible that a combination of fewer birds, and knowing that he has the love and concern of his family, will make a big difference for your uncle. I certainly hope so.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

  10. orumpoultry

    orumpoultry Songster

    Jan 30, 2012
    Trinity, TX

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