The Flock Block pool

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Since the Egg Pool was such a smashing success, I’m going to run another contest. Like the last one, this one involves chickens, and anyone with a thoroughgoing knowledge of them will probably have a leg up.

It all started at Agway.

In general, I’m not much of a spender. While I certainly appreciate the charms of jewelry, and clothes, and electronics, I don’t often feel the need to own anything beyond the bare minimum. I don’t believe this is an admirable trait, and I don’t take any credit for being this way. I’m simply hard-wired not to care.

Until I go to Agway.

You can send me into Tiffany’s, or Barney’s, or Takashimaya and I’ll look around for a while, admire the beautiful things, and then start thinking about lunch. Agway, though, gets me every time.

Agway, as its name implies, caters to the agricultural crowd. It sells everything from utility trailers to lettuce seeds, and has sections for composting, fence-building, bird-feeding, gardening, and horses (horse owners, that is – I’ve never seen a horse at Agway, but I don’t think they turn them away).

Any chickens on your block?

Any chickens on your block?

Naturally, they have a chicken section. By the time we got to it, I’d already passed up the gardening clogs, rain collection barrel, and fatwood bundles, and my resolution was wearing thin. Once the Flock Block caught my eye, I was doomed.

A Flock Block is a 25-pound cube of compressed seeds, grains, and grit. It’s designed to supplement chickens’ diets during the winter, when they can’t range free. It also seems to provide entertainment. It’s so densely packed – it crams twenty-five pounds of feed into a cube about ten inches square – that the chickens have to work at it to get the food.

It was $10.99, about twice the per-pound price of their regular feed.

We’ve been feeling a little sorry for our chickens since they’ve been cooped up for the winter, and we decided they deserved a treat. We bought it.

On the way home, Kevin said, “Make me a market on how long the Flock Block lasts.”

Because Kevin is a commodity trader, trade-speak has become the patois of our marriage. When he asks for a market, he wants to know at what price (i.e. date) I would sell and at what price I would buy.

Say, for example, we’re meeting a friend who’s chronically late. We’re supposed to be at the restaurant at 7:00, but we don’t really expect our friend until some time later. “Make me a market on Joe,” I’ll say. “I’m 7:15 bid at 7:25,” Kevin might answer, meaning that he’d buy 7:15, expecting Joe to be later than that, but sell 7:25, expecting Joe to be there by then.

“Sold!” I might say, if I expected Joe to be earlier than 7:15. I’d buy if I expected him to be later than 7:25. Or, I might decline the trade altogether, if I thought it was a good market.

I did some quick calculations on the Flock Block. It’s half the weight of a bag of feed, and it takes them a month to go through that. That means that two weeks is the dead minimum. But they still have the feed, and they might not even like the Flock Block. But they’re probably bored with the feed, and anything new would be preferable.

“I’m 22 days bid at 27,” I said.

“Sold!” said Kevin.

Now you have all the relevant information about the Flock Block, and you even know that I think it’ll last longer than 22 days, and Kevin thinks it won’t last that long. I can also tell you that, when we gave it to them, they first eyed it suspiciously, then pecked it tentatively, and finally went at it with a will. They seem to enjoy it, but it does look difficult to dislodge the seeds and grains.

To participate in the Flock Block pool, all you have to do is pick the date the chickens will eat the last of it.

Today is February 20th, so if you think it’ll last four weeks, you pick March 20th. If you think the chickens will turn up their beaks at it, you might even pick a day in April, or even later. Leave your guess in the comments, and I will list them in the Flock Block Pool calendar on the left sidebar. Please don’t pick a date someone else has picked.

The prize — there’s a prize! — is a jar of our very own handcrafted Cape Cod sea salt.

And you thought Publishers Clearing House was exciting!

They don't seem to mind guests

They don't seem to mind guests

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Comments

  1. March 23rd.

  2. I’ll guess March 8th. It’s my birthday.
    Just a little warning – watch out for diarrhea in your flock. I’ve never bought a Flock Block, because I know a few people that have had their hens get diarrhea after they gave them a Flock Block.
    I made my own though!
    Mixed oatmeal, some of their crumbles, raisins, brewer’s yeast, dried seaweed, scoop of dried corn and black oil sunflower seeds, a couple eggs and some olive oil in a large baking dish. Then I baked it at 325 for an hour (or 2) until it was hard. My girls had fun pecking at it. Although they would rather have their daily hot mash. Spoiled!

  3. Is the cat helping? Because that will affect my market…

    Going by how fast my flock can strip a leg of lamb(cooked, not a living one!) I’m 16 days bid at 19 (9th Mar, out at 12th)

    Ohh..commodity trader talk is fun. If I fail do I get a big bonus anyway or is that just bankers?

  4. And if I win, will Ed McMahon be presenting me with the sea salt?

  5. Catalina — And here I was so excited about our Flock Block! I hope we don’t have trouble.

    Jen — I’ve got to put you down for one day, so I’m giving you the 11th. It’s the only way I can manage the responses. And isn’t Ed McMahon dead?

  6. march 20th, 2010

  7. Put me in for March 17th. It’s a lucky day for the Irish, don’t you know!

  8. beachnitpicker says:

    I’ll go with March 6th. I think they’ll get enthusiastic, even competitive, and make short work of it.

  9. Apologies – I got carried away with the lingo…the 11th it is.

    I didn’t know Ed McMahon died! I guess it wasn’t big news in England.

  10. Question…does it have to be eaten by just chickens…cause when the rats and mice get wind of it, it may not last as long as you thought. Will you put a camera in the coop to qualify the eaters?

    Before I place my bet I need more info!!! Thanks.

  11. What fun! My guess is March 9th.

  12. I’m going waaay out there with April 2. I’m an Agway type haunter too; a few yr. ago I bought a 25 lb. salt block (think it had vitamins/minerals too) at our local Agway version and put it out in the sagebrush for the deer. I never saw deer using it, though they were oft around the house finishing off the flower garden, etc., but the block steadily decreased in size, increasing tongue-size depressions appearing on each corner. Maybe the local bears were at it.

  13. Can I have March 12th…terribly jealous as I don’t live a place where there are chickens or salt water.

  14. I’m suspicious that you won’t be able to tell when it’s really gone because little pieces will be mixed with dirt on the ground. In that mood, I’ll pick March 15th, the Ides.

  15. March 16th, please. I want to choose the 30th because it’s my anniversary but I honestly don’t think it will last that long.

  16. I pick March 13th.

  17. I’m in for March 21, please.

  18. Jane — You’ll just have to factor the mice in to the best of your ability! I will never know which critters contributed.

    Ann — Aw, that’s just your suspicious nature! The chickens are very good at cleaning up the crumbs. In fact, they’ll eat what comes off the block before they’ll peck for more. And I promise that we will be vigilant in searching for remains.

  19. April 8th

  20. Being the accountant that I am I am going for April 15

  21. My anniversary and the first day of spring, March 20 please!

    Virginia
    http://livinglocalnh.blogspot.com

  22. March 14th please, Tamar.

  23. Can I have April 3rd please? Its my birthday so maybe I’ll be lucky!

  24. Marilyn Baker says:

    I’m picking April 16 but can’t seem to get it registered.

  25. I can spend hours longer in a hardware store than in a jewelry store. We had friends who were chronically late for dinner. Last time we met in the city (that would be NYC) we told them ressie was for 7 PM. Told the Maître d’ that if they called to check, he was to instruct it was for 7, but it was actually for 8. We also told the Maître d’that it would likely to be wa-ay past 7 when they arrived. We sat in the bar, had a drink. Ordered a second and at 8:30 sharp they showed up!

    I can’t figure out commodities nor chickens but looking forward to learning more about the latter, at least.

  26. Marilyn Baker says:

    At last I’ve learned something this South Beach girl can use: how to make a market. Since my wonderful son-in-law loves to gamble, I can tempt him with all kinds of markets: what time my daughter will get home from work, how long to get seated at our newest, hottest local restaurant, etc. Unlimited potential !!!