Last spring I dove head first in to chicken farming. I found a clutch of young laying hens on Craigslist and built a coop. I was off and running. I had seven beautiful and classy hens who gave me and my family delicious organic eggs every day. Life was good.

However, there is a secret that most people don’t know. That is that chicken farming is addicting and you can never have enough chickens. Shortly after I got my laying hens, I ended up with 16 more chickens. You might wonder how this can happen. Well, very innocently of course.

You see I had stopped at a local farm and ranch supply store to pick something up for my dogs and wouldn’t you know it, the store just happened to be full of the cutest creatures on God’s green earth. Baby chicks. I couldn’t possibly go home without some, now could I?

Well, guess what? It just so happens that it is chick season again. Wouldn’t you know it that I just so happened to wander into that same store and I also happened to walk out with six more chicks. They’re just so darn cute and so darn cheap (pun intended).

What I didn’t realize before, was that chicken farming is contagious. You see my neighbor had been eyeing my hens and loving the free farm fresh eggs. Well, wouldn’t you know it, she just so happened to wander into that same store (twice) and walked out with a total of 16 chicks herself just last week.

Just a word of advice for those of you who haven’t caught chick fever yet. Here are a few ways to avoid catching it. Don’t go into your local farm and ranch store for any reason this time of year. Do not pick up or touch an irresistibly cute little fuzzy peeper. Just touching one chick will cause you to catch this debilitating disease.

Whatever you do, do not snuggle with said chick and coo or baby talk to it. This causes the fever to spike rapidly. Once you have reached this point, there is no way to cure it. So be careful out there. Chick fever is spreading through Missoula.

Joy Larson is a mother of four boys, graduate of the University of Montana, animal lover and writer.