Aug 23, 2012

All You Ever Wanted To Know About The Ladies.

I feel like I have owned chickens forever. But then I count back to May 8 and realize they are not even four months old. They arrived on a much anticipated Tuesday and Tatiana happened to be home from school so she and I grabbed a cardboard box with some pine shavings in the bottom of it and hurried to the Feed store in our hometown. We left the Feed store with two golden chicks, one deep red chick, two black chicks and one white chick. They were so fluffy, they made that peeping chick sound, and we were so excited to be chick mommies. We rigged up their heating lamp at just the right height above the chicks enormous, blue, Rubbermaid box home. We figured out the food. We figured out the water. We added pine shavings. And then we stood around breathing down their necks watching their every move. Everyday was an adventure. We proudly showed the chicks to anyone and everyone.

I was so amazed at how fast they grew. And I also was amazed at how devoted my 10 and 12 year old have been to these chickens. Everyday when I wake up I think to myself, "Will today will be the day they grow tired of the chickens?" But it has not happened yet. Maybe in the dead of winter when it is miserably cold? Time will tell. But for now, the first thing they do in the morning and the last thing they do in the evening is chicken related. And many times in the middle of the day I will look at the window and see one of my girls or both of them wandering the yard holding a chicken or sitting in the hammock holding a chicken, or chasing a chicken. These chickens do not know any other life than being constantly held and played with by Tatiana and Natalie. I can imagine what would happen if they ever met other chickens and chatted and found out that their little chicken lives are not normal.

The chickens have a coop that the man of the house made for them. They have a little chicken yard. They even have a chicken playpen....yes, chickens apparently need accessories. The playpen was necessary because they ate every bug and every piece of grass in their chicken yard and they need to be able to scratch and eat bugs to occupy their time. I have tried letting them roam the yard and the woods but they can not keep away from my neighbors blueberries and my perennials. So we find ourselves moving the playpen from spot to spot in our yard and in our woods  so that our royal chickennesses are not bored to death in their chicken yard. I can not believe I am worried about my chickens being bored. But I am. A bored chicken is not a happy chicken. It happens to be a chicken that starts to pick on its friends.

The chickens have a fearless leader and her name is Henrietta, she is a White Leghorn chicken and she is a very bad chicken. She is the one who we found nonchalantly sitting on the neighbors fence. She is the one we found mockingly sitting on the top of the chicken coop. She is the one who daringly ate the neighbors blueberries. She is the one who is always out of the pen while everyone else is in it. She is the one who is always on the back porch peering through the sliding glass doors at the humans in the house. Chickie, Frango, Kip, Pepper, and  Grace all love to tattle on Henrietta. They run along frantically clucking trying to tell anyone who will listen that Henrietta is breaking all the rules. One day when I was laying in my hammock in the back yard I sensed something...no it was not the force.... I opened my eyes and there was Henrietta the white leghorn chicken walking carefully along the top wooden bar of my hammock. I just stared with my mouth agape as she carefully moved each chicken leg along the wooden bar and then flew down when she reached the end of the bar. She is a very cocky chicken and I have to keep my eye on her. Can you just tell she is trouble by the picture I took of her. She just marches right up to the camera.

I never meant for these chickens to be free range chickens but I love the joy it brings them to be let out of their pen. They all burst out of the pen and run as fast as their fat chicken legs will allow. Hurrying to see who will get the bugs first. I feel so bad when I see them longingly looking over the fence at the greener grass and more plentiful bugs. I cannot deny that they are causing a little bit of trouble by scratching by the roots of some of my dear perennial plants which is why I am looking very forward to the time when the garden will be done producing veggies and I can throw the ladies inside that fence and let them scratch all around to their hearts content knowing they are not harming anything.

The chickens do not lay eggs yet. The word on the street is that they will start laying them when they are about six months old. We are looking forward to that time. We already have customers lined up for their eggs. And I have seen the most adorable egg cartons that have six egg spots not 12 or 18 just an adorable 6.

Now that we have these chickens I have become very aware of all things chicken....why did the chicken cross the road jokes,chicken art, and of course all the chicken sayings that are a part of all of our lives...now that I have observed these chickens I understand all these sayings.....

fly the coop
birds of a feather flock together
walking on eggshells
nest egg
scratching out a living
hen pecked
rule the roost
not everything its cracked up to be

the list goes on and on and on.

I hope the chickens don't think I am going to hold them the whole time the kids are at school. I hope that Henrietta learns to value choosing the right. I am uber excited about the compost possibilities that have arrived with the chickens. I also love knowing they are chowing down on bugs in my yard. And I love what my kiddos are learning....about chickens....and life :) Okay, and I am having a bit of fun with them too. I went outside the other day in my apron with my hair piled every which way on top of my head to dump some stuff in my snazzy new compost bin and I came upon a chicken who looked like it needed me so I picked it up and it laid its head on my shoulder like it was trying to tell me that it longed to rule the roost or maybe she was telling me that living with Henrietta is like walking on eggshells all the time. Whatever it was my kids caught the chicken snuggling with me and insisted on taking my picture. UGH...caught paying attention to the chickens :)