Thursday, September 10, 2009

I Love My Chickens!

Thor, the mighty rooster
Chickens in the flower bedsWell, hello - welcome to my front porch!

It's funny how many posts have run through my head for the past couple of weeks, just things I feel or think about that I want to get down. But I have been having camera issues, with just my little Kodak, and I had other pictures that were on my phone that I couldn't get from the phone to the computer. And I took pictures to GO with my posts. And, I am just a little bit lazy, too. Yeah, there's that. It's easier to sit down at the computer and skim through other people's blogs, or read posts on Facebook, or delete spam on email than it is to actually WRITE a post. I finally figured out why - yeah, lazy AND slow, did we say? Because writing is WORK. Work I enjoy, as much as I enjoy any sort of work, but then, when one is lazy, work is work, and well, too much of the time, I'd really prefer not to have to work at all. Drinking coffee and reading is about as much work as I like. But, then, some of the thoughts I just can't shake, so I guess I need to work on the whole self-discipline thing. Like this post about chickens.
I have had my chickens since the end of April, and have gone through many phases of their little feathered lives with them in that amount of time, from fuzzy peeping chicks, to gawky teenage chickens who were too big for the box in the bathroom anymore, to the first egg from one of them a week ago. I really love my chickens, and I know that is very strange, and I know most people find that rather odd. Oh well. I guess in general, I just really love animals, and these chickens have become another form of pet for me. Not that I will have any real issues eating them when they stop laying in a few years, and when one was eaten by a dog a month or two ago, I didn't cry any tears, because, in the end, well, they are just chickens. I am raising them for eggs, and eventually chicken stew in the pot, and they are easily replaced, But while I have them, I appreciate their personalities and qualities. They are really a very comical, and gentle-souled animal. Bird. Whatever.
Initially I kept them in their coop and little run. It's not very big, though, and I felt kind of bad for them. Like, I really WANTED them to be able to be "free-range" chickens, and not have to wait for me to throw green grass in there, and to be able to scratch around and dig for worms and eat bugs, etc. But, we live in town, and I have neighbors close-by on one side at least, and I have a bunch of cats who own the place, and four dogs, two of whom I don't think would show any particular love and devotion to a small flock of lunchmeat, and so, cooped they were. For some reason, I started letting them out into a little bit larger wire enclosure that wasn't secured, but opened up their world a little. That made them happier. And, they didn't escape, or fly away, or get eaten, ,or dig under the fence, or, or, or...they were just good chickens. THEN, I opened that up, and let them out in the driveway, and watched them carefully. Finally, I realized that these chickens just weren't going anywhere. Yeah, they'd range around the driveway, over to the barn, over to the yard, and yesterday, they finally ventured into my flower beds in the front yard (I looked out the front door and there was an Auracauna on my front steps...Now THAT was a first, I'm sure, for the history of this house) So, my chickens are happier, and I'm happier for them. I don't feel so cruel keep thing all "cooped up" anymore. And the best part of this is, for some reason the three little girls, the ones that were new in April (the two Auracaunas are older, and were gifts from a friend's dad so I would have a couple who were laying already, while I waited for mine to begin laying this fall. I've had two green eggs a day from them ever since), have started going to roost on top of their coop at night, instead of going inside it. The rooster and the two older ladies roost inside the pen, but not in their coop. So, I go out as soon as it gets dark, and scoop up my three gentle hens, one at a time, and carry them around to the door to the pen, and gently set them down inside, where they then scurry up the walkway into their coop. Then, after a couple of nights of having to practically shove the rooster, Thor, and the two older ladies in there, they now follow the younger girls. They really are smarter than people give them credit for, although I would never personally vote for chickens as being a particularly bright form of animal life. But the whole point to this is, this new ritual of having to put the chickens to bed at night, after a summer of just letting them roost outside their coop (but in their pen), is really sort of a comforting, soothing nighttime ritual. The birds are soft, and calm, and sleepy, and let me pick them up and stroke them, and talk to them, and then put them to bed with little or no fuss. After the coop is closed up, and I latch the door for the night, the day just seems somehow a little more complete. Calm. Restful. And I come in, from the cool nights which are quickly moving into autumn now, ready for sleep. I sleep better after having put the chickens to bed. I don't know why, but I just do. I know it's weird. I know liking chickens is weird. And I know that finding comfort in a ritual of my own making, of talking to birds and tucking them in for the night is probably, by far, one of the strangest things about me, currently. But, I'm really ok with that. I like my chickens.
Gracie the cat, trotting over to investigate the chickens in the front yard. None of them was terribly impressed with her, nor she with them. Live and let live, I guess.

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