Who knew a few years ago that chickens would be my favorite pets? Now I have a collection of 21 hens and a rooster. I'm sure they will be common topics on this blog.
This year's batch came from IA when they were one day old. It just so happened we had a late season snow storm as they were in transit, and the Interstate was shut down. I called the hatchery and they assured me that if any didn't make it, I would have my birds replaced... but the idea of receiving a box with 25 dead chicks in it was too heartbreaking to bear! After several phone calls to sympathetic postmasters, I finally got through to one who knew where the truck would be dropping my chicks for the night, before they would come to my PO the next morning. We drove there at 6:30pm and met the truck behind the post office... and there was my box. There were other chicks on the truck too. Not all fared so well. I was worried it was too late, but I could hear frantic chirping that gave me hope. When we opened it up at home, our chickies were all safe and sound, and in the end, we only lost one.
So here I am, going from a person who doesn't go for house-pets at all, to having chicks in the basement.
The pictures speak for themselves... I've gone in head over heels. And yes, that's a play-pen, and no, it isn't used for children anymore. (notice the escapee on the edge...)
Once they feathered out, we moved them to a little warm spot in the barn, close to where we keep the bunnies. In no time they had outgrown it and took over the entire barn. Emma is terribly afraid of roosters, so she wouldn't go out to do her bunny chores without her brave big brother for a guard. Mayda was the opposite; she loved to go out and help hand feed the chicks.
But soon enough they had even outgrown the barn... I knew they were ready to truly free range when the "peeps" and "chirps" were completely replaced with squawks and "cock-a-doodles"!
In August, Tyler took a chick from that batch to the Fair. It was an Ameraucana (called an Easter Egger, because of the blue and green eggs they lay), who had the most unusual coloring. She nearly looked like a hawk! We even gave her a bath and Tyler worked with her daily: until she could be examined in one hand, show off her bright eyes, and even pose. For all his effort he earned a purple ribbon.
After the fair she became just another one of the chickens again, until one day when the neighbor dog came visiting. Mayda came running to me yelling that she had seen the dog with "Tyler's chicken" in it's mouth! Tyler and I ran to the rescue but only found the dog with a handful of feathers in his jaws. I put him on a leash, and told Tyler to walk him home, and went looking for the chicken. No luck, just a HUGE pile of feathers around the corner of the house. I told Mayda that either that chicken was gone, or it was completely naked. And since I had seen Buck (our dog) swallow an entire chicken before, I knew it was possible.
I met Tyler walking down the road, coming back from the neighbors. He had told them that their dog "might" have gotten into the chickens, and he was tearful as he told me about it for fear he may have gotten the poor pooch in trouble with its owners. It broke my heart to tell him we couldn't find the bird, and by then he was in complete tears. The poor boy went looking too, and brought me what he proclaimed must have been her "last green egg". Sadly, he took a feather from the yard and put it with her picture in his 4-H album beside the ribbon he had won.
I offered to do his chicken chores at dusk, and went out to shut up the hen-house door... it was there I found a nearly-plucked but very alive hawk colored hen, just waiting to be let in! I never thought I would see such a thing as a ten year old boy hugging a chicken. I just love his dear sweet sensitive heart! What a gift from God. :)
And even now she still lays me a green egg nearly every day.
A special shout out to Egg Carton Labels by ADozenGirlz. If you haven't checked out her blog, there's lots of great Chicken info there! :)
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