September 9, 2014

Meet the Girls

I smiled to myself as I lugged the heavy metal bucket from one pen to another. Farm chores! I was doing farm chores! If my neighbors knew how giddy I felt, they'd never stop rolling their eyes at me. I felt like a little kid at play, only this was real. With a feeling of satisfaction I scooped feed from the bucket to pour into the hanging feeder. The chickens ran out into their yard, clucking a greeting as they came. I tossed a scoop of feed into the ground. They hurried to the spot and immediately began scratching and pecking at the food.

The sun was just peeking over the rise, making the dew on the grass sparkle. I indulged myself for a moment and took a seat on a log near the chicken yard. The chickens left the feed on the ground and crowded the fence near me, talking to me through the wire. I plucked some blades of grass and pushed them through the fence. They shoved each other out of the way in attempts to reach the green stuff and pulled one blade at a time from my fingers. I held a conversation of sorts with the chickens. We clucked back and forth to each other and I was delighted to see if I called one by name, that hen would raise her head and peer at me with a curious look. Was it my imagination or did they really know their names? 

May I introduce the girls: 
This photo cracks me up. They look shocked to have their picture taken.

When we picked them out from a large metal tub at the feed store they were tiny fuzzballs that could fit in the palm of my hand. They spent the first few weeks on our back porch in a brooder box, where they were warm and we could keep an eye on them. This being our first experience at raising fowl, we weren't at all sure what it would be like. I had no idea just how charming they would be or how quickly I would become attached. 

They were handled often and would even hop into our hands when we reached into their box. David discovered that placing a little chick on her back and rubbing her feet seemed to put her into a trance. Blondie loved it so much she would close her eyes and go limp the moment he picked her up. 

I enjoyed watching them grow, each with her own personality. Henrietta and Clementine were bossy and the two of them took turns being top chick. To this day I'm still not sure which of the two is really in charge. 
Penny was the smallest, but super fast. She now zooms about snagging the best treats before the others can reach them. Blondie was a sweetheart. Today, she is the most likely to run up to me to peck at my shoes. Tansy was much more stand-offish. She still doesn't like to be touched.

And then there was Ruby. Ruby was an odd bird. She would stand in the corner pecking at the wall. She's still a bit of a goof.

My Ruby.

They quickly outgrew the brooder and Matt set about building them a safe, sturdy coop and yard. They made themselves at home and a couple of months later I can now look forward to these each morning:

Eggs! Beautiful, fresh, brown eggs! It's like finding treasure - every morning!

I  always wanted to raise chickens. The very idea brought back strong memories of being a little girl visiting my grandparents' farm. How I loved helping my Grandma Neta feed the hens and collect the eggs. Now, all these years later, I have the joy of raising these marvelous birds in my own backyard. I cherish the thought of taking after my Grandma and think of her often when I'm out at the coop. Chickens at last! And I'm enjoying every moment of it.

Blondie still likes to be held.

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