Thursday, January 29, 2009

Neglected and Forgotten...NOT

The Chickens have been feeling like a woebegone stepchild and are developing a bad case of middle child syndrome. I have neglected their emotional needs for the last several months by not writing about them.

They know it. I know it.

Therefore, it is once again time to focus some loving attention on my two-legged half-brained feathered friends who still provide me with fabulous entertainment. Every time I watch them scratch, peck and strut around our yard I am happy, and I just don't know why.

Maybe it's because they let the kids pick them up and carry them around like this...

Or maybe I like them because I appreciate the focused energy of the roosters while guarding their flock and how the two cockerels ban together to attack us in unison. But regardless these birds hold special place in my heart.

When I was more obsessed by the chickens, I did a series on them back around the time when I started this blog. This produced some mildly humorous antidotes. The stories in sequence are:

The Chicken House,
They're Here,
When Roosters Attack,
and The Chicken Whisperer.

But here and now, I shall proceed with "The State of the Chicken Nation." First order of business:

Egg Production

"The Ladies," our 12 hens, as they are affectionately called, were dramatically decreasing their egg production in mid-December. I was forced to buy eggs and chicken feed called "lay crumbles" and it was totally pissing me off since the purchase of eggs defeated the whole purpose of having our own "poultry." The grocery store highway robbers want an obscene 4.00/dozen for the "good" kind. And I knew what the problem was. TOO SHORT A DAY LENGTH. That meant we needed to install a light and a timer in the coop to trick the ladies biological clocks into thinking it is the middle of summer.

I really wonder what we humans would all look like if we had no artificial light but that is a whole other story. We'd probably be growing back hair if it were not for house lights, but once again I digress...

So, now it is about six weeks into "Project Spotlight." Miraculously, we have gone from a measly two or three eggs a day to ONE DOZEN freaking eggs a day. Can you say scrambled eggs, quiche, egg salad sandwiches, and hard boiled eggs? The eggs are literally falling out of the hens butts now.

To be totally honest and completely truthful, I am getting a little sick of looking at the eggs piling up in my fridge. In fact, am suppressing a rather strong gag reflex when I cook scrambled eggs in the morning... So if you need fresh eggs just give me a holler. I think I may resort to throwing them at the dumb ass drivers that fly down our road going 70 (speed limit is 45).

Chicken Mortality

We had one fowl murdered commit suicide about a month ago. I witnessed the transgression and will forgive the chicken for taking her own life since she is after all...only a chicken.

The neighbors to the south have a dog named Hurley who has upon occasion attempted to move in to our house and live with us. We are on a first name basis with this dog since she put herself through the whole adoption process only to be repossessed by her "parents." Hurley used to shimmy under the fence and snuggle up with Suzi's dog, Jack, in his dogloo to spend the night. Then she'd follow the kids around all day long licking them like they were her long lost puppies... Her owners begrudgingly fortified their fence to keep the fugitive in and she has remained on HER side of the fence now for about a year.

With this on again, on again, love-love relationship we have with Hurley (we like her), she still meanders the fence line when she sees us. We talk to her. She wags her tail with a ferocious happiness. Plus she still likes to sniff noses with Jack.

One afternoon while the chickens were "free ranging" they were gobbling bugs and other unmentionables along the fence near Hurley dog. This one chicken with a death wish was sticking her head through holes in the fence and WHAM, Hurley jumped her and pulled her through. Two shakes of a dragonfly's wing and it was over. The chicken was dangling limp and lifeless in the mouth of a very happy dog.

"Hurley killed a chicken," I exclaimed with surprise. I was positioned about 50 feet away from the crime scene. Before the tragedy, I was following Ella around to make sure she did not put something disgusting in her mouth.

I jogged over to where the fatality took place. The victim was a Danish Leghorn chicken. I breathed a sigh of relief that it was neither Penny or Henny, my two favorite chickens... They have splendid black shimmery feathers with a bright copper ring forming a low necklace above their bosom. I probably would have been sobbing like a baby if one of them were killed. This is Penny here to the right.

"It's only a Danish," I yelled over to Suzi who was in route to see the carnage like any good rubbernecker should. I'm thinking to myself at that point, "That is the equivalent to a chicken jumping off the f-ing Golden Gate bridge."

"That's good." She agreed emphatically. Suzi shares my disdain for the Danish birds too.

"Yep, one less of those spastic, flighty hens. Good riddance," I continued vehemently. I have on occasion thought we should ax the Danish hens in our flock and replace them with calmer less pestery fowl.

I hopped the fence and retrieved the dead bird almost breaking my ankle. I shook it off since I'm tough like that. Then we showed all the kids the lifeless bird and explained what happened. We had a brief mourning period where we all talked about the bird. Then it was over.

Now if we seem a little callus about this particular chicken you are correct. But let me 'splain myself. These Danish chickens have been nothing but trouble from the first crack in their shell. They peck each other viciously like a mini-pack of famished velociraptors. And to top it off they pluck the butt feathers out of their companions, and EAT the bleeping feathers. I have watched the Danish hens zoom at hen who is lower is in the pecking order and basically inhale a feather off another birds hiny. It is the Danish hens mission in life to see that no other hens ever grow plumage around their asses for some reason. We still have several bald hens due to the incessant feather picking. It makes me crazy. Is there an AA for chickens? Cause we need some serious group therapy about now.

This poor victim is Freckles a Barred Rock hen. She has suffered the wrath of the Danish hens. She looks awful but appears to be quite happy in spite of her embarrassing condition.

So after the loss of one feather-plucking busy-body Danish chicken (pictured to the left), we decided that any replacement hens are NOT going to include the Danish Leghorn variety. And if you're thinking about getting some chickens pick something else or you be sorry.

As for our other NON-Danish chickens, I adore them. Their attitudes are lovely.

Next time: The Rooster Report


relimom said...

Maybe you also like chickens because they've got the whole Zen-thing down pat. They simply are.

Ever seen a depressed chicken?
I don't think so!

So Not Mom-a-licious said...

Well you saved me from myself today, that's for sure. I had one foot out the door, ready to by a herd of Danish chicky thingies. They do come sold in herds right?
Gawd, now I feel guilty for buying eggs in teh store. Are you sending 2 dozen with my V-day box? Bubble wrap them please.

Kendra said...

I'm moving in with you. I want chickens...and roosters...LOTS of roosters. I'm totally jealous here. LOL

Tink said...

I can't stop laughing that chicken with the bare butt is funny.

Grand Pooba said...

I learned more about chickens in that one post than I have in my whole life! Glad Penny is safe, and as long as the dog is happy, I'm happy!

Throw some of those egss my way! No, I'm not a dumb ass driver, I'm just sayin.

Rita T. said...

We used to raise chickens when we lived in the country. Aren't they fun? HA!

Love your description of yourself, by the way. Mom's do it all.

Suzi said...

That about sums it up!

Frogs in my formula said...

I can't stop laughing about your line "I forgave the chicken." Your blog always makes me feel like I've stepped outside into some fresh, clean air. Thank you!

blueviolet said...

They're actually pretty darn cool when you stop to study them.

fidget said...

oh my hen nudity! Well if you get hungry, you'll know which one will be quicker to dress for dinner

Michelle said...

That's so cute that you love your chickens. My grandparents used to live in NC and had many of there own. They do provide many hours of entertainment. I always enjoyed watching them.

Kendra said...

You've been awarded for being such a rockn farming chick. Please visit my blog to pick up your award.

Rose said...

I'll have to bring the egg carton back for a refill! I loved the eggs I brought home last week- still have a couple...

Can you get a duck...I think it would be fun to have one duck living with the chickens... :)

for whatever reason- I have always wanted a pet duck... :)

ga.farmwoman said...

I loved your chicken tale, and while I am on tales or tails, poor Freckles.
I don't believe I want any of the Danish hens.
We had some similar chicken suicides where about 3 jumped into a visiting dog's mouth and was gobbled up.
I look forward to the Rooster Report.
Have a great day.

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