Once in a while, I have other things on my mind besides Disney. Hard to believe, isn’t it? This is one of those times. So if you’re here for the Disney stuff, it’ll be back in the very next post (promise!), but you might want to go now. This is quite a long tale. It’s somewhat sad and only time will tell if there will be a happy ending.
Random Thoughts on Chickens (and how I’m trying to be a friend of fowl)
This story starts back in July when Joseph decided to move home. We welcomed him with open arms, of course. He’s making awesome grades in college and has big plans for his future that will most certainly involve moving away. For now he’ll have room and board and we’ll get to enjoy his company.
Before he moved back in, we knew Joe had a pet snake, Smaug, and a pet tortoise, Arno, but we had no idea he’d be bringing home three pet chickens. Let’s not dwell on how said chickens lived in his apartment prior to moving to our backyard, mmmmkay? So, the chickens…Brandy (a fine girl), Hei Hei, and Kylo Hen…They were precious – three different breeds – and as friendly as can be. Notice I said “were”.Just a few days after Joseph and the menagerie settled in, some loose dogs (we live in the country=no leash law) broke into the coop and made off with Hei Hei and Kylo Hen. Brandy was then left all alone and I was heartbroken for Joseph and Brandy both. Which prompted me to, well, you can probably guess…
I made my first ever visit to a Tractor Supply Store for some chicks, so Brandy would have a flock. At the same time, I bought a seriously strong fortress to surround the chicken coop. We ended up with six Isa Brown chicks (minimum purchase reqired and all that) who immediately looked upon Brandy as both mother and supreme leader. And with a new, covered, six-foot tall, chain-link enclosure, the coops (I soon bought a second so everyone would have plenty of shelter) were secure and our feathered friends were safe!
Suddenly, I was a chicken farmer…
Having grown up in the ‘burbs of a major metropolitan area, I knew absolutely nothing about chickens other than they lay eggs and also taste delicious. I had no idea I would soon be making time every day to visit our little flock. They were cute and funny and even let me pet and hold them. Before long, they were eating out of my hand and one in particular liked to jump onto my arm and stand there until all the food was gone. I found watching them oddly soothing. They were like therapy chickens. We’d let them out of their pen to free-range (under our watchful eye) and they’d follow me. When I’d sit down, they’d come over and hang out with me. Even Megan and Grant would spend time with these little chickens for fun. Yes, I’m still using past-tense…
Monday afternoon when I came home from work, Joseph met me at the door with a very serious face. He had bad news and did his level best to break it to me gently. The evil marauding dogs had come back and were big enough and heavy enough to jump on the gate to the pen and bend the latch. All the chickens were gone except one. Killed by the dogs, the only remains were lots of feathers and Brandy, always so sweet and gentle, whose body Joseph found in a field quite a distance from our house.
Six weeks. That’s how long it took me to fall in love with a flock of chickens. I was incredibly sad. In fact, in an alarming and uncharacteristic display of heartbreak, I sobbed like a baby. Raymond and Joseph tried their best to cheer me up, but I was (for a very little while) inconsolable. Yes, they were just a bunch of birds, but they’d added a type of joy to my life I never knew existed.
I’d been learning so much* and they were so darn adorable! We’d been taking our time naming them as they started looking and acting in ways that allowed us to tell them apart. Besides Brandy, we’d had Melanie, Pearl, and Sweet Pea named so far. I was super sad for the one remaining (as yet unnamed) chick, who’d lost her entire family in the most traumatic way.
Time to Regroup and Consider…
The gate to the pen has been chained shut, top and bottom, and the electric fence I ordered will be here any day. (Thank you, Amazon Prime.) Yesterday when I got home from work, Joseph had some surprises waiting for me – four tiny, newly hatched Marans chicks and two, three-week-old Light Sussex/Barnevelder crosses. We absolutely could not let our only surviving chicken remain alone. The tiny babies are safely living in a large tank with a heat lamp until they grow some feathers. The bigger chicks are spending a few days closed in one coop so they’ll be near, but separate, from the lonely chicken. This way they can become acquainted before living together as a group.
Funny how life can turn you in a direction you never saw coming! I’m still quite a bit sad about the hens we lost and I still don’t know much about raising chickens. But I’m going to do everything in my power to protect and provide for this new flock. Life (and Joseph) put me on this path and while I’m certainly surprised to find myself here, I’m not turning back now.
Still here? Thanks for sticking with me! Know anything about chickens? Any helpful tips and suggestions you have are welcome! All of our feathered friends are of egg-laying varieties.
*I’d like to give a giant shout-out to the two best resources I’ve found so far. The Chicken Keeping 101 Facebook group and Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens. Both the group and the book have helped me understand that it’s not just us – keeping chickens safe and healthy can be challenging! Wish us luck…we’re gonna need it.