18 Jun

When we moved here there were no chickens.  As far as my family was concerned that was just fine with them.   Is it really “a farm” if there are no chickens, I think not.  To fully appreciate the farm experience you have to have a flock of chickens running around.  It’s just the way things are.  It took me the better part of a year to convince the hubby that we could, in fact, have chickens without it being a major pain in his backside.  During that 12 months I was having a conversation with a new neighbor down the road when the subject of chickens came up.  Being the good neighbor that I am, I wanted to make sure that having a flock in the area was not going to be a problem for anyone.  Heather, the new neighbor, was all a gaga over this information.  She had been raised on a farm and had loved the flock of hens they had growing up.  Our conversation turned to city ordinances and proper housing for a small flock of hens.  I left satisfied that she would not be complaining about our having chickens and didn’t think another thing about our conversation.

Months later 15 day old chicks arrived in the mail and I got wrapped up in my new charges.  The one plastic bin brooder I made soon turned into 2, then 3 and finally 4 as the chicks grew.  Move out day finally came and our little flock was put in their brand new chicken coop with a nice spacious run.  Life on the farm was great!  As silly as it sounds nothing pleased me more than to watch the chickens run around chasing a bug.

One day my husband comes in from work and says one of my chickens is loose.  There are feral cats across the street so I race outside to catch my escape artist hen and put her back where she belongs before she is kit kat dinner.  Now my hens are Dominique, which means they are black and white sort of striped looking.  I get outside and low and behold there is a “red” chicken in the yard.  Sometimes I wonder if I stripped down naked and ran screaming through the pasture would the man even notice.  I walk up to this chicken real careful like and it just sqwats down for me to pet it.  About that time I notice another red hen and a Dominique.  I quickly remember my conversation with Heather months before and figure these must be her hens.  Sure enough I walk on over to her house and there in the backyard is this teenie tiny fenced in area about 3 foot square with a crate full of hay for a nest.  I knock on the door to let her know her hens have flown the coop and have wandered way down to my house.  Heather tells me she started out with 9 baby chicks, three are left and she thinks the rest are all out in the woods.  As nicely as I can, I let her know that I suspect the other 6 have gone to chicky heaven and that if the cats didn’t get them the racoons surely did.  I offer her some chicken wire to enlarge her pen and put a top on so the girls can’t get out, my work here is done so I leave.

For the next several months “Heather’s hens” made daily visits to our yard.  They had the same routine every day, hop down out of the tree in front of Heather’s house early in the morning, make the rounds of the house, venture on over to the business across the street to sit on the window sills and watch the people work, cross the street “again” to peck around the east side of our property, followed by the south and west.  At this point Heather’s little flock of hens and our flock of hens would have great conversations through the fence.  Once they got bored with that, across the back of our yard and off to Heather’s house they went.

Now I fully admit that I completely enjoyed watching Heather’s hens in “my” backyard.  On more days than one when I was outside feeding our girls Heather’s hens would make a B-line for our backyard, so I started throwing out a little scratch when I noticed them come to visit.  I also noticed the big giant orange male cat that would wander over here from the business across the street.  Every now and then I would stroll on over to Heather’s house on some pretense or another so that I could warn her about the cat and to again offer some “free” chicken wire.  About the third trip over there I began to get annoyed.  I met Heather (in a way) on the day her childrens chihuahua got hit by a car because it was running around in the street.  Now you would think that after this little incident Heather would have learned a valuable lesson here, alas I have since learned (from her husband) that Heather is one of those people that believe animals should be free to do their own thing.  Wish I had known that a long time ago.

One Saturday I get up early to run some errands and do a little shopping in the next town over at Wally World.  When I get home my husband informs me that “one of Heather’s chickens was attacked by that orange cat in our yard”.  Well that’s just great, where is the chicken, I ask.  I have no idea I was too busy chasing off the cat, by the time I looked around it was gone, I have too many things to do to look for somebody else’s chicken, he replies.  Well you know I didn’t have anything else to do that day(insert sarcasm) so I went off in search of one wounded hen.  An hour and a half later I found her cowering way back in the bushes.  By this time I am calculating that this poor chicken was attacked some 3 to 4 hours ago, her comb is as pale as all get out and she is panting.  And yes, I am cussing Heather out in my head!  I manage to get the hen out and look her over.  She has at least 4 different areas of puncture marks (all still oozing blood), and there is absolutely not one feather left on her rear end, plus some of the skin is missing!  We clean her up, put her in a crate and offer her some water with electrolytes and vitamins.  She drinks like there is no tomorrow.  Eventually I have to tell Heather; I am secretly hoping she decides she has no means of caring for this hen and just lets me have her; but NO she rushes over to collect her “poor baby” and takes her home.  Again I offer FREE chicken wire!

Several weeks later I look out the back window and there are Heather’s hens, all three of them.  Number one I can’t believe the hen survived and number two I can’t believe they are again running loose.  Some people never learn!  I would like for you to meet Georgia.  A wonderful little hen I mysteriously found wandering around our backyard.  Poor thing has the strangest tail feathers all cocked to one side, like maybe some of them are missing or perhaps grew in crooked or something.  If only she could talk and tell us what happened to her.  It was very easy to catch her, sweet thing that she is, I just took out some scratch and she ate right from my hand.  Fits in real well with our hens like she’s known them for a long time.  We have had her for about a year now, she lays one egg about every 2-3 days.  This spring she decided to set some eggs and successfully hatched 6 out of 11.  At the moment she is not especially happy with me as I removed her and the nest into a temporary pen prior to hatch day.  We are in the process of relocating and enlarging our chicken coop/run so she and the babies will stay here until that is complete.  Then we will freak everyone out and relocate the whole bunch of them at one time, should be barrels of fun.

As for Heather’s two red hens, I’m not exactly sure what happened to them, but one day while I was walking to the pond I found a bunch of red feathers here and there, so I have a pretty good idea.

2 Responses to “Georgia”

  1. chickensinthegarden November 4, 2012 at 7:32 am #

    LOL, more people should have chickens, they’re so darn funny to watch!

  2. sleepinghorse November 2, 2012 at 4:35 am #

    I had a hen turn up at my house as well. That was Hannah Hen and I love that she started me off on my new chicken passion. How could I have lived so long without them!

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