Thursday, January 26, 2017

The New Girls

So we got chickens.

My ass is turning so country.  After months and months of wearing Derek down and begging him to please for the love of GOD with two boys and three boy dogs let me have some girls up in this household, he relented.  He even offered to build the coop, but we instead bought one of those smaller pre-made ones off Amazon.  We set it all up and I answered a craigslist ad from a woman selling young Buff Orpingtons that had just begun laying. 

Our flock consists of Fluffy (named by the boys); Chrissy (of Three’s Company fame, the dimmest bulb of the bunch); and Jasmine (who, on her first day here was chased across the entire length of the backyard by our dog Sammy and wedged herself halfway up the interior of our jasmine bush and stayed there, wedged inside the vines).

I’m not really a bird person.  I love my bird feeder and watching the little birdies in my yard take a bath in the bird bath and all.  I love the pair of doves who are always hanging around.  But it wasn’t until I got the chickens home that I realized I was a little scared of them and they were way more scared of me.  Their body language and ways and sounds are foreign to me.  Give me a scared, anxious, untrained pit bull and I know exactly what to do.  But these feathery, pecky, skittish things?  Clueless.  It has been a gradual process of getting to know one another.  But here is what I’ve picked up so far.

1.  Chickens Can Be Bitches, Man. The pecking order of these three has been established already, and it consists of Jasmine at the top and all others beneath her. This, in spite of the fact that she was traumatized on her first day by a scary dog and is the smallest of the three. Here's Jasmine, and she's a Total Bitch:

She gets first dibs on all the food, and if one of the others gets too close while she eats, or dares to eat something she thinks looks good, she will peck them. Hard! On the head! This morning I watched her chase Fluffy up to the roost and back to the run over and over for several minutes before Fluffy finally lay down in front of Jasmine while Jasmine pecked her mercilessly on the head about twenty times. It was like a beat-down. A chicken beat-down. I thought about intervening, worrying that she might peck out poor Fluffy’s eyes or something, but eventually she stopped, let Fluffy back up and Jasmine strutted away, as if to say “That’s right, bitch. You know what you did. You better watch yourself.” And that was that.

2.  They Are Feathery Garbage Disposals. I already knew about the kitchen scraps and it’s true, they eat all those little ends and bits and leftovers and produce about to spoil, etc. But I didn’t know what absolute whores they would be for weeds until I pulled a bunch of dandelions that had sprouted up after all the rain. I dumped a big armful of tall, scraggly monster-weeds into the run and it was like Christmas. They went crazy. By the time I came out two hours later, all the weeds were gone without a trace. I was astounded. How can any creature find weeds to be that delicious? Finally, a good use for weeds!

3.  Their Eggs Kick ASS Over Anything I've Ever Bought At the Store. Actually I already knew this from buying eggs from the farmers’ market guy. And though it’s winter when they're not supposed to lay, there have been a few eggs a week, and two in one day yesterday.

And now I actually get to control everything that’s going into those eggs. It’s a great feeling. Because, you know, you are what you eat, ate. The shells are hard and sturdy. The yolks are neon orange. The taste is sublime. I don’t think I can go back to store-bought eggs ever again.

4.  They Are Addictive. I’m already making plans to get some chicks in the spring so I can raise them myself. I want them to be more tame and comfortable around people, and these girls were raised out in the middle of nowhere and were apparently chased by people. They’ve had to get used to the sounds of kids, cars, sirens, airplanes overhead, the train a few blocks down, the noise of the guy re-doing his driveway next door, etc. They were not held by human hands and nurtured as babies, and I want to have that experience and share it with the kids. It’s taking a lot of patience, getting these girls to understand that I am their friend, but they are slowly coming around. I think they know on some level that I love them. I talk to them like they’re babies. I give them grapes. I sing to them a song I used to sing to my pug Babe when she was little, and it’s kind of perfect for them. “Girl… you’ll be a woman soon….”

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