My curiosity about chickens began when my friend (and Two-Lane Livin’ columnist) Sue showed me her chicken tractors. See, I didn’t know you could have chickens without the chicken house. A chicken tractor moves around the yard, and (most) remove any requirement for shoveling poop three seasons out of the year.
At one time, Sue had several chicken tractors, but had downsized during a move to two. One day, she asked if I would be interested in taking one of her larger tractors home with me.
That really set the ball rolling.
I told Frank I wanted to go to the livestock sale that Friday. He bucked a little. Seems, here in the country, like cats and dogs, chickens just happen. There’s always someone with extra or one or two they don’t want. Turns out, someone in our community was working to get rid of about 100.
Frank agreed that I could have four.
We went over so I could see what they had…
What they had was about 150 chickens of all breeds and types, mixed and non-mixed. I had no idea what the breeds were, or what I wanted.
“I want brown eggs.” I said.
Now, Sue can reach over and pick up her hens with no problem. She raised them. They know, like and trust her.
But the chickens on the farm we visited we free and independent. We left two pet porters and said we’d be back at dusk.
So, when we went and got the hens, it was dark, and I didn’t see them. Not until the next morning.
Chickens, if not pampered and cared for, stink. So, I immediately (with Sue’s advice) brought my hens back to optimum health.
The first to be named was Pepper. The four hens, as hens do, established a new pecking order among the newly formed flock. She was the loser. Interestingly enough, she also is the most tame. We ‘talk’ to each other, and she will eat out of my hand, although she won’t let me reach out and touch her — yet.
The next one named is the head of the pecking order. Miss Ellembee. Now, I realize that it’s a strange name, but actually it comes from the initial’s of what I first called her – Little Miss B@#$* – L.M.B. See, Ellembee doesn’t like to share, and she complains a lot. Whenever another hen uses the nesting basket to lay an egg, she complains. Whenever someone she doesn’t know comes around, she complains. Whenever another hen tries to each or bathe next to her, she pecks them. Believe me, she has earned her name.
Dee Dee was next to earn her name. In fact, her full name is Miss Dirty Dancer Prancer. (I know, another weird one.) But, I think Dee Dee is a weird chicken. First off, as I previously mentioned, the hens arrived with a smell. Dee Dee was the worst of them all, and turns out, even when I supplied them with daily access to a DE & Dirt bath (chickens bathe in dirt), Dee Dee wouldn’t bathe.
In addition, when I began letting them free range in the evenings, Dee Dee showed her tendencies to dance and prance and jump around as though some invisible spook was behind her, goosing her. So, she was dirty, and prone to dance and prance.
In all, it was about five weeks before I finally saw her bathe herself. I think the other three hens were as thrilled to see it as I.
The final of the four is Red, and I have yet to get a picture of her in focus to share with you. She’s basically a rusty brown hen, who, never earning a name by her character, was named for her coloring by default.
We’ve been getting about three eggs a day pretty consistently out of our four hens, eggs that most often go to my Mother and Aunt in the city who remember the taste of, but have little access to, farm fresh eggs. Frank and I eat eggs on a regular basis now, many of them pickled.
Feed costs me about $10 a month – much cheaper than a single dog or cat would in that amount of time.
So, there you go. Now you’ve met my ladies. I’ll see if I can get Red to be still long enough to get a focused picture, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.
I suppose, knowing that I will be posting pictures from my gardens all season long, I should give a “before” picture or two.
This is the vegetable garden, doubled in length this year, so half the fence isn’t up yet. At this point, the ground has been disked, but not tilled.
This is my “Columbine Bed.”Â The Columbine I dug from the woods are starting to bloom, but the store-bought ones aren’t even close. The day lilies will bloom about the time the other columbine come out. Also, in this garden, but not shown here are: Bearded Iris, Hibiscus, Spirea, Coneflower and Lavender.
The plow is one of the original horse plows on the farm. The bird bath came from my mother’s house last year when she moved to her condo, and the archway is from our wedding — eight years ago this month. (I just got it back of of the box last year.)
What I like is that this garden is less than six years old. And I almost have it planted now so that it has something blooming in it all season long. I’ll be posting pictures from this bed often throughout the season.
Of course, no photo tours or presentations would be complete without current pictures of Miss Daisy.
I’m bored. I think I’ll do something.
I have this new toy that mom got me…
Mom looks like she’ll wanna play too.
After all that playing and roughousing with Mom, I’m tired!