First there was one chicken, Ducky. She was given to us by a friend who’s chickens were pecking poor Ducky to bits while she molted and recovered from a possum bite. The life of a chicken isn’t kind, my friends. She came back to good health over the holidays and is back up to fluffy and fussy behavior more befitting a hen. But she seemed lonely, as much as you can gauge having never owned a chicken and not being able to tell what goes on in their very small and not very functional brains. Ducky is an Americauna, so we got two more of those from a farm out in the country that also had staring alpacas, some very chummy goats, nervous frilly emus, and a lot of different chickens. And oh, what chickens! I’ve never seen such beautiful birds in variety and temperment. Child Harbat picked out two nice hens and we got them into a cardboard box after a brief escape by one which required the owner to call out his family of six to corral the skittish bird into the garage where she was picked up and put back into the box with her friend.
How did the chickens get along? Let’s let Ducky tell you her thoughts when we first brought in the intruder hens.
She finally calmed down and, in a terrific story for the underdog, took the Top Hen position. She gets to eat first, can chase the others off from scratch, and gets the prime spot in the roost. Oh Ducky, how the mighty have risen! Our two new hens were first named Chicky and Blacky by CH but we settled on the slightly less confusing and more creative names of Claire and Minerva. Whatever, they run away when I go to feed them every morning whether or not I call them by name.
There were some exciting moments when Claire escaped the sideyard by flying over a five-foot fence, clearing a six-foot bush, and taking up residence in an Indian hawhtorne bush with a network of dried branches as tight as uncooked ramen noodles. I had to crawl into it like a maggot into carrion, extract the scared bird, and return her to the coop. But the good news is that now I know how to catch and pick up chickens, something that puts me in the rare club of four-year old girls in 4H. Here are Ducky and Claire trying to act coy behind a bush.
Here’s the important question, the one that drives all curious chicken owners: how many beautiful blue Americauna eggs have we gotten? None. Not one. I got them some tasty organic feed and scratch grains, they have fresh water and greens from our garden, and a variety of leftovers. Molting is done, the days are getting longer, and the weather is SoCal warm. Since our neighbors might not appreciate a rooster, it looks like I need to get my girls in the laying mood by putting on a crop and some fluffy knicker and doing the chicken dance out by the coop. Buk-kwahk!