As many of you may know, Tom and I have become quite the chicken fans. Every spring we get baby chicks. We nurture them until they are old enough to move into the main coop with the older hens. This can involve crazy things we never thought we would do, like loading Tom up in the early evening with 8 young chickens and taking them to the coop.
This is because the older hens tend to pick on the new ones. They will peck their heads and bully them. But, if you wait until evening, chickens sort of “shut off.” They actually go into a dormant state. These creatures that can fly, run and twist making it impossible to touch them during the day, will allow you to pet them, pick them up and even carry them around like some kind of a chicken tree transport system.
I tell you this because I want you to fully understand how hard it is to get chickens to be nice to each other and come together as a flock. Once the social system is established, however, a flock of chickens will glide along as one grazing, pecking unit intent on finding the juiciest worms, or begging incessantly to be fed by their owners. But, there is a pecking order. There are societal rules. Only the alpha girls make it to the top roosting stick.
So as you may know from my previous blog post, we are down to one chicken. This created a bit of a dilemma. If I were to try to introduce some new hens, it could be disastrous. I kept envisioning my poor sweet survivor as a bloody headed, henpecked calamity.
In case you didn’t know, all of those chicken idioms are true. “Henpecked”, “pecking order”, “rule the roost”, “feather’s flying”, “the sky is falling”, “birds of a feather flock together”, all describe chicken anxiety. So, we just had to find another way.
Her loneliness and desire to find her flock was evident by her willingness to hang out with me and Tom on our porch at all hours of the day. This would have been fine, except for the poop. In case you didn’t know, chickens poop a lot. And it is nasty and hard to clean off of your porch. So, our being her flock was not a good solution.
And poor Dandy, our dog was very confused. We had trained her to keep the chickens off the porch for the reasons mentioned above. She found great joy in jumping up, scaring off the hens and making them fly off our porch. Now she was being denied this small joy and working hard on being calm when the chicken was around.
So I looked at “sweet chicken” as I was beginning to call her and said, “Ok darling, we are going to have to just pray up a mate for you.” And we sat down together and did just that. We put it out to God and all the chicken angels out there that she needed a mate.
Well, lo and behold, I went to my community exercise class the next week and there was a woman announcing that a rooster had taken up in her woods. She already had roosters so she could not take this one into her flock. She wanted to know if anyone would like to help her catch and relocate this rooster.
Well, of course, I said I would. How could I deny such fate?
So the next Sat. I got the phone call and off I went to capture this rooster. Now, you may not know this, but there are over 500 breeds of chickens. Imagine my surprise when he turned out to be of the same breed. Well, of course, he did.
I had no idea what was going to happen that evening after transporting him across the community in a cage. But, he was calm and content as I put him, cage and all in the coop. My “sweet chicken” who was on the top roost, slowly came down to check him out. She walked around the cage a couple of times and looked up to me as if to say, “well aren’t you going to let him out?” So, I opened the door and released him. He stepped out of his cage in a regal manner and calmly greeted her. Then he hopped up on the top perch, she hopped up and they went to sleep.
I awoke at dawn and went to the coop to let them out. I did not want any cooped up emotions causing the feathers to fly. My fears were unfounded as they emerged a sweet chicken couple. They strutted and strolled all around the farm, like a southern debutante and her new beau at a formal cotillion. They cawed and cooed all the while exploring all the morning tasty morsels. She showed him all of her favorite places and then brought him up to the porch to beg for breakfast.
They cooed and cawed in sweet, loving chicken language as she showed him all of her favorite hiding places, under the rhododendron bushes,( I am not sure what went on under there), in the forest behind the house, under the porch, around the compost bins where the juiciest worms reside and, of course, the chicken day palace, where Tom and I often leave treats for them.
When evening arrived, he crowed a few times and they went to the coop, hopped up on the top perch together and went to bed. This was pure chicken romance.
So here is where you come in. I need a sweet couple’s name. And, no, Romeo and Juliet are just too tragic. Let me know what comes to mind. Name this couple!