Sunday, August 26, 2007

The chickens and their new home.

On the advice of Don at American Livestock Breeds Conservancy I was able to contact Steven Moize, who breeds the rare buckeye chickens. Scant minutes after I (sort of) finished the henhouse, I jumped in the car and raced up to Hurdle Mills.

Steven is farming land which has been in his family for 220 years, but he himself was raised in the suburbs, because his parents had fled the farm. The property lay vacant for years until Stephen and his wife decided to move back. They raise turkeys, chickens of various rare breeds, and have donkeys (more on that later).

Here are (I think) the buckeye pullets, my chickens' sisters. He put my three pullets in the cardboard box I brought and I carried them home.

I had to stop on the way to buy some rebar to build a fence - I'd thought they would just "free-range" during the day, but he said they'd need a few weeks to get their bearings and know where to come home to roost at night, so I cut up some of my leftover deerfence and made them a little paddock.

Then my friend Mitzi and I got a couple chairs and some cool drinks and opened the box.

It was clear there was a hierarchy already. One hen importantly stuck her head out of the box immediately to scout out the surroundings. One was not far behind; the third, it turns out, was being stood upon by the other two. Long after Captain and Number One had jumped impetuously and gracelessly over the edge, the stood-upon bird was still hesitant to emerge.

It was a brutally hot day and the chickens instantly realized the best place for them was under their house.
Two of them spent most of the afternoon perched on the edge of their water pot, periodically dipping their breast feathers into this improvised wading pool. The third got to sit on the adjacent paint can. Same view, but less water.

I was concerned it would be hard to catch them when it was time to put them in the house (at night chickens, aka Everybody's Favorite Meal, are stupefied in sleep and easy prey for raccoons and other marauders). However, I found them huddled together on one of our chairs and they were happy to be picked up one by one and plopped into the house. Next morning I took the following pictures of them exploring (if you could call it that). Now I realize I sound like one of those excruciatingly dull grandmothers whose pictures you flee from when they get hauled out, so I'll stop. For now.



At 9:45 PM, Blogger Hannah said...

Hee, they're so cute! What a huge house you made them!

At 6:43 AM, Anonymous susanlynn said...

Ahhh yes...the pecking order. I have never liked chickens and am a little fearful of them . The story goes that my aunt and mother noticed I wasn't in the house one day when I was about 3. The hired man was killing chickens that day , so they rushed outside fearing that I might be traumatized by witnessing the slaughter. Instead, they found me pointing my tiny finger at one particular chicken while announcing, ''Kill that one next, Mike. That's a nasty one.'' I evidently was a pretty pragmatic child. However, I do EAT a lot of chicken. Good luck with your brood, Melinama. You are off on another adventure !...and You'll have FRESH EGGS !!!

At 11:19 AM, Anonymous lin b said...

Not a bit is this dull! I loved reading your accounts of getting their donkey and chicken accommodations ready. Funny. Admirable, the way you make up your mind to do something and do it - mostly yourself.

I hope your fine-looking chickens don't become prey for predators - Rurality blog has told about lots of trouble over the years with her chickens and ducks. Maybe the donkeys will protect them? I've heard that donkeys make pretty good guards, at least as far as running off deer goes. Some of the vineyards around here (Danville VA) have donkeys for that purpose.

At 1:04 PM, Blogger Alma said...

I LOVE the coop! Now I have that John Mellencamp song "Little Pink Houses" running through my head.


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