Chicken watch #1
I am the entertained owner of three Buckeye pullets (young hens who don't yet lay eggs).
I was worrying they were starving to death - or about to die from heat stroke or lack of water - in our current horrendous drought. (The grass crackles when I walk on it. I don't think it's rained since Hannah and I got back from Bulgaria August 15...) but reassuringly, they've bulked up considerably since they got here.
They don't really like their coop, although they hop into its henhouse at dusk every night to go to sleep. (Sometimes they sleep in a pile - the same one is always on the bottom, getting stood on by the other two.)
I think they don't like it because it's out in the open and they're afraid of hawks. "They always have one eye on the sky," explains my friend Judy, a chicken owner.
Also, they've had a visitor every night, who turns the water black in their wading pool and once disassembled their feeder (it looks like this picture) when I forgot to take it in the house. The wing nut had been removed and the feeder, unharmed, dragged into the woods. That's got to be the mighty aracunum (my ex father-in-law said that was a Native American name for raccoon). The place must reek of predator.
So, since they can go where they please after I let them out in the morning, they've adopted the space under the house and the adjoining bushes they hang out there all day looking for bugs and chuckling to themselves.
Every time I come near, they speak out loudly, jump out of their hiding place, and follow me around. They went on a walk with me and my friend Mitzi recently. When I leave they run back under the house.
The most excited I've seen them yet was yesterday morning: one of them scored a huge black slug. It hung, heavy and flopping, out of chicken's beak as she ran round and round trying to avoid her two friends (each determined to steal the slug). When she put it down to try and get a bite, one of them lunged in and sliced off half. Then those two ran around with half slugs hanging out of their mouths, the third bird following.
Since they eat and drink most happily when I'm with them, I've taken to hanging out in the coop at meal times. And, as I predicted when I told my son I didn't want a pet because I'd start talking to it - I talk to them. It's an inexorable slide into extreme eccentricity.