Wednesday, June 10, 2009

For the love of chickens

Let me introduce you to one of our favorite chickens. We've nicknamed him "Obrahma" in honor of our new president and because of his breed, which is a Brahma. John wittily referred to him as a "chicken he could believe in!" We just love him because he is absolutely beautiful, is very inquisitive and brave and because he looks like a big muppet when he runs across the grass. We are also confidently calling him a "he" because he is so much bigger than the other two chickens that also appear to be Brahmas and because he likes to pick pecking order fights with the other roosters (there seem to be more of those roosters than I imagined we would have but that's another story). When he gets into one of these tussles, his hackle feathers (those black ones on the back of his neck) stick straight up and he starts doing this "You talkin' to me?" kind of pose as he circles around the other rooster. He is most definitely our biggest chicken but he is also the most striking. Everyone that meets him says he is beautiful. We'll be keeping him.

The chickens' personalities are slowly emerging. The black ones, which seem to be primarily Australorps, love to explore. You can see one of them here, perched on a woodpile, alongside one of our unknown breeds. They love this woodpile and you will find four to five chickens on it constantly throughout the day. It must be teeming with all kinds of bugs and such and so it is naturally attractive to them.
That has been the funnest part of actually letting the chickens out of the brooder, into their coop, and out onto the "range" each day. They love to be outside and they explore endlessly. Sure, they stop and take naps from time to time, but inevitably, they hop up and begin scratching and searching for bugs, worms, grit and anything else that suits their fancy. We are presently letting them truly free range now but we have our electric fence ordered. Once that arrives, we will reposition their coop to the side of the barn and we will put up the fence as perimeter protection. They will have a pretty large section of land to range on but they will then be protected from our area's marauding cats and the fox family that lurks in the nearby culvert. Plus, it will relocate them AWAY from our garden, which they are happily ranging on daily, much to our dismay. We didn't exactly think that one through and we spend a lot of time running them out of there. In fact, this morning, I stopped Aidan as he was walking out the back door, armed with his sword and scabbard and asked him what he was up to. "I'm going to get the chickens out of the garden!" Don't worry, no chickens were harmed in the process. He was just trying to show them he meant business!

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