It’s been a little over a year since we went to the “Chicken Swap” in our small rural community. Honestly, we just went to meet a friend and see the animals. To me it was just a novelty in our town. We already had 4 dogs. We didn’t need another animal. On this day, we met a little boy who said, “Hey Lady, have you ever held a chicken?” Next thing I know I was holding a rooster. Bill, my husband was holding a hen. Interestingly enough, we were given the crate to borrow for a few weeks. How generous they were, I thought. The farmers there offered their advice as we walked to our truck, like “don’t name them” or if you do name them, call them “Fried” and “Baked”. They laughed and we just smiled. In the end, we named them “Thurston” and “Lovey”. Lovey wasn’t really all that loveable and Thurston just wanted to be held.
We stopped at the local store to pick up lunch. I felt guilty as I sat in the front seat with a box of fried chicken. I asked Bill if he thought they could tell I was holding their cousins in my lap. We laughed but we had pasta for dinner that night. Don’t get me wrong, I still love fried chicken. Love it!
We went back to the store to buy a little chicken coop. It was perfect for 4 to 6 chickens. We had 2 so it was larger than we even needed. Right? I was surprised at how they just went upstairs on their own at dusk. This was going to be a piece of cake! That is, until they started roosting in the tree. They flew up there. I didn’t know that chickens could fly. (They do!) We spent so much time coaxing them out of the tree every night to get them in the coop.
My little Thurston didn’t crow. I wanted for him to cock-a-doodle-do! I mean, what was the point of having a rooster, if you don’t get a wake-up rooster? We were told to get more hens or Thurston would end up hurting Lovey. We added 5 more hens. We expanded the coop. They all went up in the tree and they would fly away, but they always returned at night. I was looking at chicken websites to find out what to do, what their sounds meant, what do they like for treats, what to do in the hot weather, and what to do with them in cold weather. OK, it’s confession time. I even took Thurston to the Vet to see why he wasn’t crowing. He had a little upper respiratory infection. Oh, and the chickens sneeze…and it’s kind of cute, really. I put a little antibiotic powder in their water. (I didn’t tell Bill that I took Thurston for a ride in the car. He would have lost his mind. Hi Honey, if you’re reading this!!) And voile, he started crowing! (Thurston crowed…not Bill!) I like to think I helped him with the learning process because I would practice with him in the backyard. Yes…I did. (It’s only occasionally that I mind his dedication to the morning. My dogs respond when “the alarm” sounds, so that is the annoying part.)
I cleaned the pen area every day. They had clean water and I loved sitting out there with them. Thurston had a “moment”, occasionally, where he would charge me. Why would this rooster charge me when I was taking such good care of him? I gave him food. I gave him fresh water every day. I even piled the leaves for him. He loved that…to get on top of the leaves and pretend he was in charge. I found that having the rake between me and him along with having eyes in the back of my head, truly helped. I never touched him with “Rake”, but he didn’t love Rake. I thought we had finally come to an understanding and I no longer would have to hold Rake. One particular day when I was collecting the eggs , Thurston came after me! Rake didn’t accompany that afternoon. I found myself crawling across the ground because my leg hurt. It felt as if I had blood running down my leg, as well. Owah…this hurt! Thurston walked up beside me all puffed up like, “hahahaha…take THAT!” When I finally got in the house I realized that I had pocketed my cell phone . THAT’s what that pain was. Even more painful was the fact that I had the eggs in the same pocket as the cell phone. Soooo, let’s just say that I ended up getting a new phone. The supposed blood that I felt dripping on my leg was indeed cracked eggs in my pocket. And, rice doesn’t help “dry” the phone. Rice is good with eggs if you’re going to make fried rice. That’s pretty much the only time you want to mix rice and eggs.
Having chickens…25 of them later is not a piece of cake, but now they have a 12’ x 12’ chicken coop with an enclosed area along with an area that is not enclosed. 12 of those 25 were little chicks that I got in the spring. I had them in my husband’s bathroom tub. They were adorable as they crawled all over me each morning. My hubby didn’t appreciate the loss of his private bathroom but he found himself going in there to visit them, as well. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago we lost 4 of our 3 month old chicks to a fox, who was apparently watching the hen house. It broke my heart. We have since reinforced the coop and we haven’t lost any of the others. So, we have 19 chickens and I think I’m good with that number for now. This was not as easy as they said, but oh, I’m so glad to have them.
I value having these beautiful birds. I love every moment and every lesson that I’ve learned. They also remind me of the following verses. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious about being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field; how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all of his glory was not arrayed like one of these…”