Five of us left for Hiawatha, Kansas last evening to pick up our newest family members- three 8 month old hens. We were lucky enough to get a sitter for Amelie and Liam, so the rest of us were able to enjoy the adventure together. It was an hour and a half North, but we made a wrong turn, so it turned out to be a longer trip than expected. We skipped dinner, and opted for sandwiches and chips from home on the drive out there. It was all worth it, of course, after meeting and holding our feathered girls.
All day yesterday, from 7:30am until 3:00pm, I worked harder than I have in a very long time getting the chicken house finished, and making sure the gate to the run attached securely (despite not having time to cement the posts). My back, neck and arms are really feeling it today, but I am amazed at how the entire house came together. I built three nesting boxes, which is where they lay their eggs, and I was amazed at how I just happened to have the perfect amount of scrap wood, all in the perfect lengths to get them done quickly. I’m very happy with them. The fencing is a makeshift, temporary one, and I’m not happy with how easily it could get penetrated right now, but we keep the hens locked in their house during the evenings, so they should be okay for the time being. Miraculously, it appears we have another beautiful and warm weekend coming, which means we’ll get the fencing done before the ground freezes up.
I’d never held a chicken before, so when we arrived at the farm I was nervous and eager to hold my first hen. She was sitting in a pet carrier with three other chickens. I reached in, and pulled her out, she squawked a bit and then I cuddled her against me while stroking her feathers. I was surprised at how completely natural it felt holding her, and I couldn’t believe how lightweight she was. Most of all, I was really taken by how completely calm and trusting they are as a species. They have a peace about them and it reminds me of the cows I met at my father in-law’s house years ago; I love it. We’re accustomed to the activity level of children and dogs, so it’s a very balancing energy.
Sorin held Petunia the entire drive and really bonded with her. The other two were in a box, sleeping soundly most of the drive until Marigold decided it was time to relieve herself. We got our first whiff of chicken poo at that time, and we accused Sky of passing gas. The smell subsided quickly, so we didn’t know it was chicken poo until we opened the box– our first look at what will become great fertilizer.
Daniel held Petunia inside the house a while and let our dogs get to know their smells. Our Chihuahua was very interested. She stood on her hind legs and sniffed closely without much fear. We’re seeing heightened curiosity in all three dogs, but no aggression. Daniel put two of the chicks to bed (on the roosting pole) and I later brought out Marigold. I held her a while in the house and couldn’t believe how big she was. I am amazed at how docile they are with us, and that they allow so much handling. They’re very sweet and beautiful creatures. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about their feet, but I couldn’t stop touching them… they’re not scaly, and feel more skin like than I imagined.
They slept like babes last night in their house, and this morning I opened the door early to let the light inside. Jasmine got down off the pole first and started pecking at the food inside, then she ventured out, exploring her new surroundings. As soon as she saw Emily, our elderly Golden Retriever/Border Collie mix, she began a loud clucking. The sound is hilarious, but it stopped quickly. I think she may have been warning the other girls about the ‘beast’ she saw. Now they’re all out pecking together in a flock, and I swear we could watch them for hours. Who’d have thought they could be so entertaining?