Such sweet and charming girls my chickens are. Each with their own personality; the escape artist, the hawk, little red, broody, and we mustn’t forget our little bantam rooster amongst a flock of big girls, Napoleon. They kindly share their varied and often humorous eggs with me, eat the nasty bugs, weed our gardens an fertilize the lawn. I was nearly appalled to witness the savagery they were instinctually capable of. I keep many logs and boards in their chicken yard for a couple of reasons. They like to perch on them and bugs love to gather in them and especially under them. So I periodically flip them around to expose the bugs and it’s a riotous clucking feeding frenzy. Well, I did just that recently and exposed a little field mouse with four or five little sucklings attached to her belly. Before I had the chance to register what I saw the mayhem broke loose. Mamma mouse frantically runs for cover, being pulled this way and that as the savage beasts I call my sweet girls were ripping the sucklings from her teats. A cacophony of clucking and squawking mingled with tiny little squeals of terror overwhelmed the chicken yard. The girls were running chaotically about attacking one another to get at the tasty little morsels. As I said, I was nearly appalled. It was a a grotesque moment of natures beauty and sickened as I was for the mice, I was equally mesmerized by the raw brutality of survival instincts in action. I stealthily slipped out of the yard and let my sweet girls sort this one out without the interference of stupid human emotions.
Just a quick mash-up of life on River Road. One of our girls passed on over the weekend. She was a buff orpington. One of a set of twins. No reason that we could see. She had a sluggish couple of days where she bunched herself up into a tight fluffy ball and sat in the corner of the yard. A good sign she was sick. She kept fooling me though by perking back up, stretching her neck out and bobbing around for bugs. I checked her out and could find nothing. It was a quick passing as chickens go. Two days, then she lay down in the corner and poof. That yew in the corner of our yard (ie. the chicken cemetery) is freakishly larger than all the rest.
Remember my recent posting Twenty Years and Still Farting? Well I’m sorry to say that the house has been painfully silent as of late. No, my spouse did not leave me, but she decided to try a wheat free diet. Fart free diet is more like it. Oddly enough, I have to admit I miss the midnight giggles from her rising bubbles as she turned over.
Spine? A natural progression from my most recent felted piece the pelvis. I have begun to felt a spine. This one is a mind bender. Turns out each vertebrae is different from the other. This is going to be a long-term project for sure. Here are the first three cervical vertebrae:
Lastly, I come to the subject of puppy love. My partner and son have been conspiring to get a second dog for over a year now and I have fully protested. I like my peaceful home which is challenging enough with a cranky pms partner, barking dog, puking old cat and a son who lives life bigger than broadway! They ignored me. For his tenth birthday my son got a puppy. He wanted a small dog he could hold. Great! A little shaky, yippy thing that like to sneak attack. Well, we found a mini long-haired dachshund mix at the shelter. 4 months old. Jo-Jo is his name, which we all agree is unfortunate but we make do with nicknames, joe, joey, joseph, goat(he eats anything). He has charmed his way deep into my heart. He is calm, smart, attentive, easy to house train, and totally dedicated to my son. This ten-year old boy has about faced when it comes to responsibility and accountability. The clincher and heart melter for me was when my son stopped me after saying goodnight and said: “You know how fun it is for you to get into bed with mama and snuggle while you fall asleep?” Withholding my sarcastic comments I said “Yeah”. “Well,” he said “now I get to snuggle with Jo-Jo at night and I’m not lonely anymore. I love going to bed now.” My knees just about buckled. Here he is helping me with laundry:
Poor girls are cold! They are not big fans of the snow, this bunch. Normally, I open the coop door and a loud commotion ensues, all wanting to be the first to run off into the green grasses. But with these first few snow falls(which came very late this year) one, maybe two heads poke out to check the status of that nasty white stuff. Then it’s a very dainty promenade from their coop to my doorstep. If they had hands they would be hiking up their skirts, and bonnets or parasols would be a must. The last one out is our very own little Napoleon. He’s a little bantam boy. The only bantam amongst a dozen big girls. We ordered six bantams this year and all were roosters! That is far too much attitude and the girls were exhausted from all the harassment. So our kind friends who had a couple hundred hens and but one very busy bloke agreed to take the remaining five. Plenty of fish in that sea! Turns out that one of the adopted roosters fancied himself an ass and spends his days on the shoulders their donkey. But back to Napoleon. He is certainly a little cock with a big attitude. However, it is all attitude. As I said before, he is the last one out of the coop in any foul weather and only after all the girls are well on their way, to which he finds himself alone. This he does not like. He tip-toes down the ramp and when he reached the snowy edge he squawks and ruffles his feather as if mustering up some courage. Then he leaps and flaps, half flying, half running, like a puddle jumper, trying his best to avoid touching that nasty wet stuff until he catches up to the girls. Once back with his harem, he fluffs himself up big, belts out a song and side steps his way to the girls attempting a covert mount. I have yet to see him succeed. They are much bigger and as a group seem to have made a pact with one another to keep the little guy in his place. I am convinced the girls devise many a conspiratorial ruse just to ruffle his tenuous role as master of the coop. I have observed the group running to a freshly scattered patch of scratch, little Napoleon of course the last to know and the last to arrive. As they cluck and buck contentedly the girls have been witnessed slowly migrating away from the scratch, around the corner and out os sight of poor Napoleon. When he comes up from his eager pecking and finds himself alone, panic ensues. He paces in circles, bobbing his head this way and that as he calls out to the girls a sad whimper. “Cock-a-doodle-doo?” I can only imagine them around the corner of the barn giggling!
I did not think when we started chickens five years ago that they would be so entertaining nor become such a part of our family. Their personalities are undeniable. They have been the inspiration for much creativity from holiday cards, painting, home movies(we had one rooster named marble who crowed on command), and even my son has begun writing a cartoon series about them in the style of Spy vs. Spy. He calls it Chicken Vs. Chicken in which two enemy chickens are continually planting bombs in one another’s nests, eggs, etc. Not to mention that free range, organically raised fresh eggs from the back yard are not to be beat!