Now, About Those Chickens….Posted: June 12, 2014
It is shameful that I wrote about our little chicken friends nearly a year ago after their arrival and have had zero follow-up since. What a terrible chicken mamma I am!
So it’s high time I tell you a little more about the birdies.
First of all, they survived one of the most God-awful winters known to the entire state of Minnesota, poor babies. Of course, our first cold season with them would turn out to be so immensely wretched. They avoided snow like the plague, so didn’t come out of their coop and run for about five months. I know they weren’t too happy, but they did just fine.
My dad helped to engineer a heat lamp using a 150-watt lightbulb covered with a clay pot to serve as a source of warmth inside their coop. Here they are, basking in the glow:
I would often see them huddled up around the pot too, I’m sure that must have felt sooooo good to their little bodies. They are THRILLED that summer [unofficially] is here and they have the run of the yard again. And that it’s above 12 degrees.
Second, we’ve learned so much about chickens, and each of them has such a distinct personality. It’s been fun getting to know them – as much as you can know a chicken, I guess!
DT and I consider Gertrude to be kind of like the older, protective sister. She’s the first one out of the coop when we open the door each morning, and the first to check out any kind of food situation. She’s also very observant and watchful when they are all out in the yard for any looming creatures, whether it’s a hawk soaring high above, a smaller bird swooping through, or a squirrel skittering about.
We think Deborah is certifiably nuts. She’s just a little bit off her rocker, but that only adds to her character. She had a couple of broody bouts last summer where she just sat and sat and sat and sat and sat in the nesting box, waiting to lay an egg (or sit on one[s] that had already been laid). DT would don gloves, pull her out of the box (never without a few pecks), and bring her into the backyard to try and “reset” her little brain. It took some time, but eventually the broodiness broke and she’d come running out with the other two.
Priscilla is a little squawker. I love talking to her, she’s so chatty and responsive. We’ve discovered she is the calmest and most docile of the three. They all love to sunbathe, but Priscilla is usually the first to plop down, close her eyes, and soak up the rays – and isn’t in any hurry to move. She looks like a little turkey. We have been thankful for her mild nature as we treat a case of leg mites. Yes, leg mites. We are treating our chicken for leg mites. Picture this scene: DT chases after Priscilla, grabs and holds her (she’s noisy but mostly agreeable), while I apply a petroleum jelly-coated paper towel (cocoa butter-scented, just to further paint the picture) to her legs.
Urban life with chickens, man.
Third, oh how they love FOOD. They eat and eat and eat! Bottomless pits, and they aren’t particularly picky. Some of their absolute favorite foods: saltines, seeds and ribs from bell peppers, watermelon, corn on the cob, strawberry tops, apples, scrambled eggs (Cannibalism? Hmm), bread crusts with peanut butter, grilled cheese, bacon (Uh – is that wrong? Piggy farm friends?), pizza crusts, waffles….the list goes on and on. And yes, ice cream! Girls after my own heart.
Lastly, watching chickens run is pretty much the funniest thing I have ever seen in my entire life. As I said to DT last weekend, chickens running will never not be funny. If one of the girls takes off, the other two quickly notice and break into a lumbering, tipsy tear across the yard. It’s hilarious. They definitely travel in a pack. They groom themselves obsessively, poop constantly (and without any shame or self awareness), and find enormous pleasure in rolling around in the dirt.
Regarding egg production….people always ask how many eggs we get each day. Our answer varies, but we can safely say on average, two daily. At least one, maybe even three. They continued to lay throughout the miserable winter, but the eggs would often freeze and crack, so we had to throw many of them out. There were a few dry spells where it was simply too cold and not enough daylight to produce. Lately they’ve been going crazy – two or three without fail, so we’ve been handing out eggs to our family and neighbors so our basement fridge doesn’t burst.
So, that’s the scoop on the girls! It’s been a fun adventure for all of us, we’ve learned a ton in the near-year they’ve lived here. I’ve said it a thousand times….they are strrrrrraaaaange little creatures! But we love having them around. Hanging out with them on the patio is our new favorite summer pastime.