I’ve committed myself to raising my children with the knowledge of where food comes from, and respect for the food animals give us, which has led us to adopt 5 chickens, four reliable layers named for each of my great grandmothers, and my husband’s choice of one Buff Laced Poilsh for fun (who may or may not give us eggs), named Sookie due to our True Blood fandom.
My “great grandmothers” are Pauline, a Silver Laced Wyandotte; Helen, an Australorp; Clara, a Partridge Plymouth Rock; and Mabel, a Red Star.
The girls’ coop is nearly finished, an A-frame mobile ark, the construction of which has been held up by a hectic schedule, but they will officially be introduced to their new home by next week at 5 weeks of age. The chicks are outgrowing their makeshift brooder by leaps and bounds–leaping and bounding over each other without any manners whatsoever.
Sunday morning, I sprung Pauline from the brooder to bask in the sunshine for the first time. I felt guilty that at it was the first time she’d seen the sun. She stood still in the grass, unsure of what to do because everything around her was foreign. After several minutes of standing completely still, she began to peck around. Later, when it was time to go back into the house, I picked her up and noticed her little feet were chilly as she perched on the back on my hand.
It’s ridiculous, maybe, but I felt as empathetic for her cold little feet as I would for my kids’. Short of knitting chicken socks, but it’s going to take some getting used to putting my precious chickens outside in the big bad world.
My concern now is that our girls may not be feathered out enough for the cool fall nights. In the next few days, I’ll be a adopting the mantra, “Birds live outside. Get a grip.” Soon, I’ll be over it, and thankful they’re out of my house. Soon, I’ll have outdoor chicken chores to do every day, for which I’m now excited, but may one day bemoan. And, soon, I’ll have chickens running around my yard, creating a peaceful, bug-free haven from the craziness in my own big bad world.
Pauline’s girlfriends were huddled together in the brooder when I brought her back, and while I don’t want to put words in their beaks, they seemed afraid. When they saw Pauline return, they flocked to her, squawking like the sky was falling. I like to think they’re all best friends, thick as chicken stew.
I feel certain our adventure into sustainable living will teach us more lessons that we expect, and already I’m in awe of our new animals, and the relationships they’re creating between them. Sometimes I think I’m imagining it; other times, I feel like I’m a part of it. Raising chickens for eggs is more than just raising chickens, and what what means exactly, I’m about to find out.
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