My husband and I got the Chicken Bug – real bad. We absolutely looooove having chickens in our yard – they’re extremely entertaining and the eggs are so fresh and yummy. Mmmmm…
So of course we decided to get more. We called up The Chicken Man (he’s awesome) and lined up a time to come pick out another hen. Then my husband casually mentions, “I read that if you have a rooster your chickens will want to lay more eggs.” Another call to The Chicken Man – he’s got a guy who wants to give away a rooster, the runt of a batch that’s getting picked on by the other, bigger roosters. Perfect. We’ll take him.
We arrived to pick out a new hen and take home our rooster, and I see not one, but two hens that I want… So… What was going to be one new chicken in the field turned into three. You should expect nothing less from me by now – clearly I’m whimsical and ridiculous.
The excitement of new things are often tainted by rose-colored-glasses.
First there was the ride home. In my brand new car…
Entertaining, but required quite a feather cleanup.
Then, after naming the new additions (Vinny the rooster, because he’s a Jersey Giant; Bertha the black sexlink; and Winifred the golden sexlink), we introduced them to the current residents. Vinny wasted not a minute – he chased Tootsie, got in a fight with Mabel, and then mounted Gertrude. Hardly a “hello” and he’s doing his business.
In the month that we had our first four chickens, not one of them tried to escape. Not even once; not an ounce of curiosity about the world outside their field. Within an hour, Bertha and Vinny had both jumped on and out of the fence. Catching chickens, especially roosters with spurs, in an open area – is not easy. But back in the field they went – once, twice, and Vinny a third time.
And finally… Nightfall… When we got the first four hens, by The Chicken Man’s suggestion, we kept them in their coop and run for a few days to help them understand that Coop D’VIlle was home. H.O.M.E. Lay eggs here, sleep here – here is your shelter. From the beginning, they always went right inside, no problems. But this is definitely not an instinctual behavior. We had to teach them, and I had hoped the veteran residents would teach the newbies.
Nope. Not a chance.
By dark, none of the three new birds were anywhere to be found – definitely not in their coop WHERE THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO BE. I put on my trusty rubber boots, grabbed a flashlight, and started searching the field. I found Winifred easily – she was AT the coop but not IN the coop. I threw her in (gracefully, I’m sure) and continued the search. A few minutes later, I found Bertha, hunkered down in a patch of grass in the field. She protested slightly with some clucks and chatter, but in the coop she went. Back to the hunt for Vinny.
I looked everywhere, and started to panic when I still couldn’t find him several minutes later. He had already jumped out of the fence several times – did he escape again? For good? ON THE FIRST NIGHT? Damn, I’m a terrible chicken mom… After searching for 20 minutes, thinking back to my days in the islands where chickens slept outside at night – in the trees, on the ground, anywhere they felt like – I decided to call it a night and hope for the best in the morning. Surely he was somewhere safe and he’d show himself in the morning.
I went into the Doemicile to check on the goats, give one last little scratch behind the ear goodnight – and who is there, snuggled up against Rosie and Lily? Vinny. My rooster, the ladies man. In his first day he wooed all the ladies of the field, including the goats.
After borderline screaming in protest, rivaling my own abilities to holler, I picked him up and carried him to the Coop. Gertrude was especially happy to see him. Love at first sight for her. Should I tell her she’s just one in the harem? Better to let her live her fantasy.
Farm life is good. 99% of the time.