A declaration was made in my house by my daughter: no turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. Dag-nab-bit. She has become such a poultry lover since we moved to the farm and got baby chicks. Little fluffy, precious, peep-y baby chicks. So what shall we have for a main dish? That remains to be seen. She recommended that we make a tofu dish and shape it like a turkey.
Here, our PET CHICKENS are the reason for the lack of fowl on the Feast Day of Giving Thanks.
Let me tell you about chickens. You purchase baby chicks and immediately fall in love with the little balls of fluff. You take extra good care of them for about 6 months and then they gift you with these:
In the wild, birds lay one egg a day for several days until instinct tells them that they have enough. This might be 4 or 5 or 6 or even more. Once that final egg is laid, the mother sits on all the eggs in her nest and incubates them so they’ll hatch. She barely leaves her nest. In the wild, the male birds will often bring food to the female who is sitting on the eggs. It depends on the type of bird as to how many days it takes for the eggs to hatch.
Well, a “broody” hen is one who is sitting on her eggs, trying to incubate them. The first chicken who laid an egg for us laid about 21 eggs and then decided to incubate. This was Phoebe, the Phoenix.
She is a sweetie-pie. The problem, as I mentioned in a prior post, is that I collected all her eggs as she laid them. So, the only things in her nest for her to incubate were a ping pong ball and a golf ball. No matter to her. She was ready to DO THIS THING called motherhood. She is sitting on them.
From the advice of chicken mamas on Facebook, I removed both the ping pong ball and the golf ball from my little hen Phoebe. My intent was to get her off the nest and back to laying eggs. Friends, she was going crazy looking for her eggs (ping pong ball and golf ball). I couldn’t take it (being the kind of farmer I am: kinda not tough enough ). So I finally broke down and decided to put her baby balls back in her nest. I placed the ping pong ball and my daughter went to get the golf ball. Phoebe immediately fly up to the nest box and tucked that ping pong ball up under her. When my daughter brought the golf ball to her, she gently took her beak and rolled it out of my daughter’s hand and into the nest box. Her baby was back! And so, to this day, she continues to be broody. This particular type of chicken, a Phoenix, is known to be an excellent mother and often “goes broody.” In fact, some people use this type of hen to hatch the eggs of a hen that refuses to sit on her eggs.
Now earlier today I had a truly glamorous farm task: cleaning out the chicken house. This is something everyone should experience at least once in their lives. I encourage you to do so. Especially if you’re like me and have spent a great deal of time in an office in a suit. ‘Twere Gross. And, Darlings, I’ll be glad to let you come and experience it in my chicken house. I’ll have a sign-up sheet on the door.
I know you’ve see the fancy white chicken houses, with chandeliers hung inside, in magazines and on Pinterest. Folks, no. That is simply not REALITY. Chicken houses are yucky, with droppings everywhere and on everything. I cleaned out our barn all last winter from horse manure and that was WAY LESS YUCKY than cleaning out the chicken house.
But I needed and wanted to clean it out from top to bottom before winter. We had a bout of cold weather last week and I realized that I should have done it before then.
I raked and swept out all the litter on the floor. I was shocked to see how much chicken feed was there mixed among the pine shavings and manure.
I think I’ll put up a billboard in their house with my picture on it that says “Eat more feed.”
Then, I took a combination of clementine cutie peelings, mixed with vinegar and water and scrubbed down any surfaces that had droppings on them. This included the roost, the steps to the roost and yes, the rocking chair. I know several of you have asked about that old rocking chair I accidentally built the coop around (I would sit in it while we built the coop, not realizing it was too large to get it out of the door).
That rocking chair is a favorite roost spot. It is the choice real estate for the chickens.
Looking into the window from outside one night, jammed on the rocking chair:
The chair, as those of you who have chickens can imagine, is very dirty from the droppings of the perched birds.
Let me introduce you to my flock. I don’t know why I haven’t done this before.
Black Cochin Rooster
Mr. Cochie is huge. And he sounds fabulous when he crows! Someone visited the other day and saw Mr. Cochie. They said that he was a ribbon winner. Made my heart proud. He is friendly and sweet. He keeps his eye on all his “girls” and makes sure they are safe and sound.
Heather and Heather
Modern BB Red Games
They are ALWAYS together. Two peas in a pod. Twins. Always side-by-side. Even in step, as you can tell from the pic. That’s why they share a name. Heather and Heather.
Sweet, noisy, friendly girl. She loves attention and interaction. I’ve always called her “Mama’s Little Angel.”
Lola and Lotta (and my Bogs)
These two Red Caps are also always together. They are skittish and flighty and hate to be held.
Rue, Grandpa, Callie
White Faced Black Spanish
Fabulous birds. They are distinguished and sophisticated and well-mannered. They are friendly as well.
White Crested Black Polish
Poli and Poppi
Poor Poppi is bald headed because the other birds always peck on her crest. These two are precious. They are vocal and friendly.
OH MY GOODNESS, I DON’T HAVE A PHOTO OF JERSEY!! Poor child. How could that be? I’ll make one today~!
Black Jersey Giant
Jersey is a large chicken. She has a lot to talk about, clucking all the day long. But, she really won’t let us pick jer up. She doesn’t mind being petted, but prefers to have her two feet on the ground.
Ty-Gee (on left)
Cinnabun (on right)
White Laced Red Cornish
Littel Ty-Gee is a real love. She’s also the tiniest chicken. She is fast moving and always running around. She LOVES to be held and cuddled. She is my daughter’s favorite. Ty-Gee has a BFF, Cinnabon. Although they are different breeds of chicken, they formed a bond that is tight, tight, tight. They roost next to each other every night and spend the day side by side.
This bird used to be friendly until I had to doctor it some. You know how that goes. It involved her backside, so now she runs from me. “NOT YOU!” My daughter named her Coconut because she had a dream that my Mom told her to name this chicken Coconut. So she did!
Phoebe is my little broody hen. What a good Mama she is to the golf ball and the ping pong ball. Imagine if I let her incubate some eggs one day.
So these beautiful birds are ALL the reasons we aren’t having FOWL for Thanksgiving Day dinner.
Well, I should say possibly not having.
My husband’s position is that “offspring” doesn’t make Thanksgiving menu declarations. He has had turkey and gravy on the Thanksgiving table for over 50 years and he intends to keep it that way. FOUL!, he says.
Now, what’s your absolute always every Thanksgiving dish on your table? You know, the one you can’t live without? Is it turkey? Or some special side dish your Grandma used to make? I think mine is that Orzo Cranberry Casserole I make. Yes, I think I can live without turkey, but not the Orzo. And my Mom’s green beans. And my mother-in-law’s pumpkin pie.
In other farm news, we had a visitor the other day.
My horses froze in their tracks to see the visitor.
What was it?!
A neighbor’s cow had gotten out and came to visit. Well Hello There!
(ps Cows are another thing not on my table. I guess pretty soon we’ll be all potatoes and pasta…)
Until next time, Friends, savor the flavor of life!
Lots of love, The City Farmgirl, Rebekah
Nah, he actually says, “Whatever…”