Meet My Girls

[Previous Rural Farmgirl, April 2009 – May 2010]
I traded working in an office for spending time with my girls.
They are the perfect example of how “girls” can get along. Each of them seems to be quite content going about her day in her own fashion. Some of them are a little more pushy then others, some a little more shy, and some a little more adventuresome; yet all seem content in a weird sort of way, like they are all totally “okay with their lot in life.” I never pick up on jealousy or cattiness; they just go about their day mindful of each other yet content to be themselves.

Okay, so the girls of which I speak are chickens, but I am not sure they KNOW they are chickens. I have eight Buff Orpington hens, and as their name might imply, they seem to think they belong to the breed above all other breeds. They even look puzzled at times that their “Buff Orpington” name isn’t followed by “the third”… you know, that uppity demeanor that states, “Excuse me, I am from the Buff Orpington III lineage”.
 
Knowing that my Buff Orpingtons are a heritage breed was important when I was choosing them (as was the fact that their feathers match my garden color palette, which is a whole other post that I will get to), but I was surprised that they seemed to know that they are a heritage breed and with that comes (or should come) some sort of homage.
 
I love having chickens; there is something about them that I find calming. I could sit and watch them for hours. Having been married to a farm boy for 25 years and mothering four boys, I really love saying that I have girls. (And I don’t always feel the need to admit to the non-farmgirl that my girls are chickens.)
 
I have learned a lot by watching “my girls.” They seem to have not a care in the world, or else they’ve found a way to never let it show. We have a good working relationship: I take care of them, and they take care of me. I feed, water and offer them shelter. In return, they offer me a calm and serene environment and eggs. It seems like a perfect deal…a win/win. They seem to agree when they greet me in the mornings with a hello and excitement that I have come to visit and let them out.
 
As I sit and watch them, it is easy to see their distinct personalities. I call one Snoopy because no matter what I am doing, she has her beak right up in it and no amount of asking her to stop will work; she is fearless. Another is so shy that I call her Shy Ann and always go over and scoop her up. I find myself cradling her in my arms as I walk throughout the yard. Then there is Tenacity; she is the smallest, but the biggest fireball you can even begin to imagine. She will peck me and squawk in protest over the slightest things. Yet with all these personalities, they all seem to find a way to accept each other on their own terms.
 
So the trade of working in an office for time with my girls has been great. Even now, as I write this, I have laptop in hand and Shy Ann in my lap. Really, does it get better than that?

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  1. karin says:

    Those girls sound wonderful, I have always wanted a few chickens but have left it a bit late. I can’t move around easily enough any more to keep up with things, but I love reading everyone’s blogs and posts about their chicken adventures…

    Karin

  2. Florence says:

    I love your girls, I have raised chickens in the past, now my husband says when I slow my work down I can have chickens again. That means I do not work five days a week from home.
    Until then I share in the joy those who do have chickens.

  3. Marian Schiefke says:

    Hi there Rene:

    I am new to the country as my husband and I retired to two and a half acres in a lovely country setting near Ladysmith, BC. Canada. I am slowly turning the land into my own Naturewood where I will plant native plants and wild flowers and ‘Violas Gardens’ which I hope to cultivate into a small Market Garden in the next year. I would love to have some chickens but know nothing about raising chickens. Could you give me a site or some information on simple chicken raising. I would like to use the eggs for eating and possibly sell a few dozen each week and the manure to fertilize my garden soil.

    Thanks Marian

     

    Hi Marian,

    Sounds like you are living the dream. Check out http://www.backyardchickens.com they are loaded with info. Also come chat with us farmgirls over at http://www.maryjanesfarm.org click onto "chat with other farmgirls" as there is a wealth of info.. I sure can say that, "All I ever learned, I learned from a farmgirl". 

    Keep me posted on your adventure!

    Rene’

  4. I’m getting my first flock of chickens this year! I am sooo excited! Two questions: How many "girls" have you got – and how do you tell them apart?

    Telling them apart, can be a little tricky. However, they certainly have distinctive personalities. The number that one should keep, should be determined by the space you have. http://www.backyardchickens.com is a great resource… Let me know how it goes for you, when you get yours.

  5. Cathy Parsons says:

    I have lived on a farm with my husband for 25 years. We don’t have chickens but I would love to have some. It reminds me of my childhood when my mother raised chickens and we had baby chicks and fresh eggs to eat. That was the life growing up. Like many of you, the demands of time at work is keeping my husband and I waiting for retirement to add more critters to our brood.

    Cathy,

    Boy it does take time to have critters, but I sure love it!  My "girls" are the best. I think I save a bundle on therapy just because I have them :), I can’t think of a better retirement reward :)

  6. How very fun! I have always heard farm girls call their laying hens "the girls." My heart just aches to have my own flock of "girls." Praying!

    Marcia,

    You would "LOVE" it. They are a lot of fun!

  7. Blair says:

    Living with Chickens by Jay Rossier is a wonderful resource full of color photos and invaluable information. Chickens are in our furture so I’m gathering information now. I love the beautiful Buff Orpington hens and am wondering how I am going to find just the three beauties I’m allowed to have in Mercer Island, WA. Any resources when you can’t buy chickens in bulk? Most websites such as McMurray’s Hatchery advertise wonderful breeds but sell in high quantities only.

    Thanks!

    Hi Blair,

    There are a couple of ways you can get your girls. In the spring local feed supply stores will carry them. If you go in a head of time, they will also special order for you to be shipped with theirs. Also, find a local food co-op and hang a flyer for others looking to purchase, you can purchase them together. Which is what we did. If youre a part of a local farmgirl chapter~ some of those gals will want in for sure.  If you are wanting to get some prior to Spring; watch craigs list, capital press or the local paper for someone parting with some. Also places like Washington State Tilth has a great "Ad’s" list,so watch them as well.. Good luck!

  8. Renae says:

    I get mine at a local hatchery a little drive away in Columbus Nebraska. I get about 100 at a time, and stay busy washing eggs and delivering them. Summers, I go to at least one farmer’s market a week, occasionally more. My daughters love to feed them grubs out of the garden, and scraps from the kitchen. Our local school also orders some to hatch in a science class that they are willing to part with every spring, so that is a possibility for you as well. Renae

  9. Kathy says:

    This is my first year to have chickens. I have 5 Buff Orphingtons and 6 Barred Rocks. Yesterday was their first day in the coop. They turned 5 weeks on Monday. I love it. When they see me coming, they run to meet me. I have named one after my daughter who lives in Tacoma. Her name is Jessica and she has a mean streak.(the chicken) She was the only one to roost on the side of the brooder box and jump on another chick as it passed. Then she would run and jump back up on the edge of the box. Haven’t named them all yet. Your blog is wonderful.