Meet some new hot chicks.
Those of us at the doodle house were feeling the pain of losing our beloved Marion recently. So, like any grieving chicken parents, we picked up some new ladies recently to help us:
1) ease our wounds
2) give eventual company to surviving Francis Sue
3) provide us with blogging material.
Clearly, points 1 and 2 are the most important. Point 3 is just a lucky perk. Meet the new ladies.
Keeping in step with our naming-chickens-after-grandparents theme, this little lady has been dubbed Patsy. She is the leader of the 2 youngest chicks. She’s a hot blonde with a lot of attitude. Welcome to the family.
Elouise, here, is a soft-spoken gentle soul who gets along swimmingly with all her fellow chicks.
This is Chick. We picked up Chick before the other two babes, and we bonded with her instantly. We never gave her an official name, but she doesn’t really need one. She comes when you call and loves humans to an unusual degree–she is more like a dog when you get right down to business.
So there it is. The hot new chicks of the doodle house. Stay tuned for more developments.
Yesterday I came home from work to find Marion dead in the coop. It was frightfully upsetting.
Marion was the the godfather chicken of the doodlehouse, the original gangster. We brought her home as a chick last summer and watched her grow from a furry and skittish baby chick to a matronly sweetheart of a chicken. She gave us eggs, nurtured the other fowl we brought into the yard and pecked around the premises with a cheerful personality that made waking up in the morning and coming home after work just a little bit sweeter.
Immediately after stumbling upon her lifeless body in the coop, I was flooded with emotion. Why? It’s hard to say. She was a chicken, not a dog. Heck, we even did in a rooster ourselves. But for some reason this discovery sent a shockwave through the doodle house.
Losing a chicken at the hands (or paws, or claws, or talons) of another animal is incredibly unsettling. Part of my shock, sadness, and frustration was rooted in the realization that, even in my own backyard, I have no control over the savagery that exists in nature. I felt guilty, too. Guilty for allowing it to happen and for giving the chickens the allusion of a safe haven, of a peaceable kingdom, only to leave them susceptible to attack.
In the end I guess you have to shrug it off, sigh, and say “these things happen.” But it doesn’t make the absence of our orange beauty Marion any easier to swallow.
Chicken Run, it turns out, is the story of my life. But instead of playing the determined, capable and charismatic chicken (as I always assumed I would if cast in a barn-themed movie), I would play the evil, ruthless chicken-hunting villain determined to keep the chickens cooped. That is certainly how Frannie Sue perceives my life at least.
How do I know this? For the past couple of weeks, mornings at the doodle house have consisted of invigorating little games of “Chase the Chicken,” in which I, or Heath, spend a good 5 minutes herding Frannie Sue (and it’s always Frannie Sue) from the front yard—into which she has somehow managed to appear—back into the rear.
Despite being constantly fed and tended to, Frannie Sue is determined to escape (so determined, in fact, I’ve considered renaming her Andy Dufresne), and she always finds a way. Over the fence. Through a hole. Beamed by Scotty…what have you. This was all well and good because for one reason or another, Frannie Sue called her escape quits once she hit the front yard. This is either because:
1.) She is a “chicken” in the sense that she is too afraid and cowardly to proceed any further.
2.) She is an idiot.
3.) She is as loyal a bird as Stella is a doodle and can’t bare any real separation as she fears the inevitable anxiety it would cause.
I’d like to give credit to either choices 1 or 3 as they imply some sort of forward thinking on the chicken’s part, but in all actuality, number 2 is probably our best bet.
Or so I thought, until…
FRANNIE SUE RECRUITED MARION INTO HER ESCAPADES.
I arrived home yesterday afternoon to find not one, but TWO CHICKENS pecking around the front yard. I was heart broken.
Marion, how could you? I thought we had moved beyond our rocky history and started fresh? I thought you knew we were here to provide a port in the storm, protection from neighborhood cats,
constant eating of your babies. We gave you a new friend with whom to play and this is how you repay me?
Francis Sue, you tricky little devil. You recruited your mentor, your mother-figure, your friend, to join you on your quest to escape The Doodle House. Escaping alone wasn’t good enough, so you poisoned the well and got innocent, sweet Marion to join you. There will be consequences.
I put my devastation aside for a moment to engage in “Chase the Chicken, Level 2” and got the ladies back into doodle territory ASAP. My plan worked well enough, but I was still left with a tricky predicament. What’s a girl to do with 2 renegade chickens?
The way I see it, I’ve got 3 choices:
• I can do nothing and hope the chickens continue to abandon their escape plan once they reach yardus frontus. It’s a risky choice but one that takes the delicate feelings of the chickens into consideration.
• I can clip their wings which seems logical enough but I’m a bit squeamish and unqualified to perform such a complicated surgery. Plus it would only add to the trauma I seem to have at some point caused them.
• Keep ’em cooped. Good for the yard, bad for chicken morale.
Such are the stresses of my life and the lives of those at The Doodle House. Chickens, I beg you, keep the shenanigans on this side of the fence and spare yourselves the drama that may be to come.
Francis Sue (2.0) and Helen (2.0) finally saw the sun this weekend. Their fuzz turned to feathers, which means the chicks were able to move on to bigger and better things–the doodle house back yard.
We’d heard that the first meeting of new chicks with old hens can sometimes be tricky and territorial, but the three all took to one another like a fish to water.
Frannie Sue likes to jump on top of Marion.
And while we are at it, here are a few of the garden.
Heath’s greens are pretty impressive. We’ve enjoyed many a fresh salad with his lettuce, spinach and chard.
One of Heath’s favorite new hobbies is going on walks and comparing his tomatoes to our neighbors’. We don’t have any fruit yet but will keep you posted.
Since egg number one arrived two weeks ago, Heath and I have been checking the chicken coop routinely for new eggs, finding roughly one every 4 days or so. While we were THRILLED with the recent egg production, we were a little bummed she wasn’t yielding more. We had heard that a healthy chicken can produce one egg every day, so we got to work making sure our chicken was as happy as possible:
- We covered their sleeping shelter with a blanket to keep them warm at night
- We let them roam the yard throughout the day to scratch for bugs
- We check on their food and water supply every day, changing it out more frequently.
Still, we weren’t seeing the results we wanted until today, when realized an incredible truth…Marion has been laying decoy eggs in the chicken house to protect the real batch she has been tending to in a sheltered corner of the yard.
All along she has been secretly nesting! Heath and I were so excited; we may have a whole batch of baby chicks soon! There is much research to be done to figure out how best to care for these little babies (we assume them to be hatchable since Ruby is a rooster), but we are optimistic that we will have at least a few little chicks in the coming weeks.
Doodles + Chickens = Love
When the coop first came to being, the dogs did their fair share of circling the new habitat, intently trying to get a taste of baby birds. And we’d been pretty religious about keeping the dogs separate from the chickens at all times, especially since the great squirrel catastrophe of 2010 where I came home to find a dead squirrel on the couch like a prized hunting trophy. It still brings back nightmares.
So this weekend when the dogs some how got outside while we were letting the chickens roam, Heath and I were a bit panicked to say the least.
“NO!” I heard Heath yell from the back yard. The screen door slammed against the house a second after, so I knew that meant the doodles had hurled themselves clumsily into the backyard, likely in pursuit of fresh chicken. Visions of feathers flying through the air like a middle school pillow fight consumed my brain as I ran outside to try and and pull vicious labradoodles from penetrating the flesh of our beloved Ruby and Marion.
You can imagine our surprise when we saw dogs and chickens cohabitating in peace.
All this time we had assumed a meeting between beast and bird would conclude in a squirrel-like tragedy, but here they were, blissfully ignoring one another. There was some sniffing by both parties, but for the most part, the chicks and the children live in peace.
It’s a Martin Luther King Junior Day MIRACLE! Today Marion became the proud parent of a healthy 2-ounce egg. After seven months of pampering we finally have an egg out of our chicken.
It was delicious. Here’s hoping there are many more to come.