I love to chat...with my chickens !
And, I have been known to sing to them. For those of you that keep backyard chickens, this will not surprise you, but for those of you who may be thinking right about now that I am indeed a "Crazy Chicken Lady" , so be it !
Chickens are social creatures, gregarious by nature. They enjoy the company of their flock-mates and thrive on interaction with their human family, and I in turn enjoy spending time amongst them. I often sit inside the hen house and catch up on all the latest gossip, although some of my happy hens are more chatty than others. Or, while we don't have the luxury of a fenced in backyard, as often as possible, we do allow them the freedom to free roam, albeit supervised, but free roam none the less so they can let their feathers down so to speak, and dig for worms and bugs, eat fresh grass and weeds, thank you very much, ladies and just be chickens. So I plop myself down in the yard and watch. Now, I admit that I sometimes need to offer a little directional guidance to the occasional free spirit wanderer, but they pretty much know their boundaries. During the two plus years that I have been keeping chickens, I have come to recognize their various peeps, clucks, coos, and cackles, squawks, and the ever popular, "makes me absolutely giddy" egg-laying honk ! Are you with me ?
Nothing beats the sound of chicken chatter in the early morning hours. Well, nothing, except maybe the sound of a rooster welcoming the new dawn. (more about that in my previous post, Good Morning !) Anyway, I say who needs an alarm clock when you have the anticipation of waking up to the gentle coos and clucks of a flock of chickens. I usually wake before the sun, and anxiously await those first few quiet coos and clucks from my sweet hens as they hop off their roost and greet the new day.
Chicken chatter is pretty much similar to that of the different cries your young baby makes, or the various woofs, barks, and growls of dog-speak. Chickens talk because they want to, because they have a need, because they have an announcement as in "Hey, everybody gather round, for I, have just laid a magnificent egg !", because they are content, because they are being picked on by the Bossy Mcbossy Bee in her Bonnet Betty, to express their sheer joy at being given the freedom to free roam, or just because they can. That's good enough for me. I revel in their chick-chat !
Rumor has it though, that in an all girl flock, one of those pretty little peeps may begin to crow. Yes, I said crow ! Apparently, when a male lead is missing, a leading lady may attempt to take his place. Such is the case with my little backyard flock- my most vocal hen, Abigail, a Black Australorp, LOVES to talk ! She literally gets up on her milk crate soap box and tells it like it is. She's not at the tippy top of my flock's pecking order, but she is definitely the spokes-chicken, so crowing was just a natural progression for my dear "Gabby Abby" ! Abigail has perfected the art of the "almost crow"- while she doesn't quite sound like her professional counterpart, if practice makes perfect, she'll undoubtedly be crowing like a pro in no time at all. And not to be out shined by the men, Abby has created her own unique version of crowing- she belts out a squawk and boy can she hold a note ! Pavarotti himself would be impressed ! Applause, applause !
I first became enamored by chickens several years ago and avidly read everything about keeping a small backyard flock of chickens that I could get my hands on. I researched breeds, chatted with friendly nearby veteran chicken keepers, read about the care of day old babies, the care, feeding, bedding and housing options for the ladies once they graduated to the great outdoors, the how to of predator proofing their new abode, and daydreamed, daydreamed, daydreamed of THE day ! That day arrived on March 16, 2010 ! I got THE call from my local post office that my peeps had arrived and I was ecstatic. My son, Jeremy, likes to retell that moment in history, about how I shouted out, "They're here !!!!!" practically loud enough to be heard in Alaska ! I asked to open the box at the post office, just to check on their general well being, even though that was quite obvious by the all the peeping. From that very first peak, I was absolutely smitten and madly in love with these day old little balls of fluff.
On a beautiful, warm, cloudless day in May, the girls moved in to their new digs- my amazing husband, David, designed and built an equally amazing dog house size hen house. It couldn't have been more perfect. We added a nice enclosed run around it, propped it up on cement blocks so the ladies could enjoy cool shade on hot days, and we introduced them to their home sweet home. They settled in nicely and pecked at the soft spring grass. Then, came the BIG wait...for the first egg, of course. With the approximate date marked on my kitchen calendar, I waited as patiently as I could. Well, surprise, surprise...one of my more advanced egg laying students, popped one out a couple weeks early. I carried that EGG-ceptional egg around my neighborhood proudly showing all who would look and they shared in my joy ! They of course "Oooohed and Ahhhhed" and congratulated me on this magnificent milestone.
And the rest, as they say, is history !!!
I'm linked up with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop !