A coworker once asked me about my weekend, which launched me into a
conversation monologue about my chickens. I told her my husband and I had built some security into their run because of hawk problems, and that I had mucked out the chicken palace. At that last comment she snorted incredulously,
“You enjoy doing that?“
to which I replied,
“Well, yes I do.”
My chickens and geese depend on me. I get up, don my “Fashionable attire for feeding chickens and geese on COLD mornings,” brace myself, walk out the door, and set to work.
The routine is the same, it never varies by much except for how cold it gets. Today the ice on the chicken’s water is only the thickness of cardboard. Once last year it was over an inch thick and I had to go out and crack it again midday! This morning I easily break it with my wellies, and then reaching in with my ungloved hand, I lift out the shards. My fingers burn from the icy chill. Quickly I dry them on my wooly robe, and just as quickly reglove them.
Next, I let out Quasimodo and Miss Dixie, check for an egg, and grab their food dispenser to take with me to the barn for refilling.
Quasi is my special needs silky rooster. He has curled toes, that make him hobble and lurch, and he’s blind in one eye from an infection he picked up as a baby chick. Miss Dixie is a mixed breed, little white splash hen (Blue Andalusian and Buff Polish) who thinks that Quasimodo is the perfect mate… she can say,
“No, thank you dear.”
and there is nothing he can do about it.
Now, the fun begins! It’s off to the barn to let out the geese. As I near the roll up door I hear them becoming animated. I try to sneak up on them every morning, but their little grunting noises tell me that they’ve once again heard the gate latch. I approach the door and call out,
“Good morning duck-butts, good morning!”
Which gets them knocking on the metal door with their beaks in response. Huey stretches his long neck under the door and rushes out, next comes Polly who strolls out, stops, and taking a moment, looks up at me as if to say,
“Good morning to you Missus!” and “What took you so long?”
Last is Little Dorrit, who once everyone else is out of the way, begins flapping her wings and honking as she becomes airborne! This little morning flight gets her four feet up out of the straw and six feet out of the door. When she lands she takes off running and honking to catch up. I listen as her little flappy feet slap the frozen mud and I realize I’m smiling.
Last stop, the chicken palace. I open the gate to the run and hear them all cooing inside. Someone has gotten into someone else’ space in the door lineup inside the coop. Squawking and rustling ensues. I call out…
“Good morning stinkies, com’on out!”
I open the coop doors and they rush, tumbling beak-over-butt-feathers to get out and find breakfast. Some days, I let them out first and when they realize the food isn’t there yet, they race back to me, and stopping they look up as if to say,
“What’s this trick? Where’s breakfast?”
I refill their food dispenser, put food into the other chicken’s feeder, check their water and then go in to check for eggs. This morning I find that there is one, freshly laid, blue-green jewel in the back nest. Reaching in I pick it up and discover that it is still warm. Removing my glove from the still frozen hand I take the egg and cradle it there. It’s heat begins thawing my fingers as I place it into my pocket. Unwilling to let go, I leave my hand there with the egg until it becomes too cool to work its magic.
Almost done! Now, returning to the little coop, I hang the newly filled feeder for them, then looking back, I check quickly to be sure I haven’t left any gates open.
Pausing before I go in, I reach back into my pocket and pull out the little egg. Looking at it I think,
“This is why I do it.”
My little reward from my girls for the time I take to keep them happy.
Ahem, if you haven’t clicked on the link to “Fashionable attire for feeding chickens and geese on COLD mornings” then you’re missing out on a rare and candid view… 😉