Thursday, August 24, 2006

Our chicken adventures

Well having chickens has turned out to be quite an adventure for our family. Before we moved to North Carolina we had always lived near so many farms and did work for so many farmers that we never had need of getting our own that's not the story and I like my chickens anyway. I was given 8 of the cutest (I know chickens aren't supposed to be cute) tiniest little bantam chickens that I have ever seen.....7 hens and a beautiful white rooster. Well, shortly after getting the chickens we decided that we also wanted guineas to help control the bugs and snakes around here.....they are really ugly and noisy but they soon convinced me that they are important to keep around.

Our 8 little chickens and 4 guineas were happily running around their enclosure.....which we had built around 2 of the tiniest of the tiny chickens who had proven that they could escape the fully enclosed pen by getting out of it every single day for as long as we have had them. One of my tiny escape artists is named Harley because she was so easily found..... every time she escapes she runs straight to the little barn and perches on the back of a 3 wheeler that's parked in there....we jokingly call her our little biker chick. Turns out that Harley had laid herself a little clutch of eggs and gone broody and that was probably the biggest reason that she didn't want to stay in the pen with all of the other hens who are kind of bossy to her and bigger than her. So anyways, we built a bigger pen without a top on it all the way around where Harley had been camping out on her little nest and her little buddy who escapes with her all the time too.

Just a day or two after we had gotten the pen finished ( it was actually all the work of my sweet hubby.....I'll have to post a pic soon cuz it defies description) I happened to look out the window and see a little black puffy thing ....I mean a teensy tiny little black puffy thing bouncing around in the pen behind Harley. Thinking it was a mouse or a frog or something I run out there to save our tiny little biker chicken and give her a treat......ya know just cuz she is such a cute little chicken. Well, I get out there to discover that the teensy tiny little black puffy thing is a baby Harley!!! No bigger than my thumb and cuter than almost anything I've ever seen before. Well, my stone cold heart just melted all over the place as I watched this teensy tiny little puff of chicken follow it's momma everywhere she went doing everything she did in perfect mimicry. And you know Miss Harley was just the proudest little tiny biker chicken momma ya ever did see anywhere. She was so funny to watch that I stood there frozen for I don't know how long just observing how this strange and tiny little critter just knew how to be a good momma. I watched as she scratched up fresh food and spread her wings over her baby and made encouraging little chicken cooing sounds so that the baby could come up under her wings and eat in peace. I was so impressed with that tiny chicken making sounds that I'd never heard her make that clearly told the other chickens "this is my baby and you had better stay away"......and somehow that day our tiny little biker chicken seemed to be the biggest hen in the pen.

I finally tore myself away from the chicken pen to go inside and get back to schooling the kids firmly convinced that Harley was a good momma and that I didn't need to take the baby chick away. We had already named the baby chick Scooter because there just isn't a better name for the baby of the super duper tiny biker chicken momma Harley. Even the guineas seemed to know to leave that baby chicken alone though they were easily 10 times the size of Harley. We had finally gotten back into the books and the kids were doing well enough studying on their own that I jumped in the shower. I had only been out of the shower a minute or two when I heard the guineas sound the alarm.......guineas have a built in alarm system that I'll put up against a watch dog any day. You can't describe a guinea alarm but it sounds like the natural version of the car's sudden and utterly UN -ignorable. Well hearing all that racket I peeked out the curtain in the bedroom as I was getting dressed only to see a huge HAWK swooping down into the pen chasing Scooter!! Since I wasn't dressed enough to go outside (though I have to admit that I had my hand on the bedroom door before realizing this) I started yelling.....I mean SCREAMING at the kids to get outside and chase away the hawk. As I got done screaming to the kids who were pounding their way out the back door I looked back outside and the last thing I saw before running myself was the hawk scooped up the baby chicken and Harley JUMPED ON THE HAWK'S BACK!

As I ran up to the pen my heart just broke. Taeler was holding the baby chicken in her cupped hands and her whole body was shaking. I had seen as I was coming out the door the kids chasing away the hawk and the hawk dropping Harley's little biker chicken body on the ground. Tae had just scooped Scooter up without thinking to see if Scooter was still able to scoot even and now we were all afraid to look inside her hands. Poor Tae.....her whole body was shaking, the boys were sobbing and standing next to Harley's limp body laying on the ground. No one said anything until Tae sobbed "Mom, Harley is dead!"

As I walked over to see what exactly the hawk had done to Harley with tears in my eyes ........don't ya know that crazy little tiny biker chicken just jumped up with a loud chicken shriek and ran as fast as she could back to her nest looking for Scooter!! I bet you never heard such shouting and praising as was going on in our chicken yard that day when Tae opened up her hand and there was Scooter hopping up and down and chirping right back to Harley. We all stood there taking turns crying and shouting and praising the Lord that Harley and Scooter had survived while we watched that tiny little biker chicken momma cuddle and love her teensy tiny little baby chicken.

I was so thankful that the kids didn't have to see Harley die and that they were able to get outside in time to save Scooter and Harley both.....but I was really really extra thankful for the guineas and their extra loud extra annoying alarm calls! Well, after all that you can imagine how disappointed I am that this morning all 4 of my guineas escaped and ran away from home. We had only been able to partially cover the top of the chicken yard since the hawk attack....just enough to provide the chickens with enough cover to be safe from the hawks but I guess the guineas decided to fly out and leave. Maybe they will come back, I hope they come back. Guineas are ugly birds, but I don't know what we would do without them.....they are great watch birds, they eat all the bugs they can find, they eat snakes, they eat mice, and they guard my chickens!

1 comment:

Angela D said...

Too funny! You should have your stories published!
Love ya,
Sister Angela