Thankful for Andy

Andy is a very special chicken for quite a few reasons, not all of which are a credit to his character. Just saying.

As a wee chickie, Andy suffered some sort of childhood illness….which will remain nameless because we never figured out what it was. The long and short of it was our smallest chick had pulled out most of  his underside feathers, refused to sit down or eat, and cried constantly.

Andy – 1 week

Andy cried loudly. Andy cried all the time. Andy cried in his sleep. We could hear Andy crying from our bedroom. We could hear Andy crying over the TV. Andy liked to watch TV and that seemed to help sometimes.

In my attempt to “save” Andy on one particularly awful night, I very nearly killed him. After much reading (on the oh so reliable internet) I had narrowed down Andy’s illness to a few things – and promptly decided on a treatment involving a bath and Vaseline.

The bath wasn’t so bad, but the Vaseline was a huge mistake. So at 3 am in the middle of a lightening storm, my husband woke up to me sobbing next to the bed with a trembling and crying chick, because I KNEW deep in my heart, that I had just consigned Andy to an early and painful death.

It was all my fault.

Stephen dutifully got up and gave Andy another bath, toweled his little raw body down with a flannel square cut from his own pajamas, gave Andy back to me, and went right back to sleep.

Doc Martin

With the storm and my medical experiments behind us, Andy and I settled down on the couch with a heating pad and sugar water. We both watched a few episodes of Doc Martin, one of Andy’s favorite shows, and we resolved that I was, obviously, no doctor and that we should go on  to bed.

I set up Andy’s heating pad and flannel on a chair next to our bed. He seemed pretty content, but still very weak. I closed my eyes fully believing that he’d be gone by morning.

As the sun rose the next day, we found Andy happily attempting to “fly” from the chair into our bed – he was lonely. Thankful doesn’t begin to describe it!

Last week before Andy’s bath

Today, Andy is our largest chicken. He is kindhearted and still a little dopey. He can’t run in a straight line, occasionally makes poor decisions, and still needs the occasional bath…..don’t worry, Vaseline is no longer part of his life.

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Chickens and Horses

For years, Natalie’s Poppaw has kept horses, and occasionally he’ll rotate them into the chicken pasture. Chickens are entertaining creatures in their own right, but add horses to the mix and you’re guaranteed humorous antics.

Natalie’s Poppaw can tell the story of a stray hen that “took up” in the barn and made a habit of riding around on horseback, Napoleon style. Apparently, it was a win-win situation: the hen pecked free meals off the horse, and the horse got his back scratched and relief from flies.

Our chickens and the horses

So far, our chickens and the horses get on well together, too. The usually overprotective roosters don’t appear the least bit threatened by their much larger companions, even though the horses sometimes nudge the chickens around the pasture with their noses, as if dribbling soccer balls. Sometimes the chickens walk back and forth beneath the horses, or stand behind them and pull their tails. All in all, the chickens and horses seem to be good pals.

Perhaps the funniest episode between the chickens and horses occurred when Goldseeker got into the coop. At the time, it wasn’t funny at all, but looking back on it, Natalie and I laugh. Instead of wings and wattles, Goldseeker has hooves, a mane, and a very good sense of smell. One day, this sense of smell led him to the chicken coop.

The coop is rectangular, 6 feet wide by 10 feet long. A hen house is on one end of the coop and a door, 2 feet wide by six feet tall, is on the opposite end of the run. We often  leave the door open so chickens can go in and out to get food and water when free-ranging in the pasture–never dreaming that any of the horses could actually FIT through the door itself. Evidently, Goldseeker smelling the chicken feed just squeezed right in and made  himself at home.

Natalie and I had a horrible time getting him out of the coop. Since his rump was blocking the door, I had to squeeze between Goldseeker’s backside and the door frame to get into the run. Thankfully, he didn’t kick me. Once in there, I had little idea what to do. First, I tried turning him around, but he wasn’t cooperating and there wasn’t enough room anyway. Then, I tried removing the feeder. Goldseeker was batting the hanging feeder around like a piñata to spill the feed, which he then licked up off the ground. Natalie brought some hay to the coop to lure him out, but Goldseeker was determined to lick up every single pellet.

So, for what seemed like ages, three chickens, myself included, were trapped in a coop with a horse oblivious to anything but chicken feed. After he had eaten his fill, Goldseeker simply put himself in reverse and moonwalked out of the chicken coop.

In the end, I don’t know who was more thankful to get out of that coop–the chickens or myself! I know for a fact it wasn’t Goldseeker.

Gold and the chickens in the pasture

Meet the Flockers

About a year ago, Stephen and I got the bug in our brains that we would probably like raising chickens. All I know is that somewhere along the road I went from “I’m not doing anything with them except handling the eggs” to “if anything happens to my Penfold I’m going to be furious!”

One thing that both Stephen and I have learned about chickens is that each one brings its own unique and colorful personality to the table (a figurative table, not the dinner table). We still marvel at all the different little habits, buddy systems, and intelligence floating around our flock.

Mini is our head rooster–his personality is definitely a cross  between an angry Mr. Myagi and a grumpy Mr. Wilson. Mini hates mornings, nonsense, and loud noises. Despite his grumbles with life, he does a great job making sure his ladies are well fed, safe, and happy.

Flannery – Black Australorp

Flannery, Mini’s lady of choice, is our head hen. She is the epitome of daintiness and calmness, but she gets into her fair share of trouble when hanging out with Penfold.

Andy – White Langshan

Andy is our special little buddy. He and Mini are best friends and can almost always be found together. Andy has never progressed beyond the maturity of a 16-year-old boy–Girls, Girls, Food, Girls, Food, Food, Sleep, Girls – if you catch my drift. He’s our morning crower and afternoon stoner….at the end of the day, he’s a great rooster.

Penfold – American Gamefowl

Penfold is my special little devil. Despite being the smallest of our bunch, she  brings a whole new meaning to the term “hell on wheels.” She loves snuggling, and we spend quite a bit of time together……when she’s not playing in the woods, flogging the new girls, or leading the others in a quest to do something they really shouldn’t.

Charlie is our quiet girl. She’s dependable, consistent, and easy going–but she’s certainly not boring! Charlie possesses the unique ability to remain completely hidden in plain site–it’s like her father was chicken Houdini.

Josephine (Black Star), Pearla (Plymouth Rock)

Pearla and Josephine are the newest additions to our flock. They are quite a unique pair. Jo is extremely smart, enjoys exploring almost as much as Penfold, and hates Andy. Pearla is an innocent baby–wildly curious about everything, she spends most of her time in a little dream-like Pearla cloud. Pearls and Jo are very attached and dependent on one another and hate being separated. They give Mini and Andy a run for their money in the Best Friends department.

For us, the chickens are great, and we look forward to the hilarity and drama of each new chicken day. Our tribe has good days and bad, but at the end of it all, they are a family…..and it’s sort of like having Sister Wives meets The Young and the Restless playing out in your backyard everyday….you have no idea how much fun it is.