Look Who’s 1!

Our hens are one year old this month!  After years of dreaming about backyard chickens, nervously placing an order for day old chicks before a shovel was even sunk into the ground, then anxiously awaiting their arrival, my chicks have now gone from peeping fluff balls to clucking hens, proudly announcing eggs laid and squawking and chattering to us as if we understood one another.

 

IMG_7788
Bumble, our Buff Orpington, allowed me to put the hat on her but it wouldn’t stay put, falling and covering her face, so I gave up, not wanting to distress her.

These girls are so much fun to interact with, at times feeling more like pets than farm animals as they follow me around the yard, come when I call them and anxiously chatter at the very sound of my voice.  With six to eight fresh eggs per day now, we appreciate where this nutritious protein source comes from and we’re able to share the benefits of fresh eggs with friends and neighbors.  This year of being a chicken mama has been fantastic!

 

IMG_7793.JPG
Like all of the girls, Lucy, out golden laced Wyandotte, does well with being handled, squatting for me when I approach and following me around the yard like any other pet.

To mark the occasion, I dug out some lingering party decorations, doled out some treats and a chose a suitable gift, not that unlike any other birthday celebration.  In lieu of a cake, my girls enjoyed pecking at a head of cabbage and delighting in several handfuls of mealworms.  Their gift:  a brand new xylophone for their musical enjoyment.

IMG_8529.JPG
A birthday present fitting one year olds.  They cocked their heads sideways when I demonstrated the sounds it would make, assessing its merit and deeming it non edible, thus of little value.

Given how long it took these girls to appreciate the fun a head of cabbage hanging on a rope could bring, I suspect it will be weeks before they peck away at the xylophone.  When I initially hung a cabbage months ago, I tied it to a rope, resulting in the cabbage falling out upon first peck and instilling complete fear of future cabbages.  Even when my husband rigged up a way to hang them properly, they walked around it, feathers ruffled and wings spread if accidentally bumped into, until one day, a brave girl pecked at it and let the fun begin.  Now they demolish cabbages in a few short days.

I’m hoping the xylophone has a smoother initiation and also that it becomes a pecking option as someone is quite unkind in this brood.  I have three suspects, pretty much the ones with pristine feathers.  I have seen some unkind behavior but not always from the same hen so I think there may be more than one culprit.  I’ve debated pulling the presumed ring leader out for a few days or trying peepers, but I haven’t committed to either option just yet.

 

IMG_8533.JPG
Cabbage properly secured, it provides days of entertainment.  I frequently see it swinging back and forth when I look out of the kitchen window.

My spring chores including edging, weeding and spreading five yards of mulch.  This has instilled madness in the girls who love scratching away at the new mulch to unearth worms and bugs.  I have dumped pieces of sod from the edging into the coop and the girls will actually leave foraging when they see the wheel barrow head to the run where I dump these chunks of earthen goodness into their run.  Once they’ve pecked away the grasses and weeds, fresh soil is left behind, perfect for impromptu dust bathing which has greatly escalated as a result.

I personally celebrated the girl’s first birthday with a lovely breakfast of two freshly laid eggs, still warm when I collected them, along with some freshly harvested spinach from the awakened garden.  As I sat and enjoyed this backyard offering, I cherished the joy and education these backyard chickens have brought into my family’s life.  We’re all smitten with these spoiled chickens, from their silly antics to their delicious fresh, organic eggs.

The warmer days call to the girls just as they do to us humans, beckoning us outdoors to revel in the sun and warm weather, feasting our eyes on all that is new again, and recognizing the blessings of the earth in which we live.   I’m giving them as much outdoor time as I can right now, thankful for their presence and thoroughly enjoying their company when I work outside, except when I turn my back and realize they’ve undone what I just did, but that comes with the territory.  My garden isn’t so pristine anyhow.  Like any good mama, I take lots of pictures.  Here are a slew of pictures of them- the big one year olds!

IMG_8438.JPG
I love watching them race out of the run when I open the door, fluffy butts up, heads down, scrawny legs in motion.

 

IMG_8440
Searching for escaped bird seeds is a favorite past time when free ranging.

 

 

IMG_8495.JPG
Lucy, the golden laced Wyandotte, and Isabella, the Easter Egger, have become the matriarchs of this brood.  Interesting that these two have such pristine feathers…

 

 

 

IMG_8484
Bumble, our Buff Orpington, was a bright yellow chick, hence the name my son chose for her.

 

IMG_8481
Do I see fresh mulch?!  Sophia, the barred Plymouth Rock, has a bald spot on her back from pecking. 

 

IMG_7798.JPG
Poor Ethel, the silver laced Wyandotte, has been the victim of pecking for a long time, despite the fact that she’s actually the biggest bird in the flock.  She’s tired of being sprayed with Blu-Kote to protect her wounds so the moment she sees the spray in my hand, she runs from me, affording me quite an escapade to get her wounds sealed.

 

IMG_8444.JPG
Rybekkah, our Welsummer, on a mission to find some worms and bugs after the rain.

 

IMG_8443
Lulu, the Columbian Wyandotte, wandering the ‘bee tapestry,’ as I like to call our backyard for all of the dandelions interspersed with wild violets, clovers and grasses.  The girls find these bee friendly weeds just as enticing as the honey bees.

 

IMG_8273.JPG
Honey, our Rhode Island Red, is as sweet as her name and follows me around even closer than my dog!  I took this picture when I was cleaning the coop as the girls foraged.  Low and behold, up she jumped into the open door to see what I was doing.  As I spoke to her, she cocked her head all manner of ways, including up like this to get a better gander at me.  Crazy girl!

 

IMG_8326.JPG
They love to jump up onto this ledge and peer into the coop.

 

IMG_8500
These three are about to get into trouble, wandering into ‘no chickens’ zones.  Of course, Honey is the leader of the pack having taken note of the fresh mulch.

 

Happy Birthday Girls!

IMG_8356

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul…

   – Emily Dickinson

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s