While checking the chickens this week, I noticed one silkie hen squished between the coop and the fence. I gently unsquished her and set her down.
She was very unsteady on her feet and it looked like a wing was broken. I consulted chicken doctor Rachel who put her in a laundry basket in the bathroom while she did some research.
When my piano student arrived the next day and needed to use the restroom, I found myself saying “There is a chicken in my bathroom,” which reminded me of a song (which is a pretty standard occurrence around here).
The song is entitled “There’s a Hole in the Bucket.” I have a couple of different books illustrating this song which is basically a conversation between Henry and Liza revolving about how to fix the hole in the bucket.
As I went about my day, I thought of many verses to “There’s a chicken in my bathroom.” I would write it all out but I’m quite sure no one would understand.
It turns out that this particular breed of chicken has a soft spot in its skull much like a newborn baby. This soft spot does not close so if the hen gets pecked on the head, it can cause minor damage – like a concussion. This would cause her to be unsteady and want to hide from the others.
Our injured hen seems to be doing better now that she is separated from the danger of pecking hens. She is eating and drinking and can move around more securely. She even talks to us when we are in the room. We’ll try to incorporate her back into the flock later this week.
One of my favorite breeds of chickens is the frizzle. We started with one black bantam frizzle hen named Frizz.
She has always had quite an attitude. In fact when Rachel tried to include her in the color project by putting her into a separate coop, she refused to stay put. She would rather run with the big hens.
We now have a white bantam frizzle rooster named Richard.
He has his own personality. He is in a separate run with silky hen. Rachel is trying to produce a silky frizzle, otherwise known as a sizzle. It hasn’t happened yet.
Anyway, each evening when I go to close the chickens up in their coops, Richard is less than cooperative. In fact, he often protests so loudly, Rachel comes to make sure the chickens are not under attack. He may fly into the next coop or out into the yard.
Eventually I catch him, hold him tightly, stroke his frizzle feathers and explain that I am not going to hurt him. He just needs to spend the night safely in his coop.
Last week he actually let me put him up without the traditional squawking and loop around the chicken yard. Maybe he is calming down. But then is there really such a thing as a calm frizzle?
Our neighbors have started keeping chickens again. The coop is up against the privacy fence between our yards. It drove the dogs crazy at first. Bella, the chicken hunter, tried to dig under the fence to get to them. This was while Brian and I were in Colorado so Rachel had to be extra vigilant to protect the neighbor’s chickens
There is a tree growing right along the fence line. In fact, it is between the privacy fence and our chain link fence. It has, over the years, bent the chain link fence and pushed the bottom out ever so slightly. It is just enough for Sadie to get between the two fences.
This was a problem.
The chain link fence has points at the top and is just tall enough that I couldn’t reach over to get Sadie. Not to worry – Rachel came out with dog treats and Sadie found her way back into our yard.
The next day Sadie taught Bella her new trick. I guess we’ll be buying lots of dog treats until we can get the fence fixed.
Our younger daughter came home for Easter. While she was here we went dress shopping – that seems to be the norm for home visits. We were looking for a blue dress for a concert at her school. After much looking and trying on we were successful.
But more exciting was the shirt I found for me:
For those who don’t know or remember, we are the proud owners of 4 long haired dachshunds (Bella, Sadie, Tucker and Coco) who have been the subject of this blog on several occasions.
Fortunately the shirt was on sale and I had a coupon because I was ready to pay full price.
I wore it to church on Easter Sunday. It may not have been a traditional, normal Easter outfit but then no one expects Chicken Wrangler Sara or anyone from Miller Farm to be traditional or normal.
Watching the chickens through my kitchen window has become a hobby of mine. Actually watching anything through my kitchen window has always been interesting.
When we lived in Mexico City, my kitchen window looked out on a busy street. I could spend hours just watching the traffic. Now I spend hours watching the chickens and the bees – who are as busy as the traffic some days.
Last week, as I was watching out the window, a shadow passed over the yard.
I thought perhaps a plane was landing in our backyard. However, within seconds, a red tail hawk came into view, a new threat from the sky.
A magnificent creature soaring through the sky. But it preys on chickens and a chicken wrangler and chicken eater are mortal enemies forever.
I turned my gaze to the chicken yard where half the chickens were under the trees on the left of the yard and the other half were out of view on the right.
They may have birdbrains, but our chickens know a threat when they see one.
This hawk sighting confirmed our suspicions about the recent disappearance of a bantam chick. Most of the chickens are too heavy to carry off, but not the bantams.
The hawk flew away, and the chickens on the left quickly ran across the yard to join the chickens on the right. Once again, they were banding together against a common enemy – this time a bird of a different feather.
Freedom, one of our first roosters, once fought off a hawk, but alas, Freedom was very loud and so had to go live in the country. Now we only have small roosters who are no match for a hawk so all the birds must run for cover.
When I went to gather eggs this afternoon, all the chickens were either in the coop or under the trees. I heard a squealing like that of car brakes, and I knew the hawk was near.
I counted the chickens. None of the smaller bantam hens were missing.
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
Anyone recognize that paragraph? I hope so. It’s the introductory paragraph to the Declaration of Independence. My fingers automatically typed those words instead of what I was meaning to say thanks to some teacher who made us memorize it and the Preamble to the Constitution.
Guess I became sidetracked by all the political ads and chatter everywhere. Today we have the option to cast a ballot for the Presidential candidate of our choice.
Now you go do the same. It’s our right and our privilege.
But I digress, the course of events that I meant to reference is that point in our lives when we recognize the time for change has arrived and we must do some personal downsizing.
No denying. All of us reach such a point sooner or later. By choice or by death.
As an antiques dealer, I’ve done enough estates – either as organizer, buyer or seller – to know that all our stuff ultimately has to go. Hearses don’t pull U-Hauls. We’re no longer an Egyptian pyramid culture where we entomb our worldly goods with us.
Recently, my husband and I returned from our vacation home and looked around at our beautiful home in the suburbs of the nation’s 4th largest city and experienced a tipping point.
We asked one another, “Why do we need all this stuff?”
The obvious answer was we don’t. For 4-5 months every year, we live in a small, small house in the Rio Grande National Forest and love every minute of it. We come back to hustle and bustle and headaches. So we asked ourselves, “Why?”
That’s when we reached the tipping point and decided to sell our house and stuff and vie for a simple life in the woods.
Our children are extremely grateful that they won’t be saddled with the grueling task after we’re gone. I think watching us disburse estates of our parents, his older sister, and our aunt and uncle convinced them it was an arduous job.
We’ve discovered a fringe benefit — seeing our children enjoy the things of their childhood and objects from our home in theirs.
That’s Chicken Wrangler Sara and her original Barbie house. She couldn’t believe we’d kept it all these years!
Our son and his son playing chess on the table where my husband and son played many a game.
This knife set (a wedding present to my husband and me) now hangs in our youngest daughter’s kitchen.
On Tuesdays, I’ll be blogging about our journey to simplify and the amazing freedom we’re finding as we turn the stuff loose. I’ll tell you how we decided what to get rid of and what to keep and how we disbursed the stuff.
Probably not every Tuesday. After all, this is a monumental task that takes time.
Plus I have another book due out this year. Gotta get in my writing time.
I missed posting an email from the Miller Farm last Friday. My week was crazy with a whirlwind trip from the gulf coast of Texas to central Illinois. Left on Thursday back home on Monday. Two thousand miles in five days!
We made the trip to take most of our antique furniture to our son. Chicken wrangler Sara and her sister helped us out by taking some furniture, too. In the grand scheme of things we have more than our fair share of stuff. Watch for coming blogs about how we’re simplifying our lives by downsizing.
While we were traveling, life on the Miller Farm had its drama too.
We are remodeling our bathroom so right now things are really a mess, and we have no shower.
Talavera sink we bought during our days as missionaries in Mexico City and granite top are set. Wall texture and painting yet to come.
We remodeled a bathroom in a different house 16 years ago and so we knew what we were in for…we thought.
We’ve discovered, with two teenagers, things work a little different. But no matter what’s going on inside the house, the chickens outside must still be let out, watered, and fed every day.
So this morning, after I swam and showered at the pool, I went to let the chickens out and discovered not one, but two quail stuck where they didn’t belong.
One was in the space where the eggs roll out of the cage in the coop. This has happened before so I was not too surprised.
Another quail was stuck in the feeder in the long cage. I have no idea how that happened.
I was able to free both quail without major trauma to them or me.
Then as I was filling the water for the cage in the coop, one of the quail got out. He was on top of the cage, which is hard to reach.
Next, the escape artist quail jumped to the ground. I shut the door to the coop (checking to make sure the string was on the inside so I could get back out) and trapped him.
Unfortunately when trying to put him back in the quail cage, he escaped again. At last sighting, he was hanging out on top of the cage. He must think he is a chicken, which is fine with me.
I figure the worst case scenario is he joins the other quail, who thinks he’s a chicken, that hangs out in the chicken yard all the time.
Score one for Chicken Wrangler Sara.
YOUR TURN: Made any whirlwind trips or chased down escape artists this week?
I love my chickens and my chickens love me – especially when I feed them.
I was checking for eggs in the nest boxes this morning when one of the black hens started moving hay from one next box to the other. I guess she is the designated interior decorator.
Meanwhile, Essie (short for Survivor Girl from the Christmas Eve massacre at Barneyville) follows me around the whole time I am in the chicken yard.
In fact, I have accidentally stepped on her before. That hasn’t stopped her. Anyway, she hopped up on the door to the nest boxes and watched the redecorating process.
She is the only chicken we have who will let you pet her. I guess I now understand how people can have pet chickens. But, she’s not coming inside. Already tried that with Einstein and look where it got him.
I know that is shocking to you, but this made me think of a song.
I have a chicken my chicken loves me I feed my chicken on tender leaf tea My little chicken goes bak bak bak My little rooster goes cockle doodle doodle
doodle doodle doodle do.
Anyone else remember that one?
I did remember the song, but had no idea who wrote it or when. After a quick Google search, I discover Arkansas folk singer named Almeda Riddle (1898-1986) was the first to publicly sing “My Little Rooster.”
Also known as Granny Riddle, her acapella recording of the song appears on the 1997 cult film “Gummo.” If you’d like a listen click below:
If you’ve got a preschooler or kindergartener, gather them up to the computer screen and have a watch of this more pleasant sounding variation. They’ll love it.
Chicken Wrangler Sara isn’t singing, though it could be her. She is a professional musician and music teacher. It’s exactly the sort of thing she’d do.
Well, on second thought, maybe not. She’d probably bring Essie so the kiddos could pet a real chicken and sing!
YOUR TURN: I’m sure we have you humming the “I love My Rooster” tune by now. If you don’t have a rooster or a chicken or a pig or a cow or a …, what would you substitute for rooster in the song?
No recipes or no recommendation for the best fast food restaurant serving chicken nuggets.
Although if you’re ever in South Fork, Colorado, I do highly recommend the chicken strips at Rockaway Cafe & Steakhouse.
Rockaway is a small family owned business with a casual atmosphere. Reminiscent of eating in someone’s home. John handpicks the fresh chicken breasts and carefully breads with his secret recipe.
You’ll love ‘em. We do.
But back to the Miller Farm.
Today our resident chicken wrangler is sharing some observations and a follow-up on last week’s acrobatic chicken.
The follow-up first – Butterscotch, the acrobatic chicken, seems to have recovered nicely. I had intended to clean her hurt foot every morning but I have yet to be able to catch her. Since she is moving faster than I am, I would say she is doing pretty well.
Observations on the concept of pecking order…
We have introduced new chickens into our flock on several occasions. Usually we have a group of birds that have gotten large enough to move outside but are still somewhat smaller than our mature hens, putting them on the bottom of the pecking order.
One evening I noticed that there was some “discussion” about who got to roost on a particular perch. Little Grey Hen come running out of the coop then she ran back in.
I heard all kinds of noise and saw that a smaller black bird was trying to roost on the end where Little Grey Hen usually sleeps. She would have none of that and before I (or the smaller hen) knew it, the black hen was on the ground and Little Grey Hen was back on her perch.
My first thought was “They all rolled over and one fell out.” (from the song Ten in the Bed).
Thoughts on hatching…
We have an assortment of fowl (chickens and quail) in the brooder in the garage. They hatched over a period of two days.
The last chicken to hatch seemed to have its shell stuck to its back side. We left it alone for a while, knowing that the struggle to get it off was making the bird stronger.
At a certain point, however, we could stand it no longer, and I held the bird while Rachel carefully cut away the shell which was hanging on by a thread.
We added the chicken sans the large chunk of hanging shell to the brooder where its feathers were able to dry and the last tiny bits of the shell came off.
I thought about parenting – sometimes we have to help kids get completely out of their shell so they can begin their own life.
The baby quail in the brooder nearly drove me nuts. They started sleeping on their sides with their feet stretched out making them look dead.
I guess I opened the cage and woke them up enough times that they decided if they wanted to get any sleep at all, they’d better sleep on their feet like fowl are supposed to do.
I’m definitely getting more sleep as well.
Sara, the Chicken Wrangler, observed that a chicken’s process of hatching is like watching our children growing up. We need to help them out of their shells before they can begin their own life. Seems to me, that’s what writers do for their protagonists. We help them out of their shell. The literary term is character arc.
YOUR TURN: Do you see your child or your main character’s growth as hatching out of a shell?