Poor Easter. Who knows what goes on in a chicken’s head. Though they are bird-brained I will tell you this: they have memory. Prior to The Massacre, Easter was one of my bolder chickens. I would sit in the coop to just watch them peck about and Easter would come up to me and peck my painted toes. It never hurt. I think it was just her way to tease me. If she really minded me being there the pecks would be relentless. Easter was usually the first one to the door of the coop when I would come to open it in the morning. She liked to be the first one out.
Since watching the murder of her coop-mates and narrowly escaping death herself, Easter has become more timid. In the mornings, she peers cautiously from the roost before descending to the lower level of the coop. I opened the door of the coop the first day and she carefully crept out, had a brief look around with some small cheeps and then went back into the coop. I kept the door closed and let her stay “in” the rest of the day. New coop-mates would have to be purchased. Chickens are social creatures and Easter would not do well alone.
That afternoon the boys and I visited Fiona’s Funny Farm. It is a little farm just a few blocks from the boys’ school. We had no idea it was there but a quick Google search and I found them. They had chicks for sale as well as more mature, 8 week old chicks; which were about the age of the ones we lost. Fiona’s place is beautiful! Her log home sits on a beautifully manicured and landscaped yard. The chicken run is AMAZING! It’s huge and has chain link on all sides including on top. It’s very solid and secure. (I took lots of pictures to show Man.) She said her chickens have only ever died of old age. They used to have a grey fox that would sleep outside of the door of the hen yard every morning. She also has ducks and geese in the run. I’ve recently read that certain male ducks and geese are great for protecting your chickens from weasels because they will beat the living tar out of them. Maybe they are working for Fiona to protect them from the foxes too. Not that a fox couldn’t take out a duck but maybe he is no match for multiple ducks…. Something to consider.
The boys and I entered the bird fortress and “Fiona” (that’s not really her name) told us about the different hens she had available. Her daughter brought us one of the new hatchlings to see as well. They are called Davey Crockets because they have this tuft of fluff on the top of their heads! They were so cute! If we ever get some of those we will name one Elvis because the chicks look like they have a big feathery pompadour on their heads like Vegas Elvis.
The boys and I considered the different breeds and then picked out the three we liked best.
“I like this orange one,” I told her. Fiona reached down, grabbed the chicken by her legs and held her upside down. “Oh my gosh! What are you doing there?!” I asked her with alarm. I always tell the kids to be so careful with the hens because they feel so light and fragile and here was this woman man-handling them.
“It puts them to sleep,” she said. Sure enough the chicken struggled and squawked for just a few seconds and then just hung there while all the blood rushed to its little head. Buddy picked a beautiful black and copper flecked chicken and Bug found one that looked a lot like a pheasant. Fiona grabbed each one in turn by its legs and hung them upside down. Here was this petite and gorgeous woman with chickens hanging from her fists. Two in one hand and one in the other. I guess I looked rather alarmed because she laughed at me and said, “You are hilarious! You’re cracking me up.”
We put our new chickens into the crate I had brought from home. They soon started to cheep and move about once they had been set upright.
“Very interesting…” I muttered. Fiona laughed again. She also told me that when the comb on the top of their head is big and red, they are ready to lay.
“Something to do with the hormones, ” she said.
“I’m going to be calling you. You are a wealth of information!”
Buddy and Bug wanted to see the rest of the farm and so we took a quick tour and met Fiona’s pigs…
“We just sold their piglets yesterday. It’s too bad you missed them. They were so CUTE!”
…her two horses, 7 goats…
“We are selling two of the goats. The little brown one and Hopscotch.”
“Mom…I bet you can’t resist…” Buddy teased.
“Your father would LOVE to have goats! He’s talked about it since he was a freshman in college.”
“They are great pets!” said Fiona.
“Man can’t have goats until he can handle chickens,” I told her.
“Agreed!” she laughed. “That’s how we started. Chickens first and then the next thing we knew we had goats, pigs, horses and today I’m meeting a man to buy two of his pregnant cows.”
Shalah, if you are reading this, calm down. We are not getting “started” on a farm. There will be no horses, cows or pigs on my property. I don’t want to care for any animals that are bigger than me. Well….I have Drake but when he’s on all fours it does not seem like he’s so big. I can not promise that we will never buy goats because, as I said before, it is a dream of Man’s. Strange as that may be. The only farm I will be a part of is the Funny Farm that you and I will spend our last days in.
We bid farewell to Fiona and thanked her for all of her information and for our chicks. We paid for them and she threw in a dozen eggs, mixed chicken and duck!
Once home we brought The Replacements into the hen yard. I first let Easter out of her coop and then I opened the crate with the chicks. Easter came out, curious as to who these new ladies were. The other three checked out the new yard and coop but kept some distance from Easter at first, as did she from them. Soon everyone was more comfortable with one another. I took some pictures of The Replacements and tried to get a shot of Easter. Every time I’d raise the camera though she would be startled and would run off. She can no longer handle any sudden movements. No more coming to see me while I sit on the floor of the yard. No more teasing pecks at my toes. It’s so sad.
The boys named the new chickens.
“I’m going to call mine Eric II,” Buddy said misty eyed.
“No. We are starting anew,” I insisted. “I don’t want them to all be seconds of the previous flock. Be creative! Come on!”
Bug could not decide if he should name his chicken Angel or Gina. They sound like strippers or Mafia Princesses. I tried to encourage him to go for more “chicken-y” names like Ginger or Henrietta but Angel won out. Caren’s youngest daughter named the one that I had picked out, Helen. I like that one. Buddy finally christened his Penny. I like Penny too! Great chicken names!
This morning begins our 2nd full day with The Replacements. Easter has shared her bunk with these gals for two nights. I came out with their fresh feed. When I got to the coop the girls all came down from the roost and huddled by the door. I set the feed down and got a rock to prop open the coop door. As I did, I noticed Easter working her way to the front of the crowd. Once again, she was the first one out.