Last year I was really wanting to add two more chickens to our flock. We have 4 chickens and they each lay about an egg a day. I figured if I could get 6 chickens then they would produce enough eggs for me to share with the neighbors more frequently. I wanted mature hens though. I am over raising chicks.
For whatever reason, I had a hard time finding any available chickens. About two weeks ago, my friend Alicia, called to tell me her neighbor has hens available for sale. I was so excited! I told her I definitely wanted two and by that afternoon my little flock was complete!
Our two new ladies were named Betsy and Maude. Betsy is a sort of marbled red hen and Maude is a lovely black and white. I don’t know how I came up with these names. They just are who they are.
The original four hens were not very welcoming. There is a pecking order in the hen yard and these girls were going to be placed at the bottom. Betsy, however, has seemed able to handle her own. I’ve seen Penny take a few pecks at her and she’s dished it right back. Very proud of that one!
After the girls were settled into the hen yard, I fed my family and we all retired to the basement for a movie. Part way into the movie, Man got up and went upstairs. He had apparently heard something going on outside, because next I heard him yelling at Sasha, our Golden, and going out into the yard. I went up to see what was going on and found Man rescuing Maude from Sasha’s jaws.
I was LIVID! I was so angry with Sasha. Despite Maude being up in Man’s arms, Sasha kept jumping up to try and snatch her. I grabbed her by the collar and yanked her into the house, scolding her the whole way.
When Man returned, he informed me that Maude was fine.
“A few seconds later and Sasha would’ve been biting into her. As it is, she’s just been plucked bare but she’s fine.”
“I’m going to have a look,” I said, rising from the couch to head out.
“No. I’ve put her in the coop with out the other hens so she can be alone. She needs to rest. You can check her out in the morning.”
The next morning I jumped out of bed and into my Uggs and headed straight to the coop. Maude’s beautiful salt and pepper gown was now open back. Her flesh was exposed and scabbed from the plucking. It’s funny because plucked chicken looks like what you buy from the market. I had an urge to put her in the freezer. Chicken meat can’t just be sitting out in the sun! I knew that was silly though and then started to worry about sunburn…
Maybe she needs sunblock…
This train of thought got me thinking to other weather that she would soon be exposed to. Winter will be here before we know it. We don’t use a heating lamp in our coop. The hens fluff up there feathers and warm themselves. Aiding in that prevents them from producing the extra feathers needed to stay warm so I don’t help and just let nature do it’s thing. But what about Maude? I did some research (Google) and it could take up to a year for her feathers to come in. Not good. Though she looks like she should be preserved in the freezer, the cold would actually be very bad for her.
“I’m going to buy her a little dog sweater or something,” I told Man. “I wonder if there are clothes for chickens…I bet money that there is!” I got on Google again and sure enough, pictures of chickens in beautiful little sweaters popped up all over my screen!
“Man! There ARE sweaters! Look at these. Oo! Here’s one on Etsy for $14.”
“Dear Lord…” he prayed out loud as he rolled his eyes to Heaven.
Later I shared the chicken sweater plan with Caren.
“There are even little knit hats!” I squealed.
“Oo! You know who could probably make those? Victoria. She knits!”
I then searched for a chicken sweater pattern and then sent it to Victoria via text.
“Is this something you could make?” I asked.
She was certain she could. I knew she would give it a shot but she’s also a very busy woman and I did not expect to see the sweater until January or February. I figured I would just buy one on Etsy. Before I could even browse my options there, Victoria had already whipped up a beautiful purple and lavender sweater for my sweet little Maude! I love it! We also talked about the hats. I really think those would be fabulous. Not only would the ladies look so gosh darn stinkin cute but then I wouldn’t have to worry about putting Vaseline on their combs in the winter. (The combs are the red things on their heads and they can get frostbite, turn black and fall off. Not cute.)
Victoria had brought the sweater to a BBQ we had last week. Everyone loved the sweater and also thought I was a total loon. I had to see how she’d look in it and immediately went to the hen yard to put it on her. It took a few minutes for me to catch her but then I grabbed her by her feet and let her hang upside down. This sort of hypnotizes chickens. While she hung upside down, a friend helped me slip the sweater over her head and to pull her wings through. She looked glorious! The purple really pops against her black and white markings. I sent a picture of Maude in her sweater to Sissy.
“Victoria may be crazier than you,” she said.
“Oh she totally is.”
“Victoria, you should do some in fall colors and things for the holidays!” Caren suggested. Victoria agreed. *squeal!*
I wanted to see how Maude looked while walking around with the other hens, let her show it off a bit. After a few snuggles I let her down into the yard. I think Maude really did feel good in her sweater. She seemed to be holding her little chicken head a little higher than she had since her humiliating plucking. She took a strut or two but then her claw got caught in the front of the sweater.
“Oh no! Maude!” I cried as she summersaulted across the yard.
Maude tried to right herself but her foot was caught and she took another header! I quickly scooped her up and freed her from the sweater. Poor Maude! Ever since she’s arrived here it has been nothing but humiliations galore!
Luckily, Victoria had made the sweater with adjustable buttons so I can make her sweater to fit more snug and she should be able to walk with out getting caught in the excess.
“I noticed her bare little bum is exposed as well…” Victoria said last night. “Maybe I should make this next one a little longer in the back?”
“Oh yeah…you could sort of add a train…” I suggested.
Maude has had a rough start but she will soon be the belle of the ball here on my funny farm. I just know it!