Sunday, July 5, 2009

Flew the coop

So out here in the country we take our excitement where we can get it.  Those who follow my blog, or even those who drop in occasionally looking for stories about the life of a freelance artist and maybe some recent nice paintings, know that I have a small flock of chickens who are apparently my main source of entertainment.  I try not to talk too much about them, but there are two recent tales that beg telling, and I also promised Werner and Rob that there'd be some good reading on here tonight.

Story 1: A few days ago I drove back into my driveway, and the girls came waddling down to greet me as usual.  I think this is pretty funny, so I usually encourage this behavior with a handful of corn.  I went over to the feedbag, in an old beat-up metal trash can, and grabbed a handful of corn to scatter.  Then I reached in again, and instead of corn, much to everyone's surprise I grabbed a chipmunk.  

Story 2: The original flock of six hens has dwindled to four (Gladys disappeared, Dorothy faded away and eventually had to be dispatched by my farmer boy housemate...leaving Martha, Clara, Ruth and Ethel), so I decided to get two more to round out the number again.  A friend at the farmers' market had extra, so she offered to bring me a couple of hens in exchange for some notecards.  Hurrah for the barter system!  

Susan brought two lovely Silver-Laced Wyandotts to me at market in a pet carrier, and I brought them to their new home on Saturday.  Now, Saturday was an extremely busy day at the market, the Fourth of July and nice weather and TONS and TONS of people....we looooove profitable days like that at market, but I was absolutely reeling from the crowds and from talking to too many people, completely knackered.  I wanted to shut the new girls in the coop for a few days so they knew where home was, so my plan was to pop them in the coop and then go take a big fat nap.  But I reached into the carrier to grab a chicken, and she pecked me!  A-ha, I said, I'll just take the top off the carrier and pick them up and pop them in the coop that way, and go on with the nap plan!  However, when I took the lid off, instead of sitting docilely and waiting to be installed in the coop, they flew out in a big flurry and headed for the piney woods.  I started to chase them, yelling unpleasant things about chickens, and of course they just went deeper into the bushes.  I threw out some corn (sans chipmunks) which got their attention for a minute but didn't really lure them back.  My housemate and her baby came out to join the fun.  After a little while of this, being so tired and grumpy and now covered in bits of the piney woods, I decided to just leave them be...they knew there was corn to be had, and anyway chickens always calm down when it gets dark and perhaps I could do the scoop-and-install plan when they were asleep.

Chickens are not very smart, but they ARE concerned about their self-preservation.  In the end, they both settled nervously into the coop all on their own at dusk, and one of them laid an egg.  The original flock was a little nervous too, but this morning all seemed fairly peaceful if a little extra raucous.  This afternoon they were all sticking fairly well together, checking out the compost and the birdfeeder...but still eyeing each other skeptically as you can see from the photo.  It will be interesting to see how they settle themselves out, and who will become alpha.  They are provisionally named Mildred and Agnes.


Farmer*swife said...

This is adorable!

Love 'the Girls' -- You and Gary, and Lis make me want to come to Ithica. It sounds so devine!

And, the market sounds enticing too!

Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

Those are some gorgeous chicks alright.

TheColorTree said...

How exciting! If you love a chicken, let her go....

Thanks for the entertainment!

Cloudbuster said...

OMG... I love your chicken names! So Biblical. It's somehow all so very appropriate, considering the hell they put you through! I'm glad the story ended on a happy note, although the image of you chasing through the woods after chickens who have literally flown the coop is priceless.


Christi said...

The chickens are named after my grandmothers and great-aunts. They sure don't name 'em like that anymore.

Farmer*swife, you SHOULD come visit Ithaca! Don't forget Ben lives here too!

DADNMOM said...

Mom said that they should be called:

WY and DOT!!!!!!