Tag Archives: chicken culture

Thank your lucky chickens

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Well, for the most part, I don’t think that everyone would consider our chickens particularly lucky. After all, there is always the possibility of them ending up in the stew pot or worse.  Look what happened to Chat, the chicken cat, after all!  However, compared to some fates, perhaps our chickens are fortunate.  Let me tell you about our two more recent additions to the hen house.

One random afternoon, my husband was standing outside minding the goats and saw a flash of white.  He thought it might have been a rabbit, but wasn’t too sure.  Another flash and he identified the ball of feathers as a chicken.  Ever so discreetly, he opened the gate to the animal corral and backed away.  Zoop, zoop, there was a mad dash and a scruffy white hen ran in.

I’m not kidding when I said scruffy.  Compared to our hens, she was downright embarrassing.  A street orphan, maybe.  It’s hard to say where she came from.  The cow barn guy has chickens.  The borrega guy has chickens.  The horse guy has chickens.  Even the chicken feather guy has chickens.  In fact, that’s probably where she came from.  The chicken feather guy (so named because he throws piles of chicken feathers in random spots in La Yacata) raises pigs for carnitas.  He also has chickens for butchering.  I don’t know what he feeds the chickens, but the pigs get the chicken intestines.  Maybe he lets them dig through the pig poop?  Anyway, life on the Flores mini-ranch has to be better than looming death at the hands of the chicken feather guy.

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It took some time for Little White Hen to establish herself in the pecking order.  Her place was substantially improved when little black hen joined the brood.

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Little Black Hen was a rescue chicken.  Literally.  My husband rescued her from the jaws of a stray dog.  Talk about a lucky break! Of course, she was traumatized and spent considerable time hiding in various locations throughout the animal area, mostly hiding from Little White Hen who was eager to establish dominance.

So how have these adopted ladies repaid us? EGGS! And for that, we thank our lucky chickens! As long as they keep producing, there won’t be any need for them to worry about that dang stew pot.  White Rooster, however, is looking mighty tasty!

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Chat–The Chicken Cat

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Meet Chat, the chicken that thinks she’s a cat.

She has repudiated all chicken activities. She doesn’t scratch. She doesn’t roost. She doesn’t cluck. She doesn’t lay eggs.

She comes when I call Kitty, Kitty. She makes herself comfortable at night among the cats on the steps, actually sleeping with them. She marches inside to be fed. She allows herself to be petted. I won’t say that she purrs, but she seems quite happy with the attention.

The cats have accepted her presence and allow her idiosyncrasies as good friends should.

Yesterday, Devil, Licky, Angel, and Tiger went out hunting as all cats do. Being cats, they scaled the wall, slipped through the fence or climbed onto the roof to reach the great beyond. Chat does not have the same abilities and had, up until yesterday that is, stayed within the borders of the Flores mini-ranch.

Yesterday, the front gate was open and Chat made good her escape, probably thinking to follow her friends in a little hunting expedition.

And that was the end of Chat, the chicken that thought she was a cat.

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So why did the chicken cross the road?

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Why did the chicken cross the road?

I expect to escape from being eaten.

My husband likes to reminisce sometimes about how when he was young, and there wasn’t enough for his ten brothers and sisters and him to eat.  Being determined not to go hungry, he would do some chicken hunting.  Most of the chickens he hunted were from his Tio Tomas (Uncle Tom) and boy did they sure taste good.  He tells this story at least once a month, mostly to impress upon our son the sinfulness of wasting food, especially chicken.  Of course, the story ends with him being caught by Tio Tomas and receiving the whipping of a lifetime.

chicken corral

Our current enclosure for ducks, chickens, and quails

Chickens were one of the first animals we incorporated into our mini-farm. They don’t need fancy housing, they can forage for their own food, lay eggs, and can be eaten.

Most of the chickens were little red hens, just like the story. But one hen of our hens was brown and white speckled, and that made all the difference. We named her Penny, like in Henny Penny and the sky is falling down. Not one of the red hens liked her. They pecked her. They chased her away from the feed and water. They wouldn’t let her sleep on the roost. Just like a bunch of old biddies. So she became a bit of a loner, doing her own thing.

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Penny is the light colored hen in the back.

This changed when Rocky the rooster came along. He was a spare rooster, as there was already Blackie the rooster to do the morning wake up call and ruffle the hens and make the egg announcements to the world. So Rocky and Penny were put together to keep each other company. Both being outcasts, they joined forces. Penny started laying eggs again. Rocky did his husbandly duties as any good rooster should.

But the day came when Rocky went into the soup pot. A spare rooster, after all, is redundant. Penny went into a deep depression. No kidding. She wouldn’t eat, she stopped laying eggs again, and she took shelter in a hollow pipe and wouldn’t come out. Within a week she was dead. She died of a broken heart. Chickens do have feelings. Love is not unique to humans.

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Another one of our red hens named Jovencita is our pride and joy. She is the best broody hen we have. Last year she hatched groups of chicks four times, although the last bunch died of groopers, minuscule red bugs that swarmed their little lungs. Anyway, her first batch was doing well, when all of a sudden they developed itchy sores. Would you believe it, chicken pox? The feed was fine, the area and water were clean, so how could these poor little things get sick? After doing some research in my backyard farm animal guidebook, I discovered that this type of disease could be transmitted from turkeys. There weren’t any turkeys in our yard, but the neighbor down the road had some. I suppose a wild bird stopped at the turkey guy’s feed spot and had breakfast, then headed to our feed place for lunch, unwittingly carrying the disease. So 4 out of 5 chicks died within two days, awful painful itching deaths.

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The color of the chicks seems to be dependent on the color of the rooster. These are Jovencita’s chicks to Blackie, the rooster.

One little rooster managed to survive but was horribly scarred. We named him Feo (Ugly), cuz he sure was ugly with bald patches and bumps. Being the only chick left, he had the run of the joint. Jovencita, having lost her brood, went broody again shortly after that, so Feo was left to his own devices.

Feo was fearless. He snatched food from right under the noses of the dogs. He swerved and ran to avoid pecking from the other chickens. He drank from the cat’s own water dish. We came to admire his pluck and courage. Nothing phased him. We could shoo him back into the wired enclosure, and 2 minutes later he was back out, happily strutting about. I guess having survived chicken pox he thought he was invincible.

At the time, all the chickens were kept in our walled backyard and mostly allowed to forage in the garden. But the grass is always greener they say and Feo got it into his head that there would be more succulent eats outside the fence. As he was undersized as well, he was able to slip between the gate bars into the wide blue yonder. One day, quick as a wink, as he was bravely venturing out to explore new worlds, a long, smooth, silver snake came out from under the sidewalk and gobbled him up. The race does not go to the brave, but to the swift.

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Gringa, the hen

Our latest acquisition is a gringa hen, so named because this particular type of chicken does not have feathers on its scrawny neck. It is, therefore, a “redneck” chicken. Get it? Anyway, she isn’t accepted into the established chicken society, being different and all. She waits her turn at the food dish. First, the rooster and his ladies eat. Then the broody hens and her chicks eat. Then Mr. & Mrs. Muscovy eat with their ducklings. Then the codornices (quail) eat. Finally, la gringa gets her chance. Discrimination is not confined to humans.

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