Since becoming a mother to Americauna chickens in April, I have often questioned the wisdom of my little foray into keeping livestock. To this day I have no idea what 4-H stands for, and I remember (not that long ago) scoffing at the absurd notion of keeping chickens, undoubtedly while primping the knot on my Hermes scarf.
What I thought would be just a quaint little experiment turned into a great deal of work and a roller coaster of emotions that I never would have imagined could be inspired by a flock of silly birds. From raising our teeny chicks under a heat lamp in a gerry-rigged, predator proof horse trough, to braving the drive to the crazy chicken coop man, and building a chicken run, My Beloved and I were exhausted. On more than a few occasions I caught him giving me “the look,” but lucky for me, My Beloved can be a patient man.
As the weeks and months passed, I found myself becoming attached to these smelly, skittish, puffy cheeked, little mess makers. I took pride in watching my girls grow into lovely young ladies. In time I noticed however that one of the girls was getting much bigger than the others and that strangely, her feathers were much more colorful.
I passed these facts off as merely a breed variation. Then, one morning the chick we called “Mama Hen,” started crowing. I immediately Googled “crowing hens,” and discovered that some dominant hens crow. Whew! Thank heaven for the infallible oracle of the internet, I thought. So what if Mama Hen was a little butch? Who am I to judge? Unconvinced, My Beloved made a valiant attempt to wrench me from my cocoon of denial with an eye-rolling, “Babe, Mama Hen is a dude.” For weeks I refused to believe it. How could this happen? Fearing that I would end up giving this chicken a gender complex, I realized I had to get a grip. My Mama Hen was a rooster. To honor My Beloved Marine and to celebrate Mama Hen’s masculinity, Mama Hen was re-Christened, “Chesty Pullet.”
Then tragedy struck our chicken run. A neighbor’s dog who often wandered onto our property and whom we once lovingly referred to as “The Husky Girl,” brutally betrayed us. One morning, I walked out to the run and saw The Husky Girl hiding underneath the tractor which was parked a few yards from the run. I thought nothing of it until I got closer. I saw the corpse of one mangled hen, headless and mercilessly yanked partially through the fence. When I entered the run I saw that it wasn’t just a single hen that had been murdered, there were 3 other victims. 4 HEADLESS CHICKENS. I was immediately overcome with frightening melange of horror and rage. Tunnel vision led me to the compound of our negligent neighbors. As I stood in their driveway, an impressively shrieked chain of expletives flew from my lips. The woman that came to the door wasted no time in getting her Jeffrey Dahmer dog off our property. Leaving a trail of F-Bombs, I made my way home and got to the task of disposing of the bodies. We retooled our run and made it the Chicken Fort Knox it is today.
Tonight, all of our hard work and moments of despair were rewarded. Our girls got to work weeks earlier than expected! When My Beloved went out to check on them, he found 5 gorgeous blue-green eggs and presented me with the tangible rewards of our labor.
Was it worth the work, expense, and heart wrenching lessons to have our own Ranch Fresh organic eggs? Hell yeah.
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