I acquired 6 chickens last spring. My girls and I had talked about it for awhile, and last year was the right time.
I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. I was excited about having fresh eggs and organic pest control (in the form of foraging chickens). I didn’t know what the chickens themselves would be like.
When we brought them home, they were so cute and fluffy. We fell in love with them instantly. Chickens grow fast, so in no time at all, their fluff was replaced with feathers. They began making clucking sounds and personalities developed. Within 4-5 months, they were laying eggs. I assumed they would lay their eggs in their hen hotel, inside their nest boxes I built. But, they had their own ideas! We found eggs in the flowerbeds and on the workbench. We let the girls do their own thing.
The chickens love it when I work in my gardens. They know what the shovel, hoe and wheelbarrow mean. The girls come running (yes, chickens run) when I walk towards the gardens. They hungrily scratch around for worms, bugs and other seemingly invisible morsels.
It didn’t take long for individual personalities to emerge. Like any group of friends, each individual has their place in the group. There is the bossy, noisy and quiet personality.
One of the most surprising facts I learned about our girls is, they talk! Now, they don’t say “How you doin’? ” or anything like that. But, they have a whole range of chirps, growls, trills, clucks and songs that have subtle meanings. They talk to each other and they talk to us. Just like we learn to interpret our dogs’ language, we have learned to interpret the chickens language, as well.
I was born a dog lover but I have a whole new appreciation for my chickens. Our chickens are pets with benefits. They will never be Sunday dinner but they will eat Sunday dinner with us. I take my lunch outside and sit on the grass. The chickens come running over to see what I have. I look around. My dogs are sitting on one side of me and the chickens are milling around me on the other side.
Friends. Life is good.