by Lori Dwyer on February 1, 2012 · 13 comments

in Uncategorized

Our chooks, Lucy and Ethel, are pretty damn awesome.

Their also… well… kind of stupid. Which is to be expected, I know, they are chickens, after all. I just wasn’t prepared for how base these animals are. They’re not like an untrainable dog of minimal intelligence. A chook’s optimum intelligence level is still quite dumb. Bless their little red comby things.

Speaking of little red comby things, I’m happy to say that Lucy and Ethel’s combs have gone from being droopy and dry and scaly to bright and upright. They are so much fatter than when we first bought them home, and their feathers are glossy and shiny. And they’re getting more and more tame and approachable. Actually, that’s where a lot of the stupid comes in.

Chooks- Stupid.

It seems that Ethel and Lucy have realized that I am the hand that feeds them. They’re not quite so hesitant near me anymore. But come morning when I go to lift them out of their coop, or evening when I assist them back in (while they get themselves back to the coop, sometimes getting in is too tricky. Because they actually forget where the entrance is. Again with the stupid); and you can see learnt logic– this women feeds us and probably will not hurt us– battling with natural instinct– RUN!!– which results in half hearted sprints away from me, and squawks somewhere between ‘distress’ and ‘we want out’. (Or in, depending. And why, yes, they make distinctively different ber–ber–ber–gerk sounds. Really).

I’ve found the easiest way to catch them is to wait until their heads are turned at an angle and their myopic, reptilian, ever–so–slightly creepy eyes can’t see me. I’ve also discovered they have memories like goldfish. I have to leave both entries to their coop open for them to put themselves to bed. Otherwise, they may just forget where one doorway is. Really. They spent three nights in a row roosting, slightly distressed, on the closed lid of one opening while the other was only centimeters away from them.

As I said… stupid. Cute, pleasant to hold now they’ve been given some TLC, and tolerant of a cuddle and a pat… but very, very stupid.

Ethel, who was the most fucked up from her time in a cage, has recovered more quickly than her chicken–sister–from–another–mother. Maybe “recovered” isn’t the correct word. Maybe it’s “broken”– so psychologically damaged she just has no fear. I understand that, too much.

But Ethel- no matter how prehistorically fearless she may first appear- is still afraid of slugs. Seriously. Not that I really blame her– the slugs we get here are leopard slugs and truly terrifying. I’ve gotten into the habit of collecting the few slugs that are silly enough to venture into my laundry at night and feeding them to the chooks the next morning.

Slugs- terrifying. Hand for scale.

The first few days I put them in the chook coop, Ethel did her best chicken scream, ruffled her feathers and backed far, far away; leaving Lucy to the fat juicy slug feast. While the slugs don’t get quite the same reaction anymore– I really should have videoed it while it lasted– Ethel is definitively not a fan of leopard slugs and keeps her distance.

I only wish I could say the same applied to the chooks and my veggie garden. In a matter of total #ChickenFail, the chooks have helped themselves to snow peas, beans and carrots; green tomatoes still on the plant; and an entire chilli plant, stem, roots and all– which, lucky for them, hadn’t fruited yet. They also seem to love marigold seeds– so much so that they can sniff them out from under three inches of soil.

So. It’s time to get a fence for the veggie garden. We still have no eggs– another week or two, surely, and why yes, I am excited. Mr Tree has taken to occasionally chasing the squawking free-rangers across the backyard; but hasn’t been fast enough to catch them yet. Beside, Ethel would fight back, and probably enjoy it.

But other than that, Ethel and Lucy fit into the Tiny Train House perfectly. And they’re doing just fine.

Eggs. Win.

Update- I wrote this post last weekend. Ethel and Lucy must have picked up on the #ChickenFail vibes, because they totally redeemed themselves by laying an egg. Yes, really.  I know. I’m excited too.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Shellye February 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm

This post was too cute! Afraid of slugs? Seriously? I never thought I'd see the day…

Doug and I used to have two chickens, one was a rooster, and the other a hen. (You can't really tell the gender when they're only baby chicks, so we didn't know what we were getting.) We kept them in the house until they lost their down and accumulated feathers (I'm allergic to birds.) I too used to have a vegetable garden, so once the chickens were outside, and I only had the one cat, I would let him sit outside while I tended the garden. The hen would sit beside me as I dug and fertilized and watered and weeded, and the rooster and the cat would chase each other! It was a hilarious sight!

Unfortunately, somebody stole the hen and the rooster. Anyway, where we live now, we can't have a chicken. It's against the city laws.


In Real Life February 3, 2012 at 4:23 am

Lucy and Ethel are beautiful chickens! I am hoping to one day have chickens! Yay an egg, that's exciting! :)


Melissa February 1, 2012 at 10:29 pm

LOL!!! this post cracked me up! "ber-ber-ber-gerk" !!! I nearly spit out my coffee laughing :)
Hooray for the egg and GAH that is the nastiest slug EVER!!!


THE Bird February 1, 2012 at 9:00 pm

About the chilli plant… I have a hand raised Quaker Parrot (I bred & hand raised this beautiful green bird- I am rather proud..), he absolutely LOVES chillies… Apparently parrots don't have the receptor that tastes the HOT in the chilli… Not sure if this is the same for chooks though…



Miss Pink February 1, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Our chicken, Jackson, runs a mile if you go near her. Unless I am opening the door to the chook pen, then she usually follows me in curiously. We had to roof our chook pen though because she kept jumping on top of her chook house and then over the fence she went. Chasing a chicken near a busy road in your jammies just isn't rating that high on my "things I enjoy" list.

The slugs are HUGE at your place, and I really need to see the slug phobia thing. It souns quite hilarious.


A Daft Scots Lass February 1, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Slugs are awful! Chickens are cool!


Toni February 1, 2012 at 3:51 pm

holy CRAP that slug is gross. I'm with Ethel.


Eccles February 1, 2012 at 2:14 pm

You've got an egg!!! You've got an egg!!! Sitting here with the silliest grin on my face!! Thinking that all you need now is a rooster & you could have chicks (I'm getting ahead of myself again) . You've got an egg!!!


Melissa February 1, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Ewww slugs! I hate slugs and am sooo glad I've never had to deal with one that big!!

Yay for the egg-laying….go girls :)


Maxabella February 1, 2012 at 11:43 am

You got an egg! Yip! x


Sam-O February 1, 2012 at 10:00 am

I need chickens to control our slugs. I've been thinking about out for ages…


Kelloggsville February 1, 2012 at 9:15 am

Congratulations! Will it be celebrated poached or fried?!


Lisa H February 1, 2012 at 9:05 am

How cool to have fresh eggs! I want chickens too. :-)


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