It’s been a pretty full on week. It’s got to be time for some light entertainment.
It seems new life is contagious.
After getting our new kitten, it was time invest in some other new animals. Less of the cute, more of the practical. Although I have to say I’m already much more attached to these new arrivals than I thought I would be.
…and Ethel. Ethel was originally going to be named Bella, but she just doesn’t look like a Bella. Ethel suits her so much better.
We rescued Lucy and Ethel from the local battery farm for $12.50 each. They’re only twelve weeks old, so it’ll be at least another six weeks until they begin to lay eggs. That’s just fine with me. I want to get them looking a bit healthier and happier before we eat anything that they lay. (Don’t bother pointing out the irony here, I get it. I’m happy to eat supermarket eggs that come from chooks far more unfortunate than mine until mine look healthier… but hey, what are you going to do?)
These chooks are a bit skinny and lackluster. Their feathers are dull and their tiny combs are floppy. Lucy is pretty settled- has bug herself a little spot on the floor of their coop to fluff herself up in and relax- but Ethel is not cool. She’s squawky, nervous and fluffs her feathers up in fright. As I said, I’m more attached to these chickens then I expected- they feel less like egg machines and more like pets.
I’m trying to convince myself that a few weeks of tender loving care, some good food and the occasional free range run on the back lawn will make a world of difference to the condition of Lucy and Bella. I want to see them shiny and fat and happy. I like to heal things, to make things better… it feels like it heals me too.
Note the emphasis on ‘occasional‘ in that last paragraph. Deciding that a six foot fence, and continual barking of dogs on either side of that fence, is enough to dissuade my chooks from flying away (do chickens even actually fly, I hear you ask? I’ve heard yes, but have yet to see it for myself); I let Lucy and Ethel go free range and fancy free about a week after they first moved into the Tiny Train Yard.
They loved it. Spent the day pecking around the more shaded areas of the backyard, feeling safe and secure inside the jungle-like spread of foliage. Native lilies, freckle face trees, agapanthas, a fuchsia and an Oriental lantern tree make it cool, shady and private in that five feet between the edge of the jungle and the six foot high fence. My children spend hours traipsing through there, disguised in their own minds as tigers and snakes and Bindi goshdarn Irwin.
Lucy and Ethel love the jungle too. So much so that catching them was a near impossibility which still involved stamina, patience, athletic ability, acrobatic skills and a very good sense of fucking humour. A friend and I spent an hour chasing two squawking, stubborn chooks around the yard, with them ducking in and out of the jungle, our hands gripping the edges of feathers and slipping off scaly, alabaster legs. (“How hard can it be, to catch a chicken…?” asks the pseudo-hippy chick who is so obviously city that she can still feel the soft laughter of the chicken farmer when I replied to the question of “What color would you like?” with a baffled “They come in different colours?” Pink, perhaps…?)
Our new residents also contribute to that sustainability cycle we have going on- the chickens eat the scraps and give us eggs. The worms in the worm farm eat the chook poo. We eat the eggs, and even the shells are reused- crushed egg shells mixed with a tiny bit of salt and spread around the perimeter of the veggie garden keep slugs off the basil, tomatoes and snow peas…. which, of course, we then eat and give the scraps from them back to the chooks. It’s such an easy, productive cycle.
I’ll keep you posted on the rehabilitation and laying status of our rescued chickens. And I know, OK, I know what I’m doing here, subconsciously- growing things, healing things,making them better. Trying to do what I couldn’t, a year ago. I’m not sure it’s healthy… but for now, it’s helping.