Meet Lucy and Ethel

by Lori Dwyer on January 11, 2012 · 20 comments

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.

Meet Lucy…

…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.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Purple Gin January 17, 2012 at 9:03 am

I know this is several days…post, but this video reminded me of your little chicken adventure. And it's cute!;=player_embedded


Danielle January 16, 2012 at 6:33 pm

Hey Lori,
Congrats on your new girls :) To help them on their way, add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to their water when you change it and also one Berocca tablet into 2 liters of their drinking water once a week will see them well on their way! Good luck,


hekates January 13, 2012 at 5:26 am

Keep the chickens away from tomato foliage! It can kill them if they eat it as we learned from bitter experience.
And enjoy! We have 4 chickens, who are lazy ladies at the moment because of the short days.


Karen January 12, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Yea! Welcome home, new jellybean family members! I miss being able to buy fresh, 'home-grown' eggs from last year's school bus driver.


Cassondra January 12, 2012 at 6:25 am

When I was a kid living in Atlanta with a postage stamp sized yard, we had chickens. We also had VERY tollerant neighbors! My mom was a biology teacher and thought it would be a good idea for us to build an incubator, hatch eggs (from my grandparents' farm) and raise chickens. About a quarter of the eggs hatched and we had chickens, and eggs in Atlanta for 6 months to a year or so.

For the record, chickens do fly if you don't clip their wings (a traumatic experience for all). Chickens are also very stupid and will stick their heads out of the pen to have them eaten off by wild animals (we think it was a fox) so you find the body of a chicken, neck through fence, missing head in the morning. Don't assume that the barking dogs will dissuade them. We had barking dogs on two sides and it dissuaded neither chickens nor fox.

Anyway, we shared eggs with the neighbors which probably made them much more tolerant of the one rooster that crowed in the morning. Eventually my parents (who both grew up as farmers and didn't particularly sympathize with our petting the chickens) decided it was time to stock the freezer, so we had headless chickens running around the back yard, and then chickens in the freezer.

My mom says that for months after that if my sister and I were around when she was cooking dinner she'd pull out a store bought chicken. If we weren't around she'd pull out one of our pets.


Canadian In Glasgow January 11, 2012 at 11:03 pm

I always wanted to keep chickens…seems I'm doomed to keep living in cities where I can't though.


Anonymous January 11, 2012 at 10:59 pm

Just another comment to say cooks go back in their pen at dusk mostly. But if you're worried either throw a towel over them to catch them or herd them back in with the broom…I have four very old chookies -too old for eggs now so just very spoilt pe


Melissa January 11, 2012 at 10:34 pm

Love. Love. Love the chickens! I'm so jealous – someday I hope to have a few of my own :)


Claire January 11, 2012 at 9:40 pm

How cool! I would love to have chickens, but London doesn't really lend itself to them!


Belinda January 11, 2012 at 7:49 pm

I love my girls, They are my pets.
Mine are gold laced wayandottes.
I'm sure Lucy and Ethel will be fat and healthy in no time.
My girls put themselves to bed just before dusk. All I have to do is go and lock the door on the coop.
Chickens are smart they will know when its time to go to bed :)
Congrats and may they bring you many hours of enjoyment and many yummy eggs :)


The Girl January 11, 2012 at 7:08 pm

I love rescued chooks. They are so soothing to be around. Congratulations on your new little friends. :)


Karyn January 11, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Our first chooks were rescued from a battery too – it's amazing watching them learn to be chooks! The sounds chooks make is so, so relaxing … enjoy your girls, may they give you many years of comfort (and eggs!)


Anonymous January 11, 2012 at 3:44 pm

I love my chooky gerls – they are awesome! Ours free range all the time. They go back in the shed at night. You'll probably find that if you leave the door to the coop open they'll take themselves off to bed at dusk


wendy mathers January 11, 2012 at 3:18 pm

yes chooks fly…mine fly up into the trees and sleep :)

But they are super cool pets , they eat everything so you have no waste and the eggs are just delish :)


Missy January 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm

That's so awesome! Ive been trying to convince my hubby to let me have a chick for years. Perhaps, I'll send him this link as a not-so-subtle prod. You never cease to inspire me.


Miss Pink January 11, 2012 at 11:53 am

Chickens fly. Boy they fly. Our chicken coop is 2 metres tall and our chicken gets out on a daily basis. It has flown over my head numberous times.
Chickens fly.

Since Michael decided he was infact a he we've been in the market for a couple more chooks to keep Jackson happy. Jackson isn't laying yet and Mr Black has threatened to turn him into a roast chook.

I have to agree about the sustainability cycle thing. It's pretty awesome. Chook poo is great fertilizer for your veggies too!


connieemeraldeyes January 11, 2012 at 10:16 am

I would love to have chickens. They eat your scraps. I used to drive by this house in Tennessee and they had chickens running around the yard with no fence. I guess they never left. I wonder if you can clip their wings so they can't fly off. I think it is great that you got chickens.


Anonymous January 11, 2012 at 9:09 am

Thanks for introducing us! And the names suit them just fine…

Can't wait to see how it goes – and I would have LOVED to watch that chicken catching, or trying thereof…!



Lyndal January 11, 2012 at 8:44 am

oh, lori this is awesome! I love the names too :)


Mrs Woog January 11, 2012 at 2:32 pm

I would LOVE to get a chook! Lucky you x


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