Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Where Do Old Horsewomen Go?

Why, out to check the chickens, that's where.

No, I don't have horses anymore. *sigh* Yes, I do have chickens.

Do they take up as much time as horses? Almost.

This morning, quite early, I let the big hens out of the hen house, turned the heat lamp on for the mama and babies and opened the divided hen house so they could have access to the whole thing until it warmed up above 45 degrees outside. At which point, I went back outside, let them out into their outside pen (with access to their heat lamp if they want it) fed and watered them and pulled them some green grass to eat. Then I fed our laying hens, which mostly free range, but who I try to keep inside for a few hours until they lay in their nesting boxes.

Dory, a Silver-Gray Dorking, who loves to hide her eggs

But of course our renegade chicken (Dory) snuck out between my legs, because she likes to lay her eggs in the blackberry bushes.

And true to form, before I could even turn around and follow her, Dory had skedaddled down the driveway and into the bushes, where we've searched for the last half hour without finding her or her eggs. Silly hen.

A friend was over the other night, for dinner and wine, and he remarked, "Linda, your thing is really Animal Husbandry, isn't it?" Bingo. Although I'd prefer to call it Animal Wifery. I really do enjoy taking care of animals, learning all there is to know about them, and providing them the best care possible, within my budget. Over the years, I've done this with not only horses, but donkeys, goats, ducks and chickens (and of course dogs and cats.) With the internet at our disposal these days, there is no reason for anyone to not be informed about the proper care of animals, because it's all right there at your fingertips, if you just take the time to search.

This is Fluffy, a Salmon Faverolle, who takes sunbaths on the concrete patio next to our dog.

In my case, I also love to gather first-hand knowledge. How long will a mama chicken stay with her babies before she gets tired of them? Do chickens prefer to roost on round roosts or square? So besides gathering fresh, healthy eggs, my chickens, each with their own distinct personalities, provide me endless hours of fun and enjoyment.

So although I miss riding (quite a little bit) I still get the satisfaction of taking care of critters, albeit smaller ones these days.

This is Elizabeth, a Black Australorp, with her four adopted chickies.

Elizabeth, pictured above, was setting on infertile eggs (we don't have a rooster, but hens still have the urge to set.) I took pity on her, and bought some just-hatched chicks at the feed store. Then I snuck them underneath her during the night. By morning, she was clucking away, thinking she had hatched her own babies.

Do you raise chickens? Do you let them free-range all over your barnyard? Do your horses like them?
Tell us!


Calm, Forward, Straight said...

I love that you snuck in the babies under your hen... so sweet. :D

I'm getting my first little chickadees in a couple of weeks. Looking forward to sharing the farm with my new "ladies".

Linda Benson said...

Calm, Forward, Straight - you will love having chickens. They are a lot of fun to have around. Let us know how you do with them, and what kind you get!

Laura Crum said...

We have banties. I used to let them out to roam the barnyard and garden every day, but we lost so many of them to bobcats, coyotes, hawks...etc, that now I only let them out on days when we are around and in the garden all day and can protect them a little. Otherwise they live in the coop/run. The horses react to them differently as per the individual horse. Twister puns his ears and chases them if they go in his corral (and I've known horses who deliberately killed chickens whenever they could), most of the horses ignore them--I one saw a rooster land on a horse's back, crow and then fly up to the roof of the barn. And the horse just stood there, unperturbed (!)

I do enjoy having chickens very much--though there is no question but that they draw predators.