Sunday, January 29, 2012

Our Chickens: Feeling the community love

Our girls abscond on a daily basis.
They take a run-up, flap their clipped wings at a furious speed, and sail over the fence to the creek; they sneak through a gap in the retaining wall to our neighbour’s lush garden (with plenty of gorgeous green grass),  squeeze through loose palings and onto the road (where they’ve been found sitting, contentedly, in the warm sun), and have been found perch all-in-a-row on low branches in random trees.
With all the rain about lately, I’ve seen them huddled together in Ella’s doghouse (thankfully, without Ella in it), and standing, soaking, in the middle of the garden, staring wistfully at the sky. And it goes without saying - they take every opportunity to steal into the house, whenever the kids unwittingly leave the back door open, which results in a comical commotion of chasing and almost-catching and clucking and giggling.

There’s a layer, an almost layer, and two youngun’s who constantly jostle for a better hierarchal position in the coop, still growing their combs.
And, if you couldn’t already tell, I’m totally and absolutely in love with them.

The Coop, set in the back corner of our garden…

To love a chicken (or four chickens) is a strange thing, because before they arrived on Christmas eve, I was scared of them - and their flappy wings, sharp beaks and scratchy feet. I was absolutely convinced that they’d chase me, peck at me, and was horrified at the thought of having to actually pick them up to put them away at night. But they wormed their way into our family, with all their warbling and grazing and waddling. And in a surprisingly short time, I was in love – just like that.

What I didn’t expect though, was how accepted they’d be with neighbours and friends. Our next door neighbour talks to them when they manage to escape into her garden – I often hear her cooing to them as they strut and scratch in her lovely lush grass; another neighbour saves all her fruit and vegetable scraps, bringing them over in big plastic bags, or randomly throwing bits and pieces over the fence and into the run. Other neighbours have offered advice about compost and using chicken manure in our garden; friends have taken them onto their laps for a pat.

I admit it: I love this. Who would have known that they’d become such wonderful community pets?
Do you have chickens too?


Ps. No names yet; goodness, it’s hard finding chicken-appropriate names that everyone is happy with!


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