Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Just Us Chickens

This silly saying has been in my family for as many years as I can remember. Whenever anybody walks into the house and yells, "Anybody home?", you always call back, "Just us chickens!" (What the heck does that mean?)

After being cooped up (pun intended) all winter in their chicken house and attached solarium, our chickens seem happy as could be to be allowed out every day in the big, fenced poultry yard. Rain or shine, they'll be out. The fencing includes a small pond and although I can't say the chickens enjoy the pond as much as the ducks and geese do, they do wander down there to look for yummy worms and bugs along the water line and will even occasionally take a drink.

They're in a big enough area that they have lots of green grass at all times along with shade trees to snuggle under for an afternoon nap. There's even a pile of black dirt where they love to go for dust baths.

If predators of the flying kind (we have a lot of hawks at certain times of the year) appear, they quickly run for cover in the little patch of dense woods or can duck into the chicken house which has the door open all day, mainly for ventilation.

Each night all the poultry is closed into their respective enclosures to keep them safe from predators including night-hunting owls. Although the electric fencing of the whole area seems to do a fairly good job of keeping most four-footed varmints out, occasionally we have seen evidence of something getting through.

We have a covered stainless steel pail that I keep by the side of the sink in the kitchen and all "chicken scraps" go into it to be fed to the poultry each day. Usually it contains some pretty good stuff and lots of feathered bodies come running when they hear the side door open and know the pail of goodies is coming out.

Even though they have access to the pond for water, Roy always rinses out and refills their water pans a couple of times each day. (He's a good chicken farmer.)

There's something very relaxing about taking the time to stop and watch a yard full of chickens (ducks and geese, too, of course). Talk about knowing how to live in the moment. They've got that down pat. But then, these feathered friends on our homestead have a fairly cushy existence . . . and I think they know it.


RuthieJ said...

I used to work for some people who had chickens and it was always fun when they'd let them out to scratch around in the yard and gardens. Do you clip their wings so they don't try to fly away or are they just happy to stay inside the fence?

Mama Pea said...

Hi, Ruthie - No, we've never had any trouble with our chickens trying to "fly the coop." (Haha.)

During certain times of the year, we have lots of wild Mallards landing on our pond, and coming right up and eating the grain and food we have out for our poultry, and we've often wondered if we would see our domestic ducks decide to fly off with the Mallards. But, so far, so good. I guess the flying instinct must be bred out of them.