This past summer I participated in a farm tour through an amazing organization called Augusta Locally Grown. It had been raining off and on all day, and I was a mess from being rained on and from the stress of thinking we would get rained out. And, surprise, surprise, I found out once my tour started that I was going to be video-taped and interviewed. That sent my introverted self into panic mode, but everything went well, so for TBT, I thought I would share the video. Plus, I'm sharing it because I miss summer! Well, I don't miss the heat and humidity and mosquitoes, but the other stuff, the fun stuff. As you will see, I was by far the smallest farm on the tour. Grow where you're planted, right? Enjoy!
She's a Sicilian Buttercup, and she is wild! We got her from my father, who decided he wanted chickens a year or so ago. He loaded up on chickens and slowly, one by one, they were picked off by predators. A fox was the main culprit. They were truly yard birds in that they were never touched. Feral was the last one and she had been by herself for months. He asked us to take her in, so we did. When Nate caught her for the first time she started screaming bloody murder. She was not happy, and this went on for several minutes. We joke that some of our chickens are wild, but they are lap chickens compared to this girl.
We kept her separated for a few days until the flock got used to seeing her and stopped lining up along the run to gawk. Then we locked her up for a day with our bantam rooster, Sir Elton, and of course, they got along swimmingly. She is just his size. The next day we let her out in the yard with everyone else, and she hung around Sir Elton all day. He gave her a tour, clucked her over for juicy tidbits, and when another hen tried to pick on her, he intervened and broke it up. All that day I saw them together. That night I thought I might have to isolate her again for her protection, but when I went to lock up everyone, she was roosting on the back of one of the other hens. I guess she decided she wasn't going to take a lower rung and went right to the top. She has transitioned amazingly well into the flock. I am shocked.
This is a band of idiots! (If you click on the photo, you can see a larger version of it.)
This is a band of idiots because they are on the WRONG SIDE OF THE FENCE! They are looking at me like, "We can see the yard. We just can't get to it." Well, idiots, you can't get to it because there is a fence in the way.
Why is there a fence in the way, you might ask? Well, the chickens have free reign along the back side of our lot and the woods behind my neighbor's house. He has a fence that keeps them out of his backyard as does the neighbor on the other side of him. So, generally they stay in the woods. But, they recently discovered the neighbor diagonally behind me does not have a fence around his backyard, so they have been going to forage in his yard. It's really not a big deal to him. He doesn't care. But I care. I care because chickens do not know boundaries, and they eventually work their way up his yard and around the fence line of the neighbor directly behind me. Once they are around the side fence line, they work their way down into his yard. They forage and have a grand time over there. It's full of untapped bugs and good eatin'. However, when they are ready to head home, they congregate at the fence, ON THE WRONG SIDE. They can't figure out that they have to work themselves backwards to get home.
So, I have to work my way through Vietnam to get through the first backyard, come around the fence, and then work my way down the hill through this yard to get to them. Let me tell you pricker branches and blackberry brambles still stick in the winter. And, this yard is full of hidden holes under piles of leaves and fallen branches. I almost killed myself trying to catch them all. Rocky has nothing on me! Once caught, they were hurled gently placed over the fence and back in their own yard.
This happened a few days in a row, so I've kept them locked in the animal yard since. They are pissed at me right now and stand at the fence and scream bloody murder. Oh well, Idiots, when the scratches and puncture wounds on my legs heal, I just might open the gate again.
This is Vanilli. She is our oldest and favorite bird, and we think her head looks like an eagle, so we call her our American Bald Chicken. We bought her at the flea market years ago, and we say that is why she is such a tough bird. She is street smart and has survived multiple predator attacks over the years. She is also our stand-in rooster, crowing in the early years before we had roosters.
She is a fabulous mother, hatching out a clutch for us each year. She teaches her chicks how to forage and is very protective.
So my husband came in this morning and asked, "How many birds do we have?"
"We have 15 chickens and 4 ducks."
"Well, I counted 15 chickens, but it looks like a bird was attacked. There are chicken feathers all over the ground. They look like Vanilli's, but I just saw her."
I race out to the animal yard and start counting birds. 1,2, 3....15. 1,2,3.....15. 1,2,3......15.
"We have all of the birds, and she was in the coop last night when I put everyone up, so show me what you're talking about."
It's hard to capture it in a photo, but it definitely looks like a crime scene.
A quick scan of Vanilli shows she is missing some feathers. So, like any good blogger, I said, "While I go get the camera, catch Vanilli and let's make sure she isn't hurt."
A few minutes later, I came back out and asked, "Did you catch her?"
"I can't. She's running around the yard with a mouse in her beak, and everyone is chasing her."
"Okay, let's keep the other chickens away from her so she will calm down and we can catch her. Plus, she can enjoy her mouse if no one is chasing her. I have a feeling she's earned it."
So, we get her isolated in a protected corner and stand guard while she enjoys her breakfast. Nate picks her up at one point so we can examine her, but she was not letting that mouse go. So it came along for the ride.
And, here she is swallowing it down, like a noodle. If you click on the photo, you can see the end of it hanging out of her beak.
Thankfully, she's okay, and her feathers will grow back. I assume something attacked her at dusk last night but only managed to grab feathers. Dusk seems to be the prime time for attacks at our place. The night predators are heading out for the evening, and the birds are putting themselves up. Once they are locked in the coop, they are safe.
Oh, the things we do for our animals and the conversations we have! All's well that ends well though.