Thursday, July 21, 2011

#57 - Chicken Personalities

Life is good. Deputy Dave and I are thoroughly enjoying our first flock of backyard chickens. But, we still don't have our first egg yet. However, I am celebrating for Rae at Blissful in the Boonies (see my sidebar, bottom right for link) because she did get her first egg this week! Her post that had a picture of the egg in the palm of her hand sent my face into a wide-mouthed grin!

Anyway, life here as a suburbanite backyard farmer means that every morning I let the chickens out of the chicken tractor and give them a load of feed and attention. I walk out with a red cup full of feed and I give it a shake; this entices my feathered friends to burst out of the coop's door that I unlatch each morning. Throughout the day, I make sporadic trips outside to visit with them, usually with goodies in hand.

No egg, just a golf ball for encouragement.
I think my chickens are beautiful. Four are of the same breed and the fifth one is different...she's tiny, adorable and is white with speckles. My regular readers know that I call her, "Miss Speckles." She is sweet, less likely to peck, is always the first to approach me in a chatty mood and the last to leave my side. When I reach down to pet her, she squats and stands firm for me to softly pet her back. She is amazing and friendly and beautifully unlike anything "chickenie."

The four matching chickens are all Buff Orpingtons; they are also a friendly bunch, except for one gal I fondly refer to as Big Mama. After we found new homes for the roosters, Big Mama became aggressive and is the protector of the bunch. She's a big ball of feathered attitude. In fact, my husband refers to her as, "Miss Attitude." I walk out the back door and she charges my direction, like a bull, with her wings tucked and her head down. Sometimes, she seems so fierce that I try to picture her beefy legs as two little KFC drumsticks pounding the ground toward me, then it isn't so bad.

As you can see, there is a name-theme going along here in Texas...either your name starts with a "Miss," or "Big." My blog buddy from Midlife Farmwife (Charade) notices this theme, but she claims to have Big Daddy on her farm, so it is duly noted where Big Daddy can be found.

To my reason for this post...the one who had me laughing today is my husband, Deputy Dave. He had a stand-off with Big Mama tonight. Since Deputy Dave is the one who makes sure the chickens are safely inside their chicken tractor every evening, he gets to experience their end-of-the-day, snippy chicken personalities.

It's funny that during the simple act of making sure the chickens are put away every night there seems to be a revelation into their little chicken personalities. I never imagined chickens to have such individual attitudes and behaviors, but they are little bundles of character.

Deputy Dave walked inside after this challenging evening and he stood there telling me about everything that had happened in the span of five minutes and I was in a fit of laughter. He said that Miss Speckles decided to perch on the outside of the chicken tractor, actually on top of the tractor, unprotected. Deputy Dave went over to scoop her up. Apparently, she glanced up at him with a perturbed expression, but she didn't throw a complete hissy. She's dignified like that. With her gently cupped in his big hands, he put her inside the coop and she continued to stare him down. She would have preferred to have some time away from all the Buffs, but, oh well, safety first.

Then, Big Mama didn't want to go inside and she'd watched two other chickens go inside on their own, but she was taking her sweet time before she was going to go inside. Deputy Dave didn't have time for this, he is on a time crunch, so he squat down next to the coop's open door and as Big Mama approached him, he grabbed her and tossed her up into the chicken coop's open door. As Deputy Dave was helping; he was getting screamed at by Big Mama. She got angry and immediately raced back to the open door and jumped back down to the grass.

Apparently, she felt that she did not need any "help" with getting into the coop and was going to make it clear that she didn't appreciate his "assistance." Her feathers were ruffled into a fluff of anger and to seal her feelings on the matter, she charged Deputy Dave as he squatted and tried to peck him. I guess, as they say in Texas, Deputy Dave has made it on her "SH*T" list.

Deputy Dave assumed a standing defensive pose, ready for more attacks as Big Mama strut around with a huge attitude. She's asserting herself and making it known that she will do WHAT she wants, WHEN she wants and HOW she wants. With her position made clear, she waddled to the open coop door and jumped into the coop on her own with her chicken head held high.

Meanwhile, the last chicken left outside is kind of freaking out. She's running all over the place, trying to get home, but is confused. She's the clueless type. She runs in circles around the coop, as if she were thoroughly confused about how to get inside. She's panicked and making little distress clucking sounds, but she won't slow down. She could be a long-distance runner. At first, Deputy Dave tries to catch her, but she is all over the place and going no where in particular which makes her all the more elusive. Deputy Dave is getting frustrated and as she whizzes by for the 20th fly by, he finally gives her a name. She is now affectionately referred to as, "Miss Stupid." .

We use bamboo sticks as a Shepherd's Staff and this has truly become a comforting item to the birds. They know to follow the stick. Miss Stupid saw the stick and her bird-brain kicked into action...she suddenly found her way into the coop with its gentle guiding prompt. So sad that the kiddo can't do anything but run in circles and nearly cause herself to have a heart-attack. She's a mess. She's a great follower, but if she's the last left outside, as so happened tonight, then she is suddenly lost in her own backyard. Poor Miss Stupid. We'll have to make sure she gets in the coop at night sooner than later so she won't run herself into the back of our house and get knocked out..

So, it was a fun evening for Deputy Dave. Those chickens sure do have their own ways of doing things, but it boils down to us being the boss and that means they sleep inside the coop. Eventually, they would all make their way inside the coop; however, his chickie girls are not afraid to express themselves if they feel rushed.

He better watch out, next time Miss Stupid and Big Mama might hook up with Miss Speckles and recruit the other two chicken bystanders to join in for bum rush of Deputy Dave. I can see it now, "He's a tall one, so I'll take the back of his head while you take the legs, you two take the toes and you nip a couple of his fingers...a full out assault of chicken fury."

It's a mental picture I have of their revengeful moment being plotted right now as I sit in bed and they sit in a huddle in the middle of their nesting boxes inside the coop.

I just pray that when I open their coop door tomorrow that I'll still get to see their sweet sides. I'll remind them, "Hey, it's me, the one who sets you free every day and who is your SOURCE for all things great...especially your feed."

As you can see. I'm diplomatic and doing my best to meet their demands so an assault can be avoided. Now, Deputy Dave, I'm not so sure about that one...he's bossy and likes things his way...a side effect of carrying a badge every day of your life for over 25 years. So, we might end up with a hostage situation. Since this Texas heat can be brutal, I hope he plans for the worse and walks outside with an extra bottle of water, just in case he's stuck there for a while.


Rae said...

Lmao! That's hilarious! We have one girl who is very very Bossy, and while her name often starts with Miss, it usually ends with a different B word. :) In any case, she pecks the crud out of LJ if he doesn't pay attention to her. She is also usually the last one in the coop at night. Everyone else will be settled in, and she'll spend 15 minutes on sentry duty, pacing the run and chuck churring to herself (best way I can describe the chicken growl they do).

LindaG said...

Haha. Have a great weekend! :)

Charade said...

This is too funny. Deputy Dave better not turn his back on Miss Stupid, as she may become the ultimate avenger for him giving her that name.