Grazing on Grapes and Head of the Pecking Order

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I just love days off from work.  I have a great job, but I’d rather be enjoying time with family, especially during the summer.  I also love holidays and I’m grateful to celebrate the 4th of July today.  My husband, little farm chick and I set out early to walk to the parade route for out local parade.  With chairs slung over our shoulders we enjoyed a morning stroll to find the perfect spot in the shade. When I got back I let the chickens free range for a bit.  They found my veggie garden so I shooed them out and followed behind for a bit watching their route.  They came to the bottom of the yard and found the overgrown herb/grape box.  I was fine with them doing a bit of digging and pruning.  They reveled in the shade and munched on the unripe grapes.

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After a little while they all bolted back to their run, except one chicken.  Rose hung behind not noticing her other sisters were gone.  DSCF8450

Suddenly Zebra stood right at the entrance to the run and made the funniest noise.  Not quite a bock or a squeak, but a call for Rose to get her butt home.  It really makes me think that Zebra has now become the head of the pecking order.  I was impressed that she was looking out for everyone.  Hopefully she will do a great job.

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Growing up with Chickens

Little Farm Chick snapped this picture of her older sister hugging her chicken, Snow.  Each of the girls named their own chick and have watched them grow.  We all feared that snow would be a rooster.  Early on she had a very bright red comb and wattles.  As time went by though they didn’t grow to rooster proportions, even though her wattles sure do waggle when she walks.  She is one of the prettiest hens in the bunch with her silver lacing and can be very friendly once she is placed on your lap.  Remember this is the chicken that scratched my cornea with her curious beak.

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I made the decision two years ago to raise chickens and one of the best things about raising hens is getting my girls involved.  Last night as a rough wind was coming in my middle daughter raced outside in her pajamas to see that all of the chickens were safely locked in their coop.  My oldest daughter regularly goes out on hot days to put some sort of frozen fruit in the hens’ water to cool them down.  Little farm chick is often close behind when chicken chores are involved.

I won’t deny that I am still the one doing most of the chicken chores, but my daughter’s have learned to care for something outside themselves, something that needs their loving attention.  There is an excitement that comes as well when their hen lays their first egg.  They really come to understand that eggs don’t just come from a store, but from a living, feeling animal.  There is nothing like finding a warm, freshly laid egg from your hen.

One of the most important lessons they’ve learned is loss.  When we lost our chickens last year to dogs we were all deeply saddened, the girls especially because they had done so much to raise and care for them.  We aren’t strangers to death especially since we’ve lost my parents and other extended family members, but to lose something you’ve raised and watched mature can bring its own type of heartbreak.

Children and chickens just seem to go together.  As they are raised together something wonderful happens.  Something I wouldn’t give up for the world.