The summer sun is strong. Sunflowers burst; their blossoms are heavy, cicadas emerge from the dirt and raspberries have retired. Along with the fruitful bounty of tomatoes, swiss chard, beets, basil and everything else thriving in my garden, my chickens have grown!
Physically, we’re finally through with the awkward and rather ugly transition of adolescence. But seeing the mystery of their feathering reveal itself was marvelous. I admire the uniqueness of my chickens feathers: black and white flecked, blue (grey) laced with red, wild variance of browns, blood red and shimmering forest green. True to my magpie style, I’m collecting their fallen feathers; symbolic of flight and ascension. It’s been a while now, but it was months before certainty of their sex was revealed. I’d notice the combs and wattles (fleshy growth on forehead and beneath the beak) of my roosters turn a brilliant red.
I’m making a daring attempt to keep two roosters and am totally overrun with three. I’ve fallen for these handsome birds: Alobar, my Barred Rock, named after a captivating character from the book Jitterbug Perfume, chasing not eternity, but the desire to live fully and Crooky Foot my Ameraucana, who’s defied his disability as a chick as he’d tightrope around the flimsy barrier of their brooder. I hope their bond of being raised together prevails, otherwise, well, I’d be seeking homes for them alternative to roasted on a dinner table. I encountered this fork in the road of pet or farm animal with Alobar and his dislocated leg. I considered briefly taking him to the vet until I discovered that a chicken is considered an exotic and an appointment with an avian specialist costed $160! I opted to set his leg myself and with adequate rest it thankfully seemed to resolve itself.
Observing my little flock, I delight in seeing their personalities emerge and their pecking order fall into place. Their curiosities would accrue and at times they become most loquacious. The sweet, yet pathetic beginnings of little crows have begun to grace my mornings.
I placed much consideration in the designing of their coop. It’s positioned in close proximity to my house replacing a long narrow flower bed beside my garage. Wheelchair accessibility in all seasons is obviously key for me. Incorporating these birds into my life, I aim to promote the sustainability of my existence at my place and that I be able to do so independently is incredibly important. That’s not to say I’ve done this alone, some amazing men in my life aided in building a fortress for my flock, protecting against hawks or foxes. Although my St. Bernard, Opi is probably their largest predator; I swear he envisions little chicken dinners. The construction of the coop began amongst unfortunate circumstances. Amidst its framing, Anthony and James, guys that I adore, sadly suffered the loss of an incredibly dear friend to a motorcycle accident. Constructing, putting the pieces back together and grieving; the project was infused with healing and such immense gratitude. As Anthony hung the last of the cedar siding I recognized his tremendous growth as a carpenter. He truly crafted the chicken coop of my dreams; I’m so grateful.
For the most part now, the chickens are to be enjoyed. They’ll feistily play football for a mealworm and wildly and hilariously chase and catch mosquitoes drawn to their red lamp. I once again get to play mother hen in taking my roosters out to forage and teaching them to scratch the leaves away revealing insects. Moss is my lil’ chicken wrangler. I anticipate allowing them to feast on my compost pile.
My hopes have grown for these little guys. I want them to know the land that I live on, my garden, the sunshine, the rain… It adds to the symbiotic relationships that I hope will grow in creating this sense of place.
Just living, here and now, I await with joy to see the whole semblance coalesce.