Ever remember the good old days and want bits and pieces of them in your life now? I have memories of great old days when our kids were small, living in California. We had horses, rabbits and chickens and, wow, I miss those days like crazy sometimes. Can’t get them back again, they have their own families now, but the animals, somehow that brings a piece of the lifestyle that we enjoyed so much back then. So I’ve dreamed a lot about getting chickens, or a horse or a bunny.
You know, dreams really do come true. We’re sitting on 2 acres in GA now and for almost 11 years I’ve been picturing chickens scratching around in my yard. Yep, finally got them. But life as a chicken rancher (well I actually only have 4) while being such a joy has also been a little bit more than I expected.
We’re so blessed to have our son and his family live just about next door to us. Well, technically behind our next door neighbor but our property lines meet in the woods. Anyway, since he had chickens as a boy he too dreamed of having them for his 2 young sons, 5 and 8. We’ve literally talked about it for years. Then this summer we made the decision to go for it, but the chickens would be in his yard for the boys. I was slightly disappointed but it was close enough, so the coop was built in his yard and I contacted a friend who had chickens to see if she could hook me up with a great place to get some. I love God’s timing sometimes; she needed to get rid of the 9 she had and said we could have them. Not only that, we could borrow their coop until they needed it again. Yippie! now I could have some in MY yard. We got 4 of the 9 and I felt like a little girl at Christmas when we brought them here and set them all up. Two white Leghorns, Lucy and Ethel, and 2 Rhode Island Reds, Shirley and Laverne. It was even more like heaven when we could finally let them out in the yard a week later. Oh how I have loved the site of that!
Then disaster struck. In spite of our strenuous efforts to keep wild animals from eating them, a small wild Corgy, (well, she’s my son’s little dog actually) got out and nailed one, poor little Lucy, in the woods. Oh my gosh, it was horrifying. My husband rescued her from the jaws of the wild Lalu and we nursed her pitiful little torn up body but to no avail. After a brave effort surviving the night she stopped breathing in the morning. ( I have a picture but I’ll spare you that one!) My son’s family felt horrible. he gently reminded me, ”that’s why it’s not a good idea to name chickens, Mom, they’re pretty low on the food chain”, and offered us one of theirs, a beautiful Buff Orpington named (by our grandson who was visiting from CA) Goldie. What a sweet gentle love she is. Orpingtons are known for that. you can just pick her up and pet her and she follows you like a puppy.
Unfortunately, I had never introduced a chicken to a flock before and actually thought they’d all recognize each other again after being separated for a couple of months. Shows how little I know. You know the term pecking order? Yea. I put her in the cage and mayhem broke out as they all pounced viciously on her with me yelling and dragging them off of her. Fortunately we could let them out of the cage and while they still bully her at least she can get away. It breaks my heart. She was perfectly happy next door and now she’s harassed and picked on mercilessly. I just got done cleaning blood off her comb to keep the others from going for the blood. Scares me to death to leave them alone! A big problem is Ethel. I’m pretty sure Lucy ruled the roost before and now with Lucy gone, Ethel has her own show! She’s become the cranky boss of everyone, especially poor Goldie.
We figured out a way to put a kennel next to the coop for Goldie that keeps her safe from the others during the day but close enough to allow them to get used to one another. Each day is better than the day before for sure but they say it takes a week or two most of the time. Keeps me a little tense so I’ll be glad when I can just relax again and enjoy them fully.
At least at this moment they are scratching around happily in the yard, a safe distance from each other and everyone is more concerned about finding bugs than anything else. It’s a beautiful sight. Even though Goldie still gets run off if she gets too close for too long she can get away and be safe. I love my chickens but I’m a little sad we lost Lucy and peeved at the 3 bullies, even though I do understand this is instinctive and just part of this Green Acres Country Life I love so much. It’s possible I’m getting a little too emotionally invested. Sigh. I better darned well get used to all this though. I’ve been thinking a lot about bunnies lately.