(it's a memorial, give me a break)
Sadly, one of our chickens, Nicole Eggert, is no longer with us. I'm not 100% certain when she was "removed" from the flock, but I can tell you she's gone. She was the leader of the pack, or at least thought she was and really, that's all that matters. I'm already working on a memorial video with all the footage I've taken with her over the year-ish... stay tuned...you'll be glad you did.
When we decided a few years ago that we wanted chickens, it started as a novelty in my mind. I thought, hey us, we're in Montana, we've got some land here, let's see if we can raise chickens. What the hell, why not, right? Bella wasn't quite sure about it, but now she's ok with them and so are we. They will actually chase after her if she's got a bone or a treat they think they might want. They're like a little gang of egg laying bullies.
That's a picture our very first egg ever!!! I felt like a proud chicken parent, except we ate our baby. What? I'm so happy that Jenn took this photo, I wasn't going to. Looking at that photo I can tell you it was one of our leghorns because it's a white shell. They are awesome, as long as the little chicken hawk leaves them alone. For anyone born after 1980 go see this now for some historical reference. I say, I say...
We've since learned that the chickens are givers. They will produce eggs even if we don't want or need them. At one point we had 56 eggs in our kitchen. That prompted us to start selling them to our friends to offset the cost of their feed and whatnot. It's a total win/win and I'm no longer left feeling like I've got to make deviled eggs every 3 days. My heart thanks me.
For some chicken reason they tend to lay eggs in the same nest. I've got 10 boxes in their coop, but each and every time I go to collect, they are always, without fail, in 2 of the nests. I guess they choose the luxury box with a view of the door? Like I said, it's chicken reasoning, you can't rationalize. By the way, total legit picture, they laid them this way, and usually do.
We expected eggs, that was the whole point. What we didn't expect was the entertainment value of these girls. I'd say dollar for dollar, I've never been so pleased from an investment, ever, and I have the internets, so, yeah. Not only do they provide us and our friends with food and keep the bug population well in check around the house, but we will spend hours outside watching and listening to them scavenge around the yard in the warmer months. I know, hours sounds like a long time, but you probably have spent hours driving in traffic to see a crappy movie you paid for then had to drive home in traffic and complain about it on your blog. It's just a different way of spending our time. Get off my lawn.
Chickens are resilient as can be. In the winter, they come out and still scratch in the snow to find anything they consider edible in the frozen grass. I give them food every other day and keep a heated water bowl out for them too. They still lay eggs for us even in the winter months. Gotta love that. Most things would just quit, like most birds do. They totally quit for the winter and fly south where it's warmer. Quitters.
When Roscoe P Coltrane was introduced to the chickens I knew immediately he was going to be ok with them. He watched them for hours, yes hours (while my wife and I drove in traffic to see a movie we didn't like and... just kidding, but you see how hours can slip by). He only ran once, and that was directly away from the flock of cackling flapping egg laying bullies. He had gotten to close to their prized bail of straw.
Circle of life. When we had our niece and nephew visit from California they were enamored with the girls. They couldn't understand how the whole thing worked at first. They had only seen eggs come from the refrigerated section of the store and they had only seen a real chicken on their plate, not with feathers, not with bugs from the yard in their beak. It was really great to show them this little slice of life, if you will, and since then, they have asked about the girls whenever we get patched through by the local operator on the switchboard in town. No, that's not true, but had you thinking about it, didn't I? (By the way, from left to right She-ra, Attila The Hen, and Dotty)
We've got lots of different predators out here, but the one I think might have absconded with Nicole Eggert is the red tailed hawk. In the spring they hover the landscape and take snakes, rodents, bunnies, and other small animals, like chickens.
They usually have chicks by now and they eat ALLOT. I setup my camera a couple years ago to spy on this nest. I left the camera there for an entire day and was very impressed to see how much these little fuzzballs ate. One of them took down most of the snake you see in the shot there. The parents are pretty much hunting from sun up to sun down.
Chickens aren't just for dinner. I think they each have a personality and are actually quite pretty. The leghorns are the most outgoing. I handle them on a regular basis and they will actually sit on my arm like a parrot if I let them. I'm just worried about them pecking my eyes out.
This is Little Jerry Seinfeld, he's a white crested black polish. We set out to only have hens, but he's a rooster. So he's gone. Let's just leave it at that.
Shaking off after a nice dirt bath, which is very different from a dirt nap. They have little dug out holes all over the yard that they roll in. It kinda looks like a stuffed animal having a seizure on the lawn, but upon further inspection, it's just a chicken.
This is one of the leghorns hunting up some bugs one summer evening. The light was just right and I happened to be laying in the yard with my camera. It's just something I do sometimes, don't judge me.
I just get all warm inside when I see my wife come in with an apron full of eggs. She actually bought that apron at a thrift store for this egg gathering purpose. I love that about her. There's this feeling of complete and utter satisfaction. If you ever get the chance to use some real fresh backyard chicken eggs jump all over it. Your palette will thank you.
So, Nicole Eggert, if you're reading this because you thought you were dead, rest assured you're not. I loved you in Charles In Charge, but I loved you more in Baywatch. Keep rocking the little kitty and the rainbow short sleeve sweaters girl, you've earned it. Peace.