Who knew chickens could be so entertaining?! Before moving on to Webb Acres, my experience with chickens were fried, rotisserie, or soup. Eggs came in a carton labeled small, large, jumbo; free range and organic.
I see now that chickens are social, territorial, and curious. A few of our chickens are so friendly they demand petting and holding. One girl uses a forearm as a pillow and seems to fall asleep as soon as she’s picked up. Aptly name Gucci by my mom’s caregiver, as well as the red heads, will jump on our laps if we sit outside. The white girls are a handful. They scurry away if a human dares to come close.
Each morning, the alpacas impatiently wait for me to open the hen houses and let the girls out before giving them their grain. The chickens run out straight for the other hen and see if the food in the other house is better than theirs (it’s the same food). They eat each other’s food, lay eggs in each other’s hutch, and do what chickens do with each other all day. For a time, we went on egg hunts in the woods, discovering eggs among thorny branches and fallen limbs. We have 10 hutches in the 2 coops but everyone goes in the same 2 or 3 everyday. At least they don’t make us look all over the property anymore.
I’ve learned that a happy chicken makes better eggs. Store eggs are generally mass-produced by hens who live in a crowded house or alone in a small cage – a miserable existence. Our eggs are fresh, rich, and full of nutrients lost by those sold in grocery stores. The three breeds of hens deliver three different colored eggs each day. While they look different, the clear whites and orangish/yellow yolks taste the same. However, our eggs do taste different – and better – from those sold in stores.
Our older red heads tend to hang out together and don’t give grief to the younger blackies and whities during the day. But if one of the younger girls is in red heads coop at bed time, they will peck and harass her as she runs for the exit.
At dusk, everyone is ready for bed. They come running towards us with enthusiasm. Jim Bob taught them that bed time means pieces of bread and egg shells so evenings are usually not like herding cats. It can be a bit of a challenge putting them in the right coop. But they eventually allow us to lead them to the right house. If it’s dark when we close their doors, the hens will already be settling in their proper place for a good night’s sleep.