I know, as a mama hen you are not supposed to have favorites, (Zelda) but when you have a flock, you come to realize that some birds tend to be a little more equal than others.
It’s not necessarily related to the breed (although I love me some New Hampshire Reds) as much at it’s the roll of the dice. We’ve had some really friendly birds (Simon, Garfunkel, and Morganne) and we’ve had birds that both came with stories and then continued those stories in our backyard.
With all the devastation to our flock this spring and summer, I’m very happy to say that our 3 Marans have made it through the attacks. Rudd (who had been attacked and who then miraculously recovered), Lilly, and Charlie are still alive and well.
And while Rudd and Lilly came to our flock as adults, (someone who took my chicken workshop got them for her flock but quickly found they didn’t fit in and so offered them both to me – because she knew that I LOVED the breed) Charlie came to our house as a day old deformed chick who was going to be put down.
Note: We named her Charlie because her breed (Black Copper Marans) lays dark brown eggs that can look like chocolate Easter Eggs (Ahem, Charlie and the chocolate factory.) At the time we didn’t know her sex and when we finaly figure out she was female, she already responded to the name Charlie.
I took Charlie home (in January which is the *worst* time to have a newborn chick in NH) from a Poultry Congress. With my son’s help, I performed surgery on her fused toes and then casted her to coax her curled feet to straighten out. Every day, I’d take off the casts and worked with her on physical therapy (on my finger, off my finger, which eventually led to on the roosting bar, off the roosting bar.)
She recovered from the surgery and although they weren’t the prettiest, she had fully functioning feet. Because of the weather (sub-zero – which is not conducive to chick’s living long) and because Charlie had bonded with our dog Pippin (the two would sleep together) I couldn’t put her outside. We (I) ended up keeping Charlie in the house as a pet for 6 months. We became Charlie’s flock.
But as all mama hens eventually learn, although I wanted to keep her to myself, it was better for Charlie to leave the nest and join the outdoor flock. It was a painful transition for me (not going to lie) but eventually she made it to the coop and I was able to sleep through the night knowing that Charlie was safe and where she belonged. Even still, if I leave the backdoor open, Charlie will scoot into the house to eat and drink from the dog’s bowls (she decided early on that dog food was much better than chicken feed) an take a look around. I let her have her fill and then I lead her back outside.
Don’t worry Charlie, in this house you can always come home.
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
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