Friday, May 20, 2011

My mean pet chicken

I don't know what to do...well, I do, but I don't want to. I didn't choose my Easter Egger Eastie, my son did. (as well as her name) She isn't very pretty, she gets beat up on all the time, she's neurotic (why she gets beat up on..or because of it...we need a chicken LCSW) This chicken choose me. There's no question. I've held her when she was sick and have protected her to great extremes including getting rid of half my clutch with my favorite girls because they were mean to her.

Eastie thinks that she is a dog and follows me around closely. She tries to get into the house when you open the door and when I pull up in the van she runs up to great me and hops up into the car. The fact the kids drop french fries on the floor might add to that wanting to get into the car. She's even tried to get in through windows. She just wants to be with me. The small group (she's grown up with them except for one) I have now are wonderful and even they peck at her back...she doesn't have any feathers above her tail area. I couldn't see why everyone..EVERYONE was mean to her. I thought maybe because she is my pet and gets extra treats and the others were jealous.

My husband brought her other behavior to my attention and I see her in a new light. Maybe she just loves me for the treats? No, I still think she loves me though. She HAS to be free range. I don't let them unless I can watch them since I've spotted countless foxes and coyotes in our yard. I've never lost one, but they have been saved literally from the jaws of death. She'll pace and jump and just go nuts sometimes when they are in the run and I can only imagine in the coop. (It's 4X8 with a 10x8 run) They have good space for 5 chickens and they spend most of their time in the front yard at the bird feeder or digging up my gardens.

The other chickens just hate her. Momma is nice to her and will cover her at night, but will also peck to keep her in line when she is getting spazzy. Now my daughter and I each have a new baby. They are about ready to join the big girls. The hen I've been babysitting is going home so that's 4 hens and two babies. One would think that would be fine. My other 3, 2 black Astrolorps and my other Easter Egger, are nice to the babies and will peck around the yard with them and hang out together on the bricks. Eastie will charge them and peck at their heads! They could just be sitting there in the sun and she'll attack. We've spent time really getting these chicks to be calm. Luna holds her RIR Reba like a rag doll and plays with her in the sand box. She LOVES that chicken. I hold Bunny all the time and we sit on the bench swing all 4 of us and she cuddles, closes her eyes, and falls asleep. This chicken just sleeps in my arms like a baby. So, to have my 2 year old spazzy hen attacking these babies is NOT acceptable.

Eastie and I have a relationship though. I know I'll have to get rid of all my girls when my husband finds another job, but I actually had secret plans to keep her and just build her a nice indoor coop until we got where we were going. So you see, I'm close to this chicken. Am I so disloyal that I'm choosing the babies over her? Wouldn't life be easier if I didn't have to worry so much about the social issues of my chickens? I have no soap opera any more..so they are my replacement. I'd have a peaceful hen house without her. Would she be happy with strange chickens in someone else's run? I know someone with 1 chicken that free ranges and sleeps in a small coop on her porch. I'm going to ask her if Eastie could live with them. I got her as a 1 day old chick over 2 years ago. She lays a perfect pale green egg for me almost everyday. She looks at me as a mother and here I am sending her off to a place that won't be as safe as the home she has known her whole life. Just to keep babies that I'll have to part with maybe before they even start to lay if  job comes in?

The drama of a chicken keeper......

update: Eastie is still happy and healthy at my friends more than a year later. Sadly she has forgotten me. Yes, I did think she would remember me:(