Radio Silent re: Chickens

I haven’t talked much about the new group of chickens, and I’ve been untangling why that is. Part of it is that I don’t want to jinx myself. If I say one day, “They’re doing fantastically well!”, I have more than a slight fear that I will be setting us up for an update a week later that they’ve all died some horrible death. Since I’m a) not ready for death again and b) nearly certain that I will be jinxing us by writing about them, I’ve been somewhat silent.

I think I’m also trying to distance myself as much as possible (which is damn near impossible when you have sweet girls like Beaker and Puppy/Dinosookus/Dino Puppy/Houdini and Little Red on your hands – more on that in a sec) and, as a result, have constructed a tiny, chicken-sized wall up between the girls and everyone else. When three of the four first girls died in the heat at the end of June, a lot of people expressed how sad they were to hear the news, partly, of course, because I was so heartsick over it, but also because they had felt like they had been a part of the adventure, too, in some small way. We invited people along for the ride, and then we failed to hold up our end of the bargain.

Again, these are some of the things I’ve been considering as I embark on this totally new way of living and being and sustaining and thriving with the help of five hilarious, goofy, sweet, personality-laden animals.

I’ve decided, though, that all of the above is rubbish, and it’s time to do a proper introduction of the flock as it stands now. Knock on wood, although we still have some chicken sickness going around and Little Red still spends her nights in the office, they are getting along famously and don’t seem too bothered by whatever nasty disease it is they have. So, let’s got on with it, shall we? From big to small, we have…

Beaker, the Easter Egger: Beaker is the only remaining girl from our first flock, raised from day-old babies in March. Shhh, don’t tell the others, but she has been our favorite for a long time. This Saturday, Chris and I will be attending a poultry processing workshop at Distelrath Farms here in Indy to learn how to butcher chickens. More on that later, too. The reason I mention it here is that people keep asking if we will ever be able to butcher our layers; in Beaker’s case (aka THE CHICK WHO LIVED), no. Never. She will get old and gray(er) in our backyard, walking with a little chicken walker and squawking far too loudly due to her old-lady deafness, if all goes according to my personal plan. Maybe I’m still a little too wounded to speak objectively on the subject, though.

20120723. Beaker... I think you've got a little something on your... yeah, right there. No, a little to the right. THERE.

“Hey, Beaker… you got a little something on your… yeah, right there… no, no, a little to the left…”

Within two minutes of sitting outside to read, this is what happens. Every. Time.

Beaker enjoys reading, long walks on the beach, and creeping on you while you’re relaxing in the backyard.

The Gray Easter Egger: Next up is Lady Gray, also known as Puppy (for her love of following us around like a puppy and falling asleep at our feet while being petted), Dinosookus (for her low, long, dino-like squawk), Dino Puppy (see past two names), and, the latest, Houdini (for her love of escaping the back fenced in chicken area).

20120706. The gray Easter Egger.

She’s such a pretty girl, even if she did bring DISEASE to our house.

Then Chris came home...

Both the Easter Eggers enjoy quality chill time with the human populace.

The Australorp: Poor girl doesn’t have a name yet. She assumed role of mama to Little Red the second we got them home, so perhaps some variation of Mama/Madre/Mader will settle in. She doesn’t like the human kind too terribly much (I actually haven’t picked her up in a week or so), but her dedication to Little Red has been downright adorable.

20120706. Australorp + Little Red = buddies for LIFE.

This was their first day at home with us – July 2.

20120703. The Australorp - guessing she's about 8 weeks old.

Boo, the Leghorn: Boo is very flighty/scared of everything, thus the name. However, we’ve also decided (and by “we,” I mean “I”) that “Boo” can be short for Bourgeoisie, because she may also be a little stuck-up. She is one of the two outdoor girls who have shown signs of sickness. If she pulls through, though, she should be a heavy lifter in the egg laying department and our only girl to produce white eggs. Leghorns are the standard breed for grocery store eggs. She and the Australorp are arguing a bit over who’s top dog – at least, in their weight class.

20120723. Boo maxin' and relaxin'.

Poor girl’s a little under the weather still.

20120706. Bourgeoisie, the chicken. Boo for short.

Little Red, the Rhode Island Red: Last but only least in size is Little Red. She got her name on day one, and I am most in danger of loving her out of all the new girls (don’t tell Dino Puppy). We actually had another red picked out and in-hand when this little wisp of a thing came running across the grass towards us. I still love watching her run around the backyard, head held high, tiny body grazing the grass, legs spinning like your legs spin out of control while running headlong down a sand dune. I keep thinking she’s not growing, but I think it’s just because she is so very small.

She was the first to show signs of illness and spent several days in the office with me. Now she’s hanging in gen pop during the day and coming in at night to sleep on her own until she gets big enough to vie for a spot in the coop. We thought she was five weeks old when we got her just because she was so brave and spunky… but she can’t be more than 6 weeks now. So, yeah – I’m glad to say she’s doing much better and am hopeful she’s gotten past her roughest baby patches.

20120723. Breaking news! Little Red is still tiny.

20120703. The wee Rhode Island Red. I'm guessing she's only 5 weeks old.

BREAKING NEWS: Little Red Still Tiny.

There. I did it.

8 thoughts on “Radio Silent re: Chickens

    • She’s my GIRL. Things she has going for her: a) Rhode Island in her breed name, b) tiny-ness, and c) general spunk at a young age. Hugs, Little Red, hugs.

    • Thanks, babycakes! Although you know that whole jinxing thing? THIS MORNING, we wake up and find Beaker is very sick. Jesus H, throw us a freaking bone already.

  1. Wonderful introductions. I’d love to hear how your chicken butchering class goes. I need to find something like that around here. Before I would even allow chickens to come in to our yard, I insisted we figure out what we would do when the time comes to butcher them. Thankfully, in Saskatchewan, it’s pretty much impossible not to know someone who farms or lives on an acreage, so we lined up a friend to help us eventually, but I’d like to be directly involved – the girls have given us so much, the least I can do is give them a decent death. I find the topic isn’t discussed much on backyard chicken forums and such, so I’d like to know what other city dwellers plan to do with their “senior” chickens.

    • We were really excited to see the workshop being offered, to be honest. I agree that it’s really important to think about the not-so-pleasant aspects of chicken rearing, too, and think about giving them just as good of a death as a life. I think a lot of people have been… a little horrified at the idea that we will likely/maybe be butchering our girls eventually. But, really, if they’re eating any meat at all, you know the meat they are eating didn’t have nearly as good of a life (or death) as our chickens will (hopefully).

      I will post all about it. It’s tomorrow – wish us luck!

      • That is so true – most commercially produced chicken have a horrible life (watch the doc Food, Inc. – disgusting). Our friends are also quite shocked that we would butcher our girls, but they are also the same friends who are grossed out by fresh eggs (they think our eggs are unsanitary). They simply don’t want to know, or maybe don’t care, where their food comes from.

        Good luck with the workshop!!!

  2. Oh man – if they only knew the unsanitary conditions their store-bought eggs came from! It has been a chicken-centric day for sure, and the workshop was amazing. Really and truly. Stressful, a little nasty at times, anxiety-laden, but mostly really interesting and… not FUN, but there is something empowering about learning what we learned to do today.

    After today I think anyone who eats meat should butcher an animal, start to finish, at least once. I think it would start changing how people live and some of the choices we make about how we eat.

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