Meet the Girls ((The occasional rooster too!))
First of all, thank you. Thank you for your interest in and support of Nashoba Family Farm, our farm blog, and Facebook page; Mother Clucker’s Farm/The Egg Report—now over 2,000 fans strong! (If you haven’t joined the fun on our Facebook page yet, give us a try!) We are happy that you have come along on our journey into farm life.
We hope to give you a feeling of life on our farm, so that you can be right there, beside us… rejoice at our victories, drink in the awe of discovery, and weep with us during the inevitable pain and sadness as we lose those we have become so fond of… feel the unique wonder and amazement that comes with seeing each tiny chick break through its shell… stay up with us, fretting like mother hens, as we nurse sick farm babies back to health… feel the pride as those babies grow strong… experience the mixed feelings when designated ones (mainly turkeys and “extra” roosters) meet their destiny to become “honored dinner guests” at the farm’s kitchen table.
In this section I want to introduce you to the ladies who work so hard to supply Mother Clucker’s Egg Co-op with the delicious eggs that we enjoy so much. With maybe five or six exceptions, all of the 80 plus “Ladies in Lay” have been hand raised from tiny chicks, usually less than one week old. Not all girls have names (yet), however those who do have earned them—one way or another.
(Picture larger than I’d otherwise post, so that you can see her eye.)
Lulu, if hens had titles, would be our Queen Mum. She came to live with us *very* shortly after Pupp and I bought the property and moved in. Like most of our gals, she arrived here as a teensy-tiny chick, in a box of twenty or so babies that I plucked (no pun intended) from one of the chick bins at Orchard’s Feed. All cute and fluffy, she had markings down her back that looked like a chipmunk’s stripes. The store’s bin was labeled, “Americana chicks.” More accurately, Lulu and her bin-mates are called “Easter Eggers.” She, and others of her breed were chosen primarily for one very special characteristic they possessed… Lulu and her bin-mates would grow up to lay green shelled eggs!
Lulu had an uneventful childhood. She did everything that the rest of the chicks did, growing up: scratching for bugs and roots, nibbling tender shoots of grass, and chasing grasshoppers and other bugs around the yard—until, likely, well before I noticed something was amiss. Lulu didn’t wander far from the henhouse. She didn’t chase grasshoppers any more. But, there was one HUGE clue that told me something was really off. One day, Lulu RAN at full speed toward me and **BASH** crashed into my leg. This is not normal behavior for a chicken, so I picked her up and immediately discovered the problem. Lulu had THICK cataracts in both eyes. Lulu was, and still is, almost blind. Upon this discovery, I named her after Louis Braille… Lulu for short.
Chickens are social creatures with a highly defined hierarchy—or “pecking order.” Dominant chickens get bossy, and subordinate chickens get pecked, often to remind them that they are their subordinate! Lulu ended up being the “bottom hen.” However, she had found a friend and protector in the “Alpha Rooster,” Bob. Bob would lead her around, clucking loudly so that Lulu and another “Special Needs” hen could follow his voice around the pasture and through the orchard. Bob would stop and cluck to them, also telling them where to get the tidbits he found on the ground. He took good care of his girls… even chasing off the bossy hens, when they would get too aggressive. Lulu, although visually impaired, thrived… until one fateful night.
Bob was a good protector. One night the coyotes came and raided the henhouse. Twenty three girls and three boys were lost that night. By the amount and types of feathers scattered around the field, it became obvious to me that Bob died while defending his ladies. He didn’t die in vain… his two darlings survived. Lulu was devastated. She would wander the field, often alone… sometimes with the other “Special” lady, “Grizelda…” BAWK-BAWK-ing loudly in all directions. It was obvious. Lulu was lost, in more ways than one, without her man.
There are several predators in our area; raccoons, opossums, hawks, eagles, coyotes, and the neighbor’s uncontrolled dogs. (Don’t get me going on THAT topic!) Knowing, that without her protector, little blind Lulu would stand no chance against predator attack, I moved her and her friend into our fenced back yard. Lulu has lived there ever since. It didn’t take her long to learn just which bedroom window to LOUDLY complain under, when she feels I’ve slept in too late… “A girl has to eat… and *I* want to eat NOW!!” she would likely say.
Lulu does very well in our back yard. We keep the nest box, food, and water in the same place, so that she knows where to find them. And, although Grizelda has passed on, Lulu has lots of company. Currently she shares her nestbox and yard with a constant rotation of younger chickens, until they become old enough to join the main flock. A newer, permanent, roommate has joined Lulu’s Queendom; But, I’ll tell you more about One-Eyed-Jackie another time.
Hugs and clucks!
Jenn… ~Mama Cluck~