True stories of a small flock of remarkable individuals -- and other critters.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


While the other gals are stampeding willy-nilly through that puddle,

Daisy stands transfixed at the water cascading over the edge. 

How many chickens do you know who carefully observe the hunting techniques of a robin? 

Okay, I'll just say it.  
I think I have a genius in the coop.

Over and over again, Daisy displays phenomenal mental capabilities.

Of course a chicken's brain, no matter how capable, is a little bit skewed in its design.

Daisy is easily distracted.  And she has a tendency to panic.  Comprehension is pretty weak, too.  
But doesn't that sound like the average report card these days anyway?

Minor disabilities are no obstacle for Daisy.  
She earnestly perseveres, committed to exploring the farthest reaches of her universe.

The kitchen, for example.

Daisy is obsessed with our living quarters.
While none of the other girls shows even the slightest curiosity about our human lives,
Daisy seizes every chance to stalk around the back deck peering into windows.

That day I left the sliding door open, Daisy cautiously advanced. This was her first opportunity to actually step inside, and she was giddy about it. She carefully absorbed every detail during those precious few moments.

Those precious few moments ended when Marky hopped up onto the deck---
but the excitement of her expedition left Daisy longing to return.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Daisy's next opportunity came just this week.
She had been laying eggs with no shells for several days, and I was pretty concerned. 
Daisy wasn't behaving like a sick chicken, but I knew something was wrong.

Then one night as I locked up the coop, I noticed that Daisy was missing.
I hunted around,
and found her asleep in the nestbox.
...not a good sign.
My hens always sleep on the roost. There's plenty of roosting space for them, so the nest boxes stay clean and are used only for egg-laying.
I had to pause and think for a moment about what to do.

I recalled what Terry Golson of once told me... (or did I just think she'd told me....?)

"when in doubt, give'em a bath".

...and if Terry didn't say this, she'd probably agree with me anyway.  
It's a pleasant experience for the chicken, and it's a good chance to do a little physical exam. So I took Daisy into the kitchen, filled a tub with warm water and plunked her in.
She had a whole mess of raw egg stuck to her feet and her belly -- so I was glad to get her all cleaned off. As I bathed her, I was able to examine her crop, gizzard, vent, toes.
All those little body parts seemed normal.
She thoroughly enjoyed her blow-dry,
she fluffed up the final feathers herself,
and then suddenly realized

that she was in the.... kitchen.
A sense of awe consumed her.

She became perky and happy, alert and investigative, which made me confident that whatever ailed her was not imminently fatal.
I let her explore briefly and then I scooped her up and ran her out to the coop before she could plop a heinous poo on the kitchen floor.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The next day I began augmenting the ladies' chicken feed with extra calcium, and in a few days Daisy was laying eggs with shells again. I think that the abundant bugs and grubs and grass and clover of this lush season had somehow set her nutrient level out of whack.

Daisy continues to study her world-
I watched her warily approach a dead vole in the coop the other day.

When she snatched it up and gave it a good shake I guessed that it might have been she who was responsible for its condition.

So how can it be that this fearless, plucky, intellectually superior --- and did I mention beautiful--- chicken 

has landed at the rock-bottom of the pecking order? 

Stay tuned for the next post:    BULLYING 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lucy's Helpful Heatwave Hints

In a shaded patch of clover:
spread every feather and every toe as far as it will go.

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
On a hot night: be the first one on the roost
and take all the space you need.

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 
Cool refreshing watermelon: 
sink toes in deep and feel your troubles drift away.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


A moth died on the window screen,

wings spread to shield her eggs.

Bright green pearls turned to red and
the cycle continued.
Immense energy

in a tiny package

on a big adventure.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


When the weather report says "TORNADO WARNING" and the TV is beeping an alarm, you grab what's important to you and head for the basement.   
Let's see..  daughter,  dog,  laptop,  PopTarts.  

We were all hunkered down in the basement when I logged onto Facebook to announce the drama to friends and family.   Within seconds, folks from all over were responding, "WHAT ABOUT THE CHICKENS?"
That's exactly what I'd been thinking....
The TV assured us that the tornado was on a direct track to Upton, but wouldn't get here for another 15 minutes.   

Plenty of time.

"Auntie Em! Auntie Em!" played in my head as I sprinted across the yard to rescue the girls.
When I got there, they fussed and asked me for treats.  I guess that living-in-the-moment gives a chicken no inkling of impending disaster.  I needed to move quickly, so I decided to leave the girls in the coop and prop the door open so they could escape if a tree fell on it.  But Lucy can barely walk, and would be smooshed under that tree.  So I snatched her up in a football hold and bolted back across the yard.

Safe in the basement, Sarah texted, Marky paced, and Lucy kept her opinions to herself.   
We ate Pop Tarts and watched the Weather Channel.

We were shocked to learn that this massive tornado made it all the way to Sturbridge before it petered out, leaving a big mess of property damage, and taking at least four human lives.   

We were fortunate to be a safe distance to the east.  

So-- danger had passed for us and we could see from the kitchen window that all was well in the back yard.  
But rain and lightning kept me from returning Lucy to the coop.
She seemed okay with that.

I set her on a little stool.  
Marky tried to make her feel welcome by sniffing her butt, in polite doggy manner.  
Lucy tried to act as if she didn't mind.

Marky likes Lucy because she's calm and doesn't make any quick moves.  
He was careful to keep from offending her by averting his eyes and maintaining an appropriate distance.  I think Lucy appreciated that.
To protect my little stool from chicken-poo, I carefully slipped a medical bill under Lucy's rear end.

I showed Lucy the sign I'd made recently.

Again, she kept her opinions to herself.

The skies eventually cleared and I returned Lucy to the coop where the ladies waited eagerly, fussing and asking me for treats.  

Sarah and I feel very sad for the people and animals harmed by the tornado....and   
so so happy to have things back to normal in Upton.