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

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Daisy and the Broody Toad

The young Nuggets were terrified of Daisy. Her attacks were incessant.  
So in the interest of peace and safety, I decided to split the flock.  
Thank goodness I've built so many coops.

The four youngsters and Lucy continued to abide in the big coop, 

and I moved Daisy into the jailhouse where wicked Lil'White is serving her life term.

To make Daisy's transition more comfortable, I dragged her favorite little henhouse into the jail yard. 
When I built this house a few years ago, all the ladies were amused by it.  

Lucy checked it out first, then settled on the front porch. 

But Daisy decided instantly that this would be her own personal nest box. 
She marched right in and laid an egg. 

Daisy settled comfortably into jailhouse life, and continues to lay eggs in her white henhouse.  She and Lil'White get along just fine because they're both self-absorbed and aloof.  They kind of enjoy having their very own prison. 

Recently I discovered another resident in the Chicken Jail. 

I discovered it when I opened the back door to Daisy's white house to collect her egg, and nearly grabbed this:
Definitely not an egg. 
It was a toad.  
sitting calmly beneath a Daisy-feather.  

I quickly shut the door.  

I didn't know what to do.

If I left the toad, then Daisy would soon walk in and find it.  
I've seen Daisy kill frogs and shrews.
I love toads.  
Should I rescue it?  
Or should I let nature take its course?

I walked away... 

Later in the evening, I went back out to collect Daisy's egg.  
Expecting to find carnage and toad-chunks, I opened the door ever-so-carefully....
And there it was, Broody Toad, beside an egg.   

Daisy had stepped ever-so-carefully past the toad and laid that egg, then stepped out again.

Why didn't she touch it?

It's not because she likes the toad. It's because she's smart. 

She knows that toads have a secret power. 

Marky knows the secret of the toad.
He learned the hard way. He licked one. 

His mouth fizzed up like he'd eaten a bar of Ivory soap. 

So apparently chickens know, too.  But I'm not sure how.  

Last summer, when the Nuggets were mere youngsters, they met their first toad in the garden.  
They all shrieked and stared. 
I rushed over to see what the hysteria was all about, and found this tiny creature 
standing on its tippy toes, trying to look fearsome.  

Apparently it succeeded.  The ladies didn't touch it.  
It's been more than a month now that Broody Toad has been rooming with Daisy. And Daisy is careful and respectful of it still. 

She's a smart chicken, Daisy.

So where did the phrase, "dumb cluck" come from?  

Not my flock.