I love watching animal antics. I especially enjoy animals that stay close to me, since I can’t see them well if they’re very far away.
Now the cats, the dog and the humans have a new form of entertainment. Chicken TV. Yes, we’ve started raising chickens, and they are better than any situation comedy on television.
At first I thought one of the roosters had a broken internal clock. Reveille arrived at 5:30 AM, when the moon was fairly high in the sky and the sun was but a promise. I wasn’t about to open the coop at that hour, and I wondered whether the rest of the flock would be deaf after listening to so much exuberant noise in close quarters.
How often do roosters crow? If you’ve never been around chickens, you might not know that roosters only crow once in the movies. They cut loose whenever they feel like it, and ours tend to crow in sets of ten or twelve.
I really don’t mind the noise, but I admit that I’ve had to readjust my own night-owlish tendencies to be sure I’m up early enough to let the flock out and feed them. For the last couple of days, our morning song has come at 6:30, so I think the rooster has initiated his own time setting, which I call Rooster Standard Time or RST.
We have another rooster with a faulty voice. If he were human, I’d say he must be a heavy smoker. Oh, his call starts out strong and proud as any rooster, but at the end if falters into a pathetic staccato noise that makes me think he’s about to have a coughing fit.
We have three youngsters who all sleep in the window sill of the coop. During the day, they are constantly peeping and walking in a line. I guess their mother told them to line up wherever they go or something. They also love the little patch of tall grass by my house. So do the semi-resident bunnies.
The second day we had the chickens, I learned what it was like to break up a broody hen. When I went in to collect eggs, one of the hens was happily clucking in one of the nest boxes. I reached beneath her, said, “Excuse me,” and removed two eggs. The hen, who I call Latte, stayed where she was.
Later I came in with fresh straw for the nest boxes, and there sat Latte, eggless but broody nonetheless. She really wanted to sit on eggs apparently. She cackled disagreeably when I tried to nudge her out, so I took a handful of straw and pushed it in. The indignant cacophony she let out during the poultry equivalent of swearing at me was hilarious. She fluffed out her wings and stomped out of the coop. Now that’s fowl language! No guesswork there about what she was telling me.
We always know when the girls are laying an egg, because they raise a ruckus that lasts several minutes. I can understand. Expelling a large object from my body would make me yell too.
Two of the younger females gave us her first egg, which I found on the floor of the nesting area. Twelve nice nests with fresh straw and they lay an egg on the hard wood floor. Nobody ever accused chickens of being bright. At least they were inside the coop.
Now, when I am at the computer writing or in the living room watching a TV program, I often hear and see several chickens cooing, pecking, feasting on bugs, stretching, and otherwise entertaining themselves. They know where most of the snacks come from.
They have flock parties in various locations under the trees, at my place, behind my mom’s house, or down the hill. Then they go off in twos and threes, or sometimes alone, to forage for bugs and frogs or have a dirt bath. Then it’s party time again. They like to be around us if we’re out on the property.
I hope you will take some time each day to enjoy the abundant simple pleasures that surround you every day. It’s good for your health and peace of mind. Take a deep breath and be aware of the world around you.
Ronda Del Boccio is a globally published, award-winning author. She also happens to be legally blind. People always tell her she’s “amazing” and “inspiring,” she is simply living her life to the fullest. Ronda is co-author of “I’ll Push, You Steer: The Definitive Guide to Stumbling Through Life With Blinders On”