I’m rather embarrassed to admit this, but I seem to have a pet chicken. Being a strong, but compassionate goat farmer, I’m afraid that telling anyone that I have a pet chicken will undermine my strength and credibility to people. But, what do you do when you have a chicken heeling at your side? You can’t very well say, “What on earth is that?” because everyone knows what a chicken looks like.
Neither can you put a little spiked collar around her neck to make her look more macho, because how can she then preen her feathers to look all pretty and glossy? You can’t paint her little toe nails black to make her look more sinister, that would be ridiculous. Besides, I couldn’t find black nail polish.
But, there she is each morning, waiting at the garage door for me to come out and feed and help me with the morning chores. You say, so what? A lot of people have a pet chicken or two. But, they have usually raised them from a little biddy, handled them a lot and the chicken just becomes a pet.
My chicken is going on 4 years of age, has never been handled, and in the last year has decided she wants to be a pet. She decided last winter that she did not like the chicken house and moved into the barn to live with the goats and horses. Now, maybe the other hens were picking on her and she said enough is enough, I don’t know.
She’s a mid size hen, an Americana that lays green eggs, has black feathers with deep red highlights, and she has no name. She might think her name is “Girl” because that is what I call her when I talk to her. All right, all right, I talk to the chicken. What do you expect? She’s right there beside you all the time and it would be rude to ignore her.
I think it all got started when she moved to the barn and realized I was the one graining the baby goats and yearlings. She’d assist with these feedings, hopping up to eat along side the young goats. The young goats, not having an opinion formed about a chicken eating with them, just accepted it. In fact, when I’m not around, the chicken goes out with them to “graze.” Her idea of grazing is waiting for the kids to stir up the bugs in the grass and brush and she goes happily zipping about, chasing bugs and gobbling them up. It’s not unusual to actually see the chicken right beside a goat’s mouth as they graze to be able to dart out faster to catch a bug. Right now she is having a ball chasing grasshoppers disturbed by the goats.
We keep a baby monitor on at the barn and I have to admit when I’m in the house it’s rather pleasant to hear the chicken down at the barn singing what a good life she has. She’s either happily clucking or singing and once in a while she scolds the barn cats or one of the baby goats that almost stepped on her. Now, if I go out real early to do the morning barn chores and it’s still black as ink outside, she’ll sit in the barn on her roost and cluck a happy good morning to me and Lee, and tell me that she will get down later to help at a more decent hour.
When she lays her pretty green eggs, yes, she still lays regularly at almost 4 years of age, she goes to our ten year old buck‘s, Bodacious Nico’s pen. She says his hay feeder is just perfect and at his age, he says he’s seen everything and so what if there is a chicken laying an egg while he is eating. It doesn’t bother him and it doesn’t bother her. To him, the only real problems in life is if he doesn’t get fed on time, if a doe in heat is on the other side of the fence and not in with him, or if another buck is eyeing that doe in heat. It’s really no problem if a chicken is laying an egg near his head as he eats.
The other pets of the farm don’t seem to think it’s strange that a chicken is standing among them, waiting for my attention. I’ll look down and there I am surrounded at the barn with two old backyard dogs, several barn cats, and a baby goat or two and a chicken waiting for me to say something to them and notice them. Without thinking, I almost bend down to pet the chicken too, while petting the others, until I get a grip and say, “What am I doing?” It just doesn’t seem a goat farmer should be petting chickens.
I know, I know, I’m sounding very prejudice. But, what will goat customers say when they drive up and me and my chicken go out to greet them? And, then, me and my chicken go down to the barn with them to look over the goats for sale. My only hope of keeping a little goat farmer dignity is that the chicken might run off to follow the baby goats that are stirring up the grasshoppers in the grass.
Well, it’s time for chores and I’m sure Girl is a little concerned that I am running late. She always clucks worriedly when I step out of the door later than usual. And, she’ll get beside me as I head down to the barn, heeling better than any dog. Drat. She’s such a cutie. I’m going to give her a little extra corn this morning.