Chickens. Curious, beady eyed chickens. We have always had chickens on our farm, mainly for eggs, but also for meat.
Before writing this post I had a quick look on the internet to identify the breeds of chickens we have. I found that breed definitions can change depending on the country you are in, and cross breeding means a chicken may show traits from different breeds. Our chickens seem to be a mix of Araucana, (a Chilean chicken that lays blue/green eggs), Transylvanian Naked Neck, and Brahma.
Originally our chickens were free range, wandering around the farm; they are smart, and they come home to roost at night by themselves. However they can not defend themselves from dogs and tend to lay eggs or go broody where ever they want too. Dog attacks were the biggest, and saddest problem. We also had a few small chickens taken by a large bird of prey.
We eventually enclosed the chickens in a fenced area. A strong fence, dogs can be very persistent. Part of this area has a net roof to protect the younger birds that are small enough to be carried away by a bird of prey.
We get lovely eggs for most of the year and roosters to eat when we leave the eggs with the chickens to hatch out. They are fun to watch and I have heard that the Chilean national dance, the cueca, is based on the dance the rooster does to attract the hen.
My youngest daughter loves to come with me in the evening when we close their house door and collect the eggs. Sometimes there is a hen that is broody and wants to stay in the nest box. These chickens we scoop up and carry to the chicken house. Some hens flap and try to peck, but others are docile and my youngest carries them.
I love the feel of these gentle chickens, their bony warm feet hold on tightly to my hands or arm. They coo and cluck softly as I put them to bed. And with their naked necks and little cap of feathers on the top of their heads, it is impossible not to smile.