…apparently, it is spring in this area of the USA. My muddy boots (gray with little yellow daisies) are a sure sign that the time for gardening and growing things has arrived. This is not to say that there wasn’t mud and muck all winter long as well, it is just that I had the sense to stay safely inside instead of tromping around hillsides attempting to fight weeds with grub hoes. I am grateful for the days in which I can be outside in my boots, my gardening visor, and my tank top. I just find it rather annoying to sweat in shirts which have sleeves.
I haven’t written any words of late. I have been building eight raised garden beds. Wrangling the six baby chickens here and there. And so on. I regret to say that Dapple Doodlebug has abandoned her three chickens for the attentions of Little Man. You see, I built a makeshift chicken run outside so that the baby peepers could get some fresh air. Since we let the chickens wander willy-nilly, the babies are way to little to be out. Aside from being tasty hawk treats, they are likely to wander into the donkeys’ field and get stomped. So, since Jo and her baby peepers three are in the big coop, and Jo is a quick learner, I can herd her bunch into the outside run on sunny days instead of catching them, putting them in a box, and carrying them. This whole herding thing is much less stressful for all involved.
Well, given how good Jo is at following my chicken wrangling signals, I thought I would try the same process with Dapple Doodlebug and her three. They are in the barn office, so father away from the outdoor run, but she seemed a smart chicken, so it was worth a shot. I failed to realize the lure of Little Man and his ability to sense his lady on the move.
Layla was Little Man’s main squeeze. They were babies together, and she grew up hiding under him for protection. This was highly entertaining as Layla was three times his size as they grew up. She being a cuchin and he a silkey. Dapple Doodlebug was his lady on the side, so they were a trio of sorts. When Layla was injured and had to be put down, Little Man spent days in the coop waiting for her to show up. He also insisted upon going to the window outside of the barn office and crowing for Dapple to join him.
Well, on that fateful morning when Dapple Doodlebug abandoned her babies, Little Man was lurking around the barn door as he usually does in the morning. (The chickens like to sneak in and eat the barn cats’ food. For numerous reasons, this is not encouraged, so they tend to pout when I shut the barn door on them each morning. If you have never witnessed chickens pouting, you really are missing out). However, that morning, since chicken wrangling was my plan, I left the main barn door open. Of course, I also had to open the barn’s office door to begin the wrangling process. This is where the very tragic abandonment occurred.
Dapple, being bolder than her baby peepers, was the first out the door. She fluffed her feathers and pecked the barn floor in a search for stray seeds, bugs, cat food, etc. Little Man had followed me into the barn. When he saw Dapple emerge in all her fluffy chicken gloriousness, he did what any proper chicken suitor would do. He ran straight to her, grabbed her neck feathers in his beak, and jumped on her for a quick..hum…let’s say liaison. Dapple’s baby peepers were still lingering back in the office, so I shut the door as Dapple and Little Man skipped out of the barn.
My attempts to herd Dapple back to her small charges failed miserably. Little Man was having none of it. His little circling skipping rooster dance around her was a clear sign to me that backing off was needed. Besides, after his main squeeze disappeared from him, I felt more than a little delighted to see him so gosh darn perky. Dapple, the heartless minx, was too busy enjoying a good wallow in the dirt to give any thought to her poor little peepers.
I secretly think that the two black peepers were actually Layla’s anyway. Dapple is a much lighter gray, and the babies do not look anything like her. The third one is Jo’s baby, but Dapple sat on all of the eggs. She’s a broody lady when she needs to be. The baby peepers are plenty big enough to do fine on their own. Integrating them into the flock will be tougher without Dapple’s fierce protection to help them, but they will do fine. So, since none of the baby peepers were actually hers, I suppose I cannot really blame her for abandoning the three little ones for our dapper Little Rooster. He certainly has a way with the lady birds!
So, you can see that I have been busy…planting and pruning and currying and wrangling and poop scooping and..OH! Buying scrap metal to build a new trellis and fence for the garden. I’ll have to remember that I have a camera and use it occasionally. I am grateful that in spring, there are too many things to do for one to feel terribly grumpy about not being where one thinks one should be in life. Being too busy to be bothered by reality helps a bit. So does cuddling baby peepers before they settle down for sleep. You should try it. Chickens are much more entertaining than expected.