My mom, the Ponderosa Queen, had chickens when I was younger. I was still in elementary school and my feeling towards those chickens was that of love… and hate. They smelled, they had to be fed, they had to be locked up at night and let out first thing in the morning. Being the only kid around, chicken care, it seemed, was always my job. The chicken coop was located a couple hundred yards from our old white farmhouse. It was a ancient coop, small with peeling white paint. The attached yard was hardly predator proof so eventually Mom’s chickens had free range of our spread. I can’t remember the details of their arrival of course, but I do recall that there were two roosters, one large regal rooster that matched the rest of the hens and one orange fuzzy headed rooster that matched no one and was clearly an outcast. What do you do with a orange, fuzzy headed rooster that none of the other fowl likes? Why, you name him, of course. Fufu, the Ponderosa Queen dubbed him, or I should same damned him. As a recall, Fufu stuck around for less than 24 hours after being harnessed with his new name. The last time I ever saw Fufu, he was cruising up a dry irrigation ditch either to find a new set of hens or to outrun his name. I’m guessing he found a raccoon or a dog up that irrigation ditch because, either way, we never saw feather nor fluff of Fufu again. This, my friends, is what happens when you name chickens.
That said, Cowboy and I welcomed 10 chickens into our lives on Elk Creek in April. Well, actually I welcomed them and Cowboy tolerated them. Getting and housing these chickens was the single most challenging obstacles for Cowboy and I in our first year of marriage. I insisted on chickens and he resisted on chickens. Check that, he actually only resisted on building me a chicken coop. He knew that if I got a coop, I would definitely get chickens, not just allow my attention to drift onto the next entertaining endeavor. I called his bluff and then his grandpa, and needless to say, my chicken coop was finished the next week. We now have 8 Rhode Island Reds and 2 Ameraucanas — ranging in age from pullets to almost two years old. No chicks, no roosters, no messing around. I needed grown-up, egg-producing survivor chickens that would be able to brave the weather and predator danger that comes with living under a mountain range. And that’s exactly what I got.
“The Girls”, as I call them, have completely taken over our place, and lives. Though chickens are much easier than both Cowboy and I anticipated, there have been a few nights we had to leave friends early to get home and put the chickens in and there is chicken shit on our deck constantly. They have eaten my flowers and we eat their eggs. And now they have taken to watching the livingroom and patio windows. If they see me, they rush the windows, clucking excitedly and waiting for some scraps. Open a door and they are on you like, well, stink on chicken shit. I am being held hostage in my own house by chickens. Originally, they were shy and reserved. Walk towards them and they would move. Now, at a high trot, they follow anyone who dares to enter our yard, sqwacking their case for food, especially any form of cheap, white carbohydrates. They have the dogs completely buffaloed and our cat now believes that she is one of them, and has been seen more than once eating scraps amongst our small flock. They move out of the way of the vehicles only if they feel so inclined and have very little respect for brooms, shovels or water sprayed from a hose. And while the pheasants that once ate amongst them have moved on and likely been eaten, the Elk Creek Chicken Militia soldiers on, eating anything in sight and producing eggs and chickens poop at an alarming rate.
Maybe I should name them afterall…