I hope I never lose my sense of wonder. If that makes me naive, then so be it.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

little red

We have drama in the henhouse. Bullying, even. And it's all my fault.

When I ordered my last group of chickens for meat, I decided to try a new breed. I'd always gone with the Cornish white rock birds, who love to eat and will get to roaster size some eight weeks after hatching - though we deliberately slow this down by encouraging them to be outside running around and eating grass. It seems to keep them healthier, and I prefer to take ours to market around 10 weeks of age. This new breed was supposed to reach similar weights but take more time to get there.

She knows sitting on me is a safe spot.
Turns out, it was going to take far too long to get there. By the time the group of 70 birds was ready to go, the three of the new breed were all still almost too small to make it worthwhile. The two males went anyway to make two rather small roasters, but the female I decided to keep so that she could live to lay eggs and join the hens. The little red hen moved over to the field coop.

I call her Little Red, but I've been informed by D that her name is Kqabawwie. It's a deliberately confusing, utterly mangled spelling of R's first pronunciation of 'strawberry' when she was a preschooler.

And the other hens, my lovely ladies who purr and run over to see me and take treats from my hands, have been mean to her. Harrassing her so that she hides in a corner. 

When I go over, the hens all run over to see if I've brought them a treat. Once they're milling around, I'll hear the cheep-cheep (she hasn't started clucking yet) from the coop and Red will poke her head around, see me, and run over. It's really quite adorable. 

I know it's part of the pecking order and all, but I feel bad for the little girl. She will fit in, I know, but we go over a few times a day to make sure she gets a chance at food and water. She'll sit on my lap or weave around my feet while I tell the others they really should know better and be nice. They just look at me funny, but maybe it'll sink in.