Tuesday, March 25, 2014

There's a Hen on Your Head!

Keeping our energetic girls entertained is no easy feat.  Everyday I am searching for activities to keep them busy. When I ask them to play on their own it turns into running around the house chasing one another or using the couches as a jungle gym.

Then the Goldhen Girls came along and what a blessing they have been.  Now, if I find myself desperately searching for an activity to keep them at bay for 20 minutes I tell them to go play with the chickens.  During this chicken time the girls have created several games they like to play and I would like to highlight two of my favorite events to spectate. 

(Note: No chickens are harmed during these games.)

Game #1: The Human Roost
The goal is to get all three chickens to roost on your arms.  One sister stands still with her arms out-stretched while the other sister catches the chickens then places them on their arms. This game involves a lot of chasing and a lot patience by all participants. 

Game #2: There's a Hen on Your Head!
Just the other day The Human Roost evolved into what I call "There's a Hen on Your Head!"  It is quite simple. All the girls do is take a chicken and balance it on their head.  Hilarious, but kind of disgusting.  I complimented the girls on their game creativity, but had to end this event quickly due to cleanliness. And for those of you who are wondering, yes, I gave the girls a good scrub down in the bath afterward. 

Thank you, Goldhen Girls, for this gift of entertainment you have given us.  And for any parent out there that is constantly searching for entertaining and life learning activities for your children, just get some chickens.  As you can tell by the size of our hens, it is almost time for them to move to the backyard.  I can only imagine the new games that our girls will create once the Goldhen Girls are permanently outside. Whatever it is, I am sure it will be quite entertaining.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Bitty Bantam

While Little Chicken Tender took to the Goldhen Girls instantly, the Bitty Bantam, our almost 3-year-old, was quite the opposite.  Right away she liked the chickens, but they definitely made her nervous. Every time she would spend time with them she would smile and giggle, but would never pick one up. Instead she would pet a chick while someone else was holding one. And their poop, well, she was quite disgusted.

After a few weeks of the Goldhen Girls being home, the Rooster and I watched the Bitty Bantam's confidence grow. With a serious look on her face she would lean into the brooder box and barely pick up a chick around the middle and quickly drop it back inside.  Then one day it finally dawned on me to just place one in her lap while she was sitting and see what happened.  Boy, was that a game changer!

It took only one time of putting the Goldhen Girls in her lap to make her feel comfortable and she now confidently picks them up and handles them just like her big sister.  Our Bitty Bantam is quite proud of her accomplishment.  Now for their poop, she still has the same sentiment. 

Thanks for reading about our chicken adventure!  

Monday, March 10, 2014

Turning a Suburban Dog into a Chicken Lover

For those of you who have not met our 8-year-old yellow labrador, Kramer, he is as sweet as dogs come.   Just like his namesake, Cosmo Kramer from Seinfeld, he is goofy, clumsy and not at all intimidating.  We didn't have much anxiety about him meeting and getting along with the Goldhen Girls because he truly gets along with any person or animal he meets. The chickens ganging up on him is much more likely to happen than him going after the chickens. 

We introduced Kramer to his new feathered friends the day after we brought them home.  We weren't sure how he would react to birds in his garage so for the initial meeting my husband held tight to Kramer as the girls and I watched over the chickens.  As soon as he took notice to the chicks he went on high alert. He stood paralyzed with his ears perked forward looking like a hunting dog who was waiting for the command from his master to retrieve the bird he just shot.  After a few minutes of calmly talking to Kramer and allowing him to sniff the chicks a bit, we wrote it off as a successful meet-and-greet and ushered him back inside the house.

We have made sure that Kramer spends time with our Goldhen Girls every day since they have been home and he has relaxed quite a bit.  Now when he  comes to see the chicks he moseys on over to the brooder box, sticks his head in, sniffs a few times and then loses interest quickly.  To be honest, I think he only pays them a visit now because he thinks he may be able to swipe some of their food. Typical labrador.

Now with all that being said, I just recently read an article called Even Good Farm Dogs Make Mistakes from the Backyard Poultry Magazine that really made me think about how we will successfully integrate Kramer with our chickens once they are in the backyard.  As good as he is, there may come a time when he gives in to his animals instincts and attacks or plays too rough with the chickens.  We won't take that chance and will be supervising them when they are roaming freely together.  

The bottom line: We like our chickens very much, but are definitely looking out for Kramer.  We will make sure he isn't totally kicked out of his backyard once the girls move outside which is approaching quickly.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Our Little Chicken Tender

The Rooster and I have been pleasantly surprised at how our daughters have taken to the Goldhen Girls, particularly our 5-year-old daughter.  She handles the chicks with a natural ease and has happily taken responsibility for a lot of the "chicken chores." She helps feed them daily and even begs to clean up chicken poop! We now dub her our Little Chicken Tender and she wears the name proudly.

When handling the chicks, Little Chicken Tender makes sure she spends equal time with each one.  She starts with one chick, cradles her, talks to her, plays with her and then moves on to the next.  If we would let her, Little Chicken Tender would continue for hours with this rotation of care, but the Rooster and I usually have to coax her away once we see the Goldhen Girls growing tired.  Just the other day Little Chicken Tender was in the middle of her chicken handling routine when she calmly announced, "Mom, Edna just pooped on me."  I was quite impressed with her composed reaction because this poop was everywhere; all over her hand and on Nelly Dean. She quietly cleaned herself up and then went back to playing with the chicks as if nothing happened. Now that's a farm girl for you! 

Little Chicken Tender's diligence in handling the Goldhen Girls has paid off because now they like to be held and are eating from the palms of our hands.We are so proud of our Little Chicken Tender and we hope this is just the beginning of a new found passion. Who knows? Maybe having a backyard flock will one day lead her to become a local farmer, a vet, an animal rights advocate or simply to have a deeper respect for animals. Whatever it may be, dream big and follow your passion, Little Chicken Tender.  We are here to support you.

Our family petting the Goldhen Girls in the brooder box
Illustrated by Little Chicken Tender

Thanks for reading!