Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Tenzing roosting alone at night on the back porch
Two years ago, at the farm store, I saw tiny blue chicks for the first time, ever. They were blue with yellow caps, and so tiny! I had to have one, even though I did not know what breed of chicken they were. For some time, I observed the tub of bantam chicks for sale. There were four or five different breeds mixed together and I did not recognize any of them. One blue chick distinguished itself from all the others by being the most vital. It also seemed to be the most intelligent as it interacted with the other chicks and the limited environment. It was simply more "engaged" in whatever it was doing. So, I chose it. Of course, I was hoping it would be blue when it grew up.
Of the three chicks I chose that day, they turned out to be Tenzing Norgay, a Porcelain D'Uccle and the dominate hen of my flock today, and two Partridge Cochin roosters, Big Man and Sweetie Peep. I have chronicled my adventures with them throughout my blog. Big Man was the funniest chicken I have ever known, and I loved him so much, but I had too many roosters. Since I can not eat my pets, I had to give them away. I believe I found a good home for the roosters but I am not sure how much longer they survived. I no longer ask the girl who has them, just in case she might have bad news. Only the little blue chick, Tenzing Norgay, remains of the original three.
As you may recall, Tenzing was able to fly to the cage door as soon as her real feathers came in. She quickly learned to fly to the door the second it opened, and apparently simply liked to sit in my hand because she was not rewarded with food for this. She was roughly the size of a meadow lark and so cute. The two roosters would run around in the cage in a panic. They never figured out that my hands were not predators, or that they too could fly to the door. Tenzing was, wings down, far smarter than those silly little roosters.
She continues to distinguish herself, though there are five other Porcelaine D'Uccle hens in the flock now. They all started out as blue chicks with a spot of yellow on their heads. Now they are white hens with splotches of blue around their necks. Each one is marked a bit differently so I can tell them all apart. Tenzing is a loner. She found her old cage stacked on the back porch early this summer and began laying her eggs in there. (She can get into the back porch the same way the dog does - through the dog door.) She prefers that cage as her roost at night. All the other chickens go into the pen at twilight, but Tenzing goes to her solitary roost on the back porch. Since she is not penned with the others at night, she always has her freedom during the day. I do not have the heart to throw her in with the others. I understand about needing solitude and space.
Of all the chickens, she seems to understand that I am her friend and protector. As soon as she hears my voice she comes running and tags along behind me. She knows I will have food but I think she also remembers that I have amazing powers that can expand her world.
Sunday, the cold rain necessitated a change where I store the chicken feed. The flock has been kept penned up due to the slinking coyote recently spotted several times just a few feet from the pen. Since I no longer scatter the chicken feed in the driveway so I did not expect Tenzing to be out in the cold rain, but when she heard me, she came running. She followed me around the house several times as I moved the bins of food to the back porch. It was unusual that she followed behind me for such a long time. Even a genius chicken like Tenzing only has an attention span of.... well, not very long. And chickens can be distracted quite easily. Even when they expect food, none of them follow me for more than about thirty feet.
I do not pick her up any more but I still talk to her. I think she would be cold sleeping alone, as all the other chickens snuggle in the nests together for warmth and companionship at night. But, for whatever reason, little Tenzing Norgay prefers a roost of her own choosing, even if it means being alone. I need to find an intelligent, handsome rooster worthy of her.