July 27, 2011

Chickens and Horses

I have always wanted to keep animals--chickens, goats, maybe horses--for many reasons. Self-reliance...certain knowledge of our food source...a work experience for my kids.
But our family has not, as yet, lived on a piece of property where fulfilling that dream would be possible. Thankfully, we have friends who do!

Last Thursday we went road-tripping down the beautiful Bitterroot Valley to a farm full of ducks, turkeys, chickens, and charm where we chose three little pullets to start with. I asked the very knowledgeable chicken lady for breeds that would be gentle and docile; good for children who would want to hold them and hand feed them and chase them...and that is exactly what we got.

Meet our little trio:

Riley chose an Old English Game Bantam Rooster and named him Silver.

Silver is, well, a bit of a cocky little guy (no pun intended), and a very fast runner, but he seems to know that Riley is his boy. 

He is one half a very attached pair. The other is the little hen, also an Old English Game Bantam, that Laurelei chose:
Dainty Grace

Dainty Grace is dainty indeed. She had a little bit of adjustment trauma (maybe heat sickness?) on making the transition from farm to Henderson Homestead, and she wouldn't eat or drink for almost 24 hours. She barely moved, in fact. We thought her leg might be broken...we thought she might die. So Dainty Grace spent two days in our home, being cooed over, constantly watched and gently nursed. 
When she started to lift her head and move a bit, we finally were able to get her to drink some blueberry vitamin water...and she figured life might be worth living.

She spent the rest of her convalescence eating strawberry tops, being carried around in my cardigan pocket, and generally becoming the sweetest most spoiled little house chicken ever. 
(She actually slept while Riley was doing this.)

And then there's my poultry pick:

The mild and meek Rowena Blueclaw, of the Phoenix breed.

I don't know how many of you have ever held a content, sleepy chicken in your hands, but it's heaven. They have this thrumming sort of purr...like a cat, but quieter...they close their eyes and puff out their feathers and breathe slow and deep.

I am fascinated by birds in general, but I've always had an ethical objection to keeping them as pets. (If you could fly, would you want to live your life in a cage?) But Rowena Blueclaw and Silver and Dainty Grace offer the perfect compromise. Chickens of their size can't fly more than a foot or two. And they're not caged at all.
So while the children and I understand that they are not really meant to be 'pets,' I see no harm in loving them while we can.

And oh! We love our chickens!

p.s. The horses I mentioned above are of the Hobby variety. Two new little foals are joining my Etsy herd later today: Willow Runner and Pink Melba. Stop by and pat their noses.


  1. Very cute blog post! I think you have to be a country girl in spirit to understand:) I am a country girl through and through!
    I have raised chickens and my daughter had pet chickens, little red banty's.
    Your children are blessed!
    BTW,I popped over from twitter,glad your link is working now:)

  2. I LOVE the name Rowena Blueclaw and its nod to the Hogwards house founder. So glad that Dainty Grace pulled through!