They talk to you, they really do.
We have about twenty-five chickens on our small farm and two roosters. One rooster is very large and obviously, the leader of the brood. His name is Mick Jagger. When he sings in the morning at sunrise, you understand why he is named such a name. He has a beautiful, loud song.
Since, I am responsible for the kitchen and meals for our crew’s home, I notice if we have eggs or if we don’t.
For a couple of months, we were getting about fifteen eggs a day. The weather was cool; there was moisture in the air and fresh soil in the garden filled with spring bugs and delightful insect cuisine.
Once our plant-starts were in the garden beds and peeking through the soil, they quickly became a favorite source of nourishment for the flock, much to our dismay.
Don’t set your chicken coop near the garden as they can easily fly over a seven-foot fence. Quickly, garden starts are destroyed from claws scratching in the dirt looking for bugs or by merely dining on the foliage of all lettuce or tomato plants. It is better to establish their domain far away from the chance of discovering the garden. They will travel long distances on the property to get to those tasty morsels growing right above the soil.
Mick Jagger, our rooster, got into the habit of walking up to our porch looking for bits of food, checking dog dishes and possible food scraps that I may have tossed out the side window, like I do sometimes. I could see that the chickens enjoyed the treats and I was having fun playing, getting to know their personalities.
There was one problem though. They made a mess whenever they came up on the front porch of the house. They would leave a trail of chicken “doo-doo” each time they came to visit. It was really awful. I loved to chat with them and give them treats but the necessary cleaning duty afterwards, quickly became old and not much fun.
After a bit of contemplation, I decided to put some effort into making the chickens more comfortable in their own environment and less inclined to make the long journey up the hill to our house.
I made a commitment to take kitchen food scraps down to their pen each day after I prepared a meal for the household. Fortunately, once I started doing this, they stopped traveling up to the house to look for treats or dog food left in bowls.
Chickens looooove scraps from the kitchen. Each day when I tended to them, they would walk up and look in my pan. If I didn’t have a pan full of scraps in my hand when I came to visit, I could see a bit of disappointment in their walk and a head hung low in Mick’s saunter.
It felt bad when I showed up empty handed, so, I made it a point to give them a pan of scraps at least once a day. Even if I had to hold a tiny bit back for the next day, adding to the following day’s treats. It just didn’t feel right going to the hen house without scraps.
When the weather began to turn hot, mid-summer, the amount of eggs available to gather became less. Now, we were down to seven a day, instead of the usual fifteen. I was busy cooking for a hard-working crew that loved to have their eggs in the morning and our breakfast pan was beginning to look a little grim.
Something had happened that greatly impacted the chickens. I had to research and discover what I could do to fix it. Thank heavens for google. Quickly, I found answers to my concerns and questions.
I discovered that chickens are immensely sensitive to heat and dry weather. They sweat through their feet and the crown that sits above their head, the little red corneal on the top of their skull.
If they are not getting enough moisture into their feet or on top of their head, they become dehydrated, very unhappy and stop laying. I had to create a better water system for the girls, bring them more treats and create a place of shade near their coop.
Once I started to add water to their pool each visit, twice a day and brought more treats for their food dish, things began to turn around in a radical way.
I discovered that chickens talk to you, they really do.
As long as I stayed consistent and continued to care for their needs according to the weather and with a generous spirit, their appreciation for my efforts and love for me began to grow and grow.
Within one week, we went from gathering six to eight eggs a day to slowly building up to twelve, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five until I was gathering thirty-eggs a day and finally, settling at fifty per day within a couple of weeks.
I was astonished as I watched this happen.
By the sixth day of this experiment, it became obvious to me that they were thanking me through the number of eggs they were laying for me each day.
When I first began to work with the chickens, they would cry, scream and flutter about as I walked into the coop or pen to feed, water and gather the eggs. It would cause such mayhem whenever I would step inside.
However, once I began providing areas of water, a pool and damp area for them to walk and play in the heat, they realized that I was their friend, their ally. Soon, they stopped fluttering and scurrying about as they clucked and cooed, and began to casually part the way as baby chicks ran circles around my feet, singing “hello cosmic mama”.
I could see that my efforts were making an impact and that they were attempting to communicate with me about the recent changes. They became more and more alive; each personality, each sweet little hen, and the proud, brave rooster who sang a cock-a-doodled-doo-doo song all day long.
Usually, when I would go to gather eggs, I would find about two to three hens laying eggs. But on the seventh day of this rhythm, there were eight hens laying eggs, quietly sitting in their boxes. You could see that they were enjoying the new lush environment and very, very happy.
As I approached the hens, I hesitated and tuned in to make sure that it was the right time to gather. I would usually wait for two or three hens to finish sitting on their eggs and bounce out of their box before I would take an egg. But on this day, I noticed that the hens had a special kind of “coo” in their cluck as they sat on their nests.
I also noticed that a couple of hens had moved back about an inch off their nest of eggs so that I could see the bounty of eggs that they had just laid for me.
“Really?” I asked the group of hems humming quietly on their nests in front of me.
“Really” they cooed back to me as they slowly glided back and revealed a few more golden eggs beneath them, in each of the boxes.
Standing in front of the hens, I clasped my hands in gratitude and bowed my head for the gentle, generous way in which they were showing their appreciation.
I was deeply, deeply touched.
Slowly, I reached my hand down to into the box of the hen sitting quietly in front of me. Carefully, I reached for the egg, and took it from the nest. In that moment, she slid back another inch. Resting behind the egg that I had picked up was another “golden” egg.
I smiled. Slowly, I reached down and picked up the second egg. A soft coo came from the hen. I giggled and thanked her and complimented her on the beauty of the eggs she had just laid.
Moving towards to the next box, I could see that there were three eggs resting beside this hen. Slowly, I reached down and picked up each egg and carefully placed it in my basket. Instantly, she moved back a tiny bit more to reveal a fourth egg.
I praised her for the generous gift she gave to show her appreciation and thanked her for her love. She clucked a happy cluck and settled back in to her nest to watch while I moved on to the next box.
With the third box, I watched the hen slide to the side and reveal three eggs. I was blown away at the deliberate, conscious, immediate and timely move. Fascinating to experience such conscious interaction with these hens.
As I slowly removed the eggs from her nest, thanking her, suddenly, a beam of love went straight into the center of my chest. I gasped when I realized what was happening in that moment as I stood frozen and deeply touched. Immense, over-whelming love was being sent into my heart from each of the hens consciously sharing with me.
Fresh eggs for everyone!