Freedom Day

We are amateur poultry keepers. We have 5 chickens– two, unfortunately beleaguered, hens and 3 roosters. Wasn’t intentional. We got an early Saturday morning phone-call–a friend had reserved us chicks at a local feed-mill. So we hurried to Home Depot to buy      wood for the evolving design of a tiny coop for these little birds. It had been years since I kept an aviary full of inches and canaries, or my cockatoo pair who had a room of their own complete with tree from an old tree’s trunk set in cinderblocks..at any rate we flew into poultry raising with virginal enthusiasm and abandon..enthralled at the idea of fresh eggs every day…and the bountiful free fertilizer for our vegetable garden..we hoped they would be avian weeding machines as well…Many of our dreams came true. We had eggs. We did, however lose most of our hens..and four of those to the family Labrador retriever who innocently found catching these feathered Frisbees fun but confusing– because why wouldn’t they “throw themselves” once caught… There were neighborhood foxes who got lucky and mysterious disappearances. We had built a gorgeous Chicken Palace outside attached to the back of our barn complete with nest boxes big enough to be filled by 6 hens. Branches for real roosting…Soon the number of birds and an especially wet autumn combine dot make this enclosure a mucky stinky mess. Thus the new design of an indoor Hen Palace with a lower condo  for two pot bellied pigs.

Snow began to fall and not one chicken would stick his or her beak the teeniest bit outdoors. The barn–which doubles as our work-shop where frames and boxes and other wood projects are created for my photography—soon became another stinky mucky mess. This was not like parakeets at all.

This weekend past we went out there with our boots on to chicken proof the area.

By nightfall all birds were captured and locked in. Today dawned warm and thawing. January at its least offensive in CNY. I opened their door to feed them this morning. When I went back into the house and looked out my kitchen sink window, I saw a stream of hysterical birds pouring from the barn–surely more than the original 5 whose body language seemed to shout “we’re FREE! we”re Free!”  Pigs in hot pursuit. I did not realize back in 2006 when I entered the poem “Scoop” about my ex-husband’s pet rooster who mothered all the stray kittens on their farm, when he was a kid, that one day I, too, would witness the peculiarly endearing antics of my own chickens..nor that they would be featured subject matter for many special orders in my photography business. See my website to meet them in person or Google me  on the Syracuse Post-Standard’s website “National League of American Penwomen winners 2006” to read “Scoop” and other animal pieces.

Rachael Z. Ikins  www.rachaelzikins.com  justaskrache@aol.com

Soon enough winter was upon us.

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