Wednesday, March 23, 2011

#48 - Pecker & Snookie

Here I am, a grown gal just outside Houston's city limits and I am now living with chickens! Seven REAL chickens to be exact. It is beyond exciting to me because I love, love, love highly fresh eggs and this will finally give me every opportunity to crack open a delectable, incredible egg!

You'd think that being a native Texan would make me kind of an automatic chicken expert, oil-well holder and truck driver, well, two out of three ain't bad...but I've never owned a chicken. I've known plenty of people who do and I envy them, but I will be learning all about chickens very soon.

My husband is the main animal care-taker, but I am relishing the moments I get to sit and hold a little chick in the palm of my hand. To protect myself from future attachment issues, I've not allowed myself to name them...I'm a bit too wise for However, my daughters, my GROWN daughters have named their respective chickens. My oldest daughter, Heather, has decided to give her chicken the honor of being dubbed "Pecker." Yes, she is my Biology degreed daughter from Texas A&M and she is officially the owner of a "Pecker." It's a proud parent moment...What can I say? To top it off, my youngest, Stefie, who is the Child Development Specialist major has decided to name her tiny little chick "Snookie." I suppose it is in honor of the reality show I can't seem to stomach, but have still watched a couple of times with disgusting interest. Augh! Regardless, the chickens seem to be providing our own little reality entertainment. For now, they are residing in my master bathroom garden tub with a heat lamp overhead. They've been alive for several days and are growing strong, so we must be doing something right. At least we can somewhat follow Tractor Supply's guide on "Taking Care of Your Chicks."

Still, I don't want to get ahead of myself...My adorable little four-year old niece is coming over Friday night and I can't wait to hear what she wants to name "her chicken." I will likely have a flock of Snookies, Peckers and probably a sweet little "Pillow-Pet."

Since I had gone through an especially tough time the past couple of weeks, my husband wanted to do something nice, so he got the chickens I've always wanted. He even spent a straight week outside building an elaborate chicken-tractor that is ultra-cool. Even as a Texas gal, I have never seen one of these, until now. Have I mentioned that my husband is ultra-talented in many areas? Obviously this includes chicken coup construction.

I have a little hurdle though - a bit of a hitch. I live in a neighborhood with restrictions and this has its drawbacks when you want to own chickens. My husband and I are taking a walk on the wild side here because we are blatantly breaking all the rules by having chickens. I know all the lectures about neighborhood restrictions protecting property values, blah, blah, blah, but I am in chicken-heaven. This is when the 15-year old in me re-emerges. My family has always been law-abiding, helpful, friendly neighbors, but I guess we have a horrid, dark side willing to break restrictions so we can enjoy our chickens. My guilt-complex is already in motion. I can imagine the chicken-police showing up at our door as I hold out my wrists for the cuffs and yelling, "Yes, I admit it! The smuggled chickens are out back. Where's the paddy-wagon?"

Actually, the difficult part for me with going against the rules is that we own acreage, but it is about 1.5 hours from Houston. So, we cannot leave animals out there to fend for themselves. We cannot live there full-time until my husband retires, in about two years. For now, we must be patient and hide our chickens. As a courtesy, since we are such AWESOME neighbors, we did not buy a loud rooster. It's strange, we already have major flocks of noisy birds in our backyard and in the surrounding neighbor's backyards - shrubs, trees, everywhere are birds - we all have bird feeders in our backyards and they work. For some reason, we are fairly confident that our chickens will be well-behaved and not very noticeable. However, if they are not completely unnoticeable, we've let our neighbors and our good friends around us know that we are certainly willing to bribe them with a weekly delivery of "farm-fresh" eggs laid in the suburbs. Thankfully, we are indeed friends with all of our neighbors, even the neighbor directly behind our house who resides on a separate street. We are neighborly people. I hope this will extend the welcome mat for my precious chickens, named or not.

For now, we are trying to keep our Australian Shepherd from doing anything but protect and herd the chicks. I've been pretty darn impressed by his gentle nature. Our other dog, a mixed breed, has part-Collie in her and she nearly licks the chicks to death, but she is in full-nurturing mode. Every night she lays in her bed crying and yearning to be with her "babies." Eventually, the chickens will be big enough to run around as "free-range" chickens in our backyard and to be endlessly herded by the shepherd. I hope they continue to live strong and to grow so that they can lay eggs in a few months time. I'll keep you posted.

First thing first, back to this coming weekend...the chickens must survive the four-year old visitor and her naming ritual which will surely having me rolling on the ground in hysterics.

This is too much fun. Why didn't I break the rules years ago?

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