Monday, March 7, 2011

Chicken on My Head

No lie.  I popped out to the coop this morning to take care of my birds and Ed decided it was a good day to have a little visit.  She hopped up to my shoulder and stood there for a few minutes, pecking at the tassel on my hat, until I decided that I had better move her before one of us got hurt.  Instead of flying away when I put my hand under her feet, she let me move her down so that I could hold her at chest level and pet her for a few minutes.

Ed is unique among my birds in allowing this kind of familiarity.  Most of them are happy enough to see me because they know I usually bring food.  They perpetuate my good behavior by running toward me (as much as they can, considering the fencing) when I come out side, so that if I am treatless I feel compelled to go get a snack to avoid disappointing them. Even so, when I walk into the coop they typically back up or leave, probably out of some primal fear that I'm in the mood for chicken soup.

Sunny Sunflower occasionally makes an exception to this rule, but only for the purpose of pecking my boots (or my back side, if I'm foolish enough to squat down too close to her beak) in order to shoo me away.

Publicity photo of Sunny "Red" Sunflower, c.2010

Ed, however, has cultivated a relationship with us.  It began awkwardly enough. 

File photo of Ed as a baby, back in the days when she was known as Lily.  Or Daisy.  I'm not sure which of the two was her original name.  Just like I'm not sure whether she is the chick on the left or the right.
Despite her beautiful plumage,


Ed has a scissor-beak, which makes it a little more difficult for her to eat.


We had to set up a different feeder for her and she spends a lot more time pecking away at it than the other birds do.  We're pretty sure that she always has food on her mind, and as soon as she sees one of us approaching with food refills, she stations herself near the coop door to make sure she doesn't miss us.  From waiting politely near the door (which is where her feeder is), she progressed to standing in (or on) her feeder, and then to jumping onto the jar of refill food while we were pouring it into the feeder.  For a while, she would ambush us, launching herself at us and flapping wildly in our faces before we were even inside the coop.  Our instinct was to get out of her way, but after the first time she escaped the coop, we  learned that we would have  to stand our ground if we didn't want to spend the next half hour chasing her around the yard.

Lately, though, she has been more mature. She still jumps, but she has learned to land on our hands instead of aiming for our faces, and she accomplishes this with a lot less flapping, which keeps us from freaking out and flapping back at her.  Still, this morning's visit was a pleasant surprise.  It felt almost friendly, from her steady grip on my shoulder to the gentle way she investigated my hat. Chickens are not a pet you choose for emotional fulfillment, but when one breaks the rules of professional detachment, I can't help enjoying the attention.  It's got me thinking about specially engineering a hat that would hold chicken treats and protect my scalp at the same time, and wondering what this oddball chicken will do next.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Aaaaaand, He's Gone.

Just like that.  Almost.  Yesterday we went to the local hardware and bought their one and only Havahart trap in size "rabbit."  I set it up, loaded it with a cracked egg (I knew that would come in handy some day) and some sliced turkey and left it in the coop with Mr. P, who was having a lovely snooze under the nesting box. While he was busy dreaming his little possumy dreams, the rest of us waited.  And waited.  And peeked in through the window now and then.  And waited.

At 6:45 it was dark and half of  the chickens were huddled at the door waiting for it to open so they could go to bed (the other half having gone to bed in the summer coop, which I very thoughtfully left open for them so they wouldn't have to huddle outside a locked door waiting for something miraculous to happen), but Mr. P was still not up. Off I went to my meeting, sprouting some concerns about the removal of this possum.

At 8:15, after my meeting, I called home and was informed that El Husbando was, at that very moment, driving Mr. P to a new home far, far away.  This turned out to be a lie: El Husbando was instead spending a great deal of time trying to move my feather-brained birds who,  apparently stunned into immobility by the sudden and unexpected opening of the coop door, were refusing to reenter their now-possum-free home. But, soon enough he was on his way with Mr. P in tow.  I like to imagine El Husbando taking all sorts of sneaky turns to confuse Mr. P's sense of direction, but I'm pretty sure they drove straight west for 7 miles.  Mr. P must have believed that even a wire cage with an old egg in it was preferable to the great outdoors because he wouldn't leave the trap and El Husbando had to turn the trap straight up and shake it (just a little, he promises) to dump our poor marsupial out. He (Mr. P, that is) wandered off into a field and that is hopefully the last we will see of him.

Not that I would be willing to wager any money on that.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dude: Seriously?

This is what greeted me this morning:

Smile for the camera!!

It's Mr. P, back in his happy place under the nesting box in the coop. In an astonishing turn of events, the chickens are now safely locked out of the coop and Mr. P is locked in, kind of like jail for incurable party crashers. A security task force, consisting of me and Matty, will be visiting the local hardware store after nursery school in order to bring back a humane trap for the express purpose of reassigning Mr. P to a location as far away from my chickens as possible.  The Canine Border Patrol Officer has also been briefed on the current breach of security,


although he is disinclined to act rashly--or indeed at all-- at this juncture.

p.s. I am plagued by the thought that this might be an enterprising Mama Possum looking for a nice place to raise her babies.  I might need therapy to deal with the guilt involved in tossing her freeloading possum hiney back out on the streets. Debating whether retail or chocolate therapy would be more efficacious.