Monday, April 14, 2008

Double Edged Chicken Situation

Having chickens in your garden means to hours of viewing fun. Closer to humans than plants, our feathered friends allow us to constantly interpret their behavior in ways that are probably more engaging (to a self-serving end) than accurate. Anthropocentrism, yay!

The soap opera of chicken life unfurls daily for us.

About last month, our proud brown native couple Diego and Diega went a-missing, but only after laying a second batch of eggs. These eggs were themselves laid in another hen's nest. Thus, our white female chicken is now tottering around with twelve or so chicks, more than half of whom do not look like her at all. I wonder if she knows-- or cares.

One of the chicks (my favorite) had a blind and infected eye. It was, at one point, half the size of his siblings due to malnutrition. As of yesterday, it has gone missing, presumably eaten by a snake or a cat.

Chickens enrich my daily life with stories, and the soil with their droppings. However, since letting them loose, they have scratched every known surface, trampled on all my young plants, and removed mulch from just about everywhere.

A few days ago, I tried putting one group of plants under a cage-- the one we used for them when they were newly hatched-- but someone removed it, and the hen knocked my plants down with the usual vigor.

As co-existence leads to compromise, I'm looking for ways to adapt to this motley crew. Pondering on their nature hopefully will lead me to some win-win design solutions.

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