Hen House Diaries
Goldie was obsessed about finding out what the four little chicks eat. This afternoon we were all in the garden digging for worms when she announced that she had a plan to sneak into their coop and take a look at their food. We hens—Sunshine, Peanut, Goldie and I all waited in the bushes until the chicks left for their afternoon dirt bath. While they lazed in the sun, Goldie ran through the tomato bed and crept up the ramp to the coop. She immediately saw their food bowl, waddled over and took a bite. As we all watched, she took another bite and another. Soon she was face first into the feeder gobbling the food.
We were lost in the moment when a long, dark shadow slowly moved across the door. Oh, no. Mama! I wanted to scream, “Run!” but nothing came out of my beak. “Goldie! Why are you eating the chicks’ food? Out!” she cried.” Goldie froze so Mama took the feeder and helped her out of the coop.
I figured that as long as Mama was there I would ask her why the chicks got different food. She told me that babies eat a ground starter meal that is high in protein for growing and medicated to keep them from getting diseases like coccidiosis which can kill them. Mama said that chicks can’t eat our big girl food because it has lots of calcium in it for laying eggs and that would damage their little kidneys.
Mama asked if I had any other questions, gave me a nice scratch and went back to work. I told Goldie what I learned and she felt bad that she ate their food. “Hey, Brownie—it tasted really good! Maybe I’ll grow.” I didn’t tell her that she was already big enough and didn’t need to grow anymore.
We hens of Sunflower Sentry Garden are healthy and strong and eat very well. Maybe too well. Just take a look at our fat little bottoms as we waddle through the garden in search of worms and bugs.
Want to know our secret? Mama feeds us crunchy, organic feed pellets filled with vitamins and minerals, and crushed shells for the calcium we need to lay our eggs. We also eat corn tortillas, fresh greens and organic vegetables and fruits sent by the school chef after the kids finish their daily lunches. During the winter and on cold days, Mama gives us our favorite chicken scratch made from different seeds and dried corn to keep us warm. Truthfully, we are pigs when it comes to scratch and would probably eat it until we popped.
All of us love fruit—watermelon, cantaloupe, apples and pears. Plus, vine-picked tomatoes and strawberries are over the moon wonderful—but please, nothing from the supermarket.
Here is my question. What is Mama feeding the four chicks? They seem to get bigger every day. Some mornings she opens their door and exclaims, “Did you grow overnight? You chaps are huge!” Ms Ana, our Auntie says she has never seen chicks grow so fast or big and she used to raise chickens on her farm in El Salvador. So tell me, Mama, what is the secret?
Hey! Where are all the kids? Someone said that they were on vacation whatever that means but we have a blog to get started. So, guess I’ll do it until we can find them.
Did you know that we have four chicks living at the far end of the coop? They are cute and I’m sure we will all get along once they grow up and move in with us girls. Mama doesn’t know this, but they cry at night. Every noise scares them and they huddle together to protect each other. I get up and sit below their coop window and sing to them. It takes a while but they settle down and go to sleep.
Did you know that we chickens like being sung to? Really! It’s so soothing. Mama sings to us hens. We all fall asleep in her arms. When I was really sick a few weeks ago, she always held me for a long time and sang softly. I felt so safe and happy when she was taking care of me.
During the daytime, the chicks sing to each other while they bask in the warm sun. It is so sweet. Maybe they will sing to me some time soon.