Monday, October 5, 2009

The Oasis For Misfit Chickens

The Oasis For Misfit Chickens

When I awoke this morning and looked out the window to see this, snow weighing the bows of the willow tree almost to the ground, I almost burst out into a Christmas carols - "Oh, the fire is slowly dieing and my dear we're still goodbying but as long as you love me so... let it snow let it snow let it snow. " There is something special about the first real snow that sets off a chorus of music in my head. But instead of grabbing the CD player for Christmas music, I went to the basement and stoked the fire and wondered about our misfits, at the corrals. With the snow outside and Christmas carols playing in my head I couldn't help but think of the island of misfit toys in the Rudolf The Red-nosed Reindeer movie. But instead of toys, we have a mottley crew of chickens that just don't fit in. Our corral area is an island or oasis for the old, ugly, or timid.

There's Gertie who is as ugly as they come and who's never had tail feathers. Then she lost the ones on her back to some viscous hen pecking and they've never returned making her uglier than ever. She keeps to herself though there are other chickens about and acts like someone is always out to get her. Not even Eggburt and his little harem of three hens, that belongs to the neighbors who come over occasionally to visit, will claim poor ugly Gertie.

There's another rooster, Sinbad, an ancient black Australorp, who's also the neighbors, that lives with us now since Eggburt drove him off. He will eat beside Gertie but won't claim her as one of his own hens despite the fact that he has none. I don't get it since he's missing half of all his toes from frostbite and isn't exactly a prize himself.

Then there is Zorro who hasn't a brave feather on his body or a brain cell in his head. Just lots of feathers.

He is the only rooster we've had that actually crows, " cock a doodle doo". Every one else says, "err err err err errrrr". Speaking of crowing, Sinbad has to be disappointed now that we've started hauling hay and the shed is no longer empty. He'd strut through the open space crowing for all he was worth. The metal sides would resonated with the sounds giving the illusion that he was much larger. I know it made him feel more masculine by the way he held up his head and march with dignity.

I kept thinking the dumb Polish chicken wouldn't be around much longer since he hasn't any smarts but here he is so Kirk christened him yesterday with the name, Zorro. The name makes us laugh and Zorro has done that over the summer with his large bald spot on his head. We began to think his feathers would never grow in on his crown but finally at the end of the summer they started to grow. I've never been able to teach him to sleep in the hay barn so he perches on top the roosters small coop at night.

With five inches or so of snow on the ground, I wondered if the misfits had found the new place in the hay shed I'd prepared for them the night before. It was just a couple hay bales that held up the plastic that covered the hay stack. It gave them a place to crawl under and stay dry with hay bales all around to insulate them from the cold. I found Zorro sopping wet on top the roosters coop this morning, too dumb to go find shelter, and so tonight I'll wait until he roosts on top and try to catch him. Maybe he needs his own spot in the shed. I'll try.

But it was Mildred that I was really worried about. She's the Cochin from the garden. When I put her into the hens coop the residents once again began singling her out for torture so, I let her loose to run with the misfits.

I managed to catch her last night at evening chores and toss her into the hay shed. I worried she wouldn't stay with Gertie and Sinbad but this morning it looked like she must have, for she was dry.

Tonight, I will begin feeding the oasis of misfits inside the hay shed and hopefully they will have found a home. Just as the island of misfit toys found a home in the end of Rudolf The Red-nosed Reindeer.

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