Monday, April 9, 2012

It Felt Good

The Meatballs are four weeks old today.  Up until now, they have been spending their days outside as much as possible, first in the chicken tractor, which quickly became too small, then in the chickens' run, which was great except all the OTHER chickens couldn't use it (they would steal the Meatballs' food).  No matter where they were during the day, they still spent their nights in the brooder, albeit with the light off.  They haven't needed the extra heat, and I've been trying to "toughen" them up for their move outside.  The weather has not been the most cooperative, so it's been difficult to judge.  However, I think today I bite the bullet and they move outside to their final home.

After I put them out (carrying them a few at a time in a laundry basket, mind you-not the lightest job in the world), I sat and spent a few minutes with them to watch them and see if they would settle in nicely.

Of course, quite a few went right for the all-you-can eat buffet...

Some went for the open bar...

And a couple chose to sunbathe.

But you know what I saw when I watched them?  That most of everything I've ever heard about these birds is untrue.  I've heard they're stupid, and I've heard they're lazy.  I've heard that their "chickeness" has been bred right out of them, and they do nothing  but lay around all day long.  None of that is true.  First of all, they're not stupid, not by any means.  They know exactly who I am.  Now that they are on 12 hours on/12 hours off with food (trying to prevent heart attacks here), they know that when when I walk in the door, it's time to eat, so they come rundling*.   They don't do that for anyone else here.  And they seem to trust me, and that's not stupid.  Stupid is flying into an insane crazy frenzy when you're approached by anyone and everyone.  They don't do that. 

This guy let me pet him a little

And then he was quickly joined by a friend

And then some more friends.

I don't know if they're close enough

So no, not stupid.  Lazy?  Let's look at that for a second.  These chickens have been bred by man to put on as much weight as possible in a very short time.  Their frames are heavy.  It's not easy for them to move.  I have noticed that when they are in the brooder, which is pretty crowded and there isn't anything to do but eat, all they do is eat.  But put them outside, it's a whole other story.  They do the same things other chickens do, only in short bursts.  They do scratch, they do sunbathe, they take dirt baths, and they do rundle* around with tasty morsels in their beaks.  The big difference that I can see is that they sit down quite a bit more.  But you put on a lot of weight and tell me that you're just as active as a skinny person.  Ain't gonna happen. 

Curious about the tape measure
Do I know if they're going to be smart and curious and "chickeny" when they get older?  Nope.  But I can say that maybe we all need to watch a little more closely.  Maybe we can all learn something in the meantime.

The biggest observation I made today?  They looked very happy.  And you know what?  That made me happy.   The nicest thing about farming, I think, has been how many opportunities it has afforded me to feel just really happy.  Deep-down-right-in-my-soul happy.  It's quite a feeling.

I'd like to think I'll do right by them before it's their time to go.  I think that would be quite an achievement.

*post signature
*Rundling/to rundle--a cross between running and waddling.  Didn't know that?  That's because I made it up!


  1. They look very comfortable. I know it's important to research the breeds and different animals, but I also know you should go with your gut and just do what you feel is right :)

  2. Such a wonderful post. I so agree with you about these wonderful birds. I let mine out to roam the grounds and they scratch and peck all day. Only in the hot Texas afternoon when the sun is high, do they take a break to settle underneath the trees. They are wonderful companions! Loved this post!

  3. They are getting so big! I hadn't heard anyone say these birds were stupid. On the contrary. Like you, I used to not confine mine and let them graze and scratch and just be able to move around. They had far less leg problems that way. You are doing so well - and so are they : )

  4. Rundling - Love it, it's very fitting!


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