Acquired: Breeder (non-professional, hobby breeder),
Posted Jun 03, 2015
I really am a fan of chickens, probably for any number of reasons. To me, they rather stand for a sense of home, as I've seen them scurrying around on open land or nudging their chicks to safety. Images come to mind of eggs being gathered and feed being strewn to hungry hens. Even roosters, with all their loud and proud boisterous behavior, have a place in such a serene setting. Although I was born in Miami, a city in every sense of the word, it was not uncommon to run across chickens, whether it was in areas zoned for certain animals or not. What did impress me as a teenager was meeting a friend's grandparents who kept a miniature hen in their home. She often perched on the shower curtain rod in the bathroom, and was trained to come to a call in spanish from the grandfather, swooping right to his shoulder! Also interesting was her training to run out back with the several chihuahuas when it was time to go outside. This being said, I kind of kept that idea in the back of my mind for many years, especially when I moved to North Carolina and considered my options for living in the country.
I did meet a woman who raised many different chickens of her own, and often helped her with some of the work around her house. She offered me one of the new chicks that had hatched and provided the housing, with heat lamp included, if I would take the little chick. Of course, the clincher was her insistence that this would be a miniature hen. I really didn't need much more convincing at that point. However, within the very first week, that chick was knocking into the heat lamp, which I kept raising. She was outgrowing her living space in less than two weeks, a very sturdy, yellow, peeping fluffy friend. It did not take me very long to realize that no, this was not a miniature variety, but I was happy all the same to have this smart and docile creature looking to me like I was the mom. This is when I decided to just go with the flow, keeping her as an indoor chicken. Does this sound strange? Probably, but I've never been absolutely conventional.
I began to use a large empty parrot cage I had for her roosting area. She did roam free inside at times, but with wood floors, I didn't have to worry if she made a mess here or there. Most often, we were able to go outside together, where she stayed close and learned to forage for small insects and bits of grass and weeds. To take our bond even further, you'd be likely to see her standing or sitting in the front passenger seat of my car on errands. This goes to show that chickens, as pets, are loyal and smart beings in their own right. She was apt to hide from new people she wasn't familiar with, but it didn't take her long to come on out and greet company, sitting in laps if she felt really comfortable.
I really did not have negative experiences with my "Henny", except that she was very territorial about her living space. If she wasn't quite ready for you to stick a hand in there to give her some food and water, or clean up, she'd kick and puff up just like a rooster ready to fight. But let's chalk that up to her belief that this was her domain, and you just couldn't enter any old time without fair warning!
I do have to say our time together was fun and I did cherish her companionship. However, the time came when I had to move, and I would not have been able to take her to my next residence. Fortunately, I had a good neighbor with lots of land and a whole flock of chickens. I was able to bring her over there. She became the resident hen of the garage, because of course I had spoiled her and kept her inside. For awhile there, she might have believed those other chickens were aliens, but she learned to adjust in order to have her freedom and a family of her own. Although I really missed her at first, I was glad she had a natural and nurturing environment to spend the rest of her life in.