Name: Vandalia (or Vandy for short).
Occupation: I'm a Blue Andalusian. I have been put in with a flock of chickens in a coop and a pen. I crave (and think I deserve) my independence. I have decided that writing might relieve some of the frustration of being all cooped up with a bunch of stinky hens.
Interests: Horticulture, The Classics, Ancient History, Poetry, any story about the struggle for freedom.
Day 148 in prison.
The lady was late giving us the kitchen scraps. There wasn't any lettuce, so no one was interested in it. I didn't even stay to see what else there was, I tried to get the lady's attention and reason with her to let me out. These people think I'm a chicken like the rest of the group. I'll have to try and get up in the coop when she has the door open to check eggs, and then jump to freedom. The Canadian Geese fly over every morning now-- they make such a racket-- but at least they get to travel. If I could just fly...
The wind picked up tonight. It's cold.
Day 150 of confinement.
Today I got soaking wet-- wet to the bone. The driving rain was everywhere outside, despite the wind blocks and tarp that has been put up. Why not just go up into the coop one may ask? Because there is no way to get away from these chickens. Some monitor my every move. If I stealthily make my way up to the coop for a bit of rest, some chicken is bound to be up sooner or later. These chickens all want to do the same things at the same time. Better to be outside where one can find a corner to stand, alone, if but for a few moments. Cold and wet-- this is no life for me! I need to be indoors with a fire in the hearth and my library about me.
Day 151 of repression.
Today we finally were not stuck in the mud. The big guys came and moved the coop and yard over to some fresh grass. It felt very good to eat something still living. There was an interesting piece of white paper that I swallowed whole as well-- the people being unable to snatch it away from me in time. It rained and rained all day. There was some attempt to shelter us from it with tarps and boards, but it doesn't do that much good. I tried to make my case for freedom to the lady again, and she seemed to be listening, but then Ruby came up next to me and "cawed" at her like a crow, and poured out her list of complaints in a henpecking way. Ruby was so very loud, that the lady just said "Oh, quit complaining!" and left. These chickens have no manners and will interrupt all the time.
Day 153 of the pen.
A nice sunny day. Makes life a little nicer, since it rained and blew so hard yesterday. This evening I found out why the eggs disappear all the time. I went upstairs and there was the lady putting them in a dish. She was clucking about how there were only 4 eggs and one hen wasn't laying. I said nothing, and just thought I would poke around a bit, but she said "I know what you are up to!" and she shut the door. Well, of all the nerve! As if she thought I was planning on jumping out and running away or something...
Day 165 all locked up. (April 14th 2012)
A beautiful sunny day, and we are here looking at the greener grass on the other side of the fence. There is still some fuss about the lack of eggs-- we got it down to 2 the other day-- I think that the lady suspects a conspiracy.
There is still talk of letting us free-range, but then there is always a reason given why it isn't convenient-- there's a big dog or a little dog, or a hawk has been sighted, etc. I'm not worried about that-- I can fly and get away if I have to, I'm sure!
The peacock is back and spends a lot of time walking around us. Why would a free bird want to be over here when he could be anywhere?
I spend my nights on the waterer now instead of the roost-- it makes me feel more independent.
Day 166-- was it all a dream? (April 15th 2012)
After writing yesterday morning, something interesting happened. All kinds of noises started up-- horrible noises-- from machines cutting grass all over. We were all rather nervous. Then, the people let us out. They really did this time-- and I hardly knew what to do with my freedom! I ate a bug here, some grass there, wandered this way then turned that way, and had a dust bath--oh the bliss! And right at sunset, four of us decided to camp out under the stars in an open field. It was so peaceful and cool, until some guy came and scooped us up and plopped us back in the chicken yard. I wanted to object but I was so very sleepy...
Day 172-- cooperating
They let us out to free range again yesterday afternoon. They even provided a hawk patrol. I think they are finally getting it. The lady was thrilled to find an egg from the Welsummer, who has not been laying for months. She cleaned the coop out, too. Life may become more tolerable, if this attention keeps up.
Day 174 - the warmth of the sun (April 23rd 2012)
Yesterday and today were very warm. One of the other hens was so insistent on being on the nest when I was sitting on it, despite the sweltering weather, and it made it a lot hotter. Don't these chickens have brains?
One of the eggs broke, and got all over the other eggs, and baked on in the heat.
We were let out this afternoon-- the freedom was wonderful-- and the weather started to cool down and a nice breeze was blowing. Around sunset, everyone clucked about going home to roost, and I got on top of the coop and decided to roost with the wind blowing through my feathers. The lady came out with the bowl of treats, and put it in the pen-- I followed it without thinking. Now we're locked up again. That trick gets me every time!
Me after the 2012 winter molt-- my comb has of course quite large now.
Since the coop has been moved (last year) the internet hasn't worked as well out there. It has been 551 days since I have written. I could have written by wing, but the wood chips that I could have used as paper have been removed and replaced by sand.
My reputation for independence and boldness has waned. I became content with our new lot in life-- the former dog run, which is quite large and well situated. There are fruit bushes, vines, and trees, and room to roam and get away from the others. If I wanted to, I could roost in the trees, but on top of the water box in the coop affords me a comfortable place to repose.
I'm not sure who this sign is for. The dog now leaves us be, but she does sneak in and eat the laying pellets. We still like chicken treats-- whenever the kitchen scraps have a bit of rice, scone, cake, bread, pasta or anything like that, there is heavy competition for it. For some reason the cook throws in a lot of green stuff that just gets in the way of the goodies.
I have managed to influence one of the hens about freedom and independence. Goldie listened to what I had to say, and decided to fly over the fence every single day. She resented her eggs being stolen, and determined to hide her nest. She has done it so successfully; the nest has only been discovered twice. Goldie also has figured out how to stay outdoors all night-- thus she is the early bird that catches the worm in the morning. She has feasted on tomatoes from the garden all summer.
Here I am teaching the others how to get out.
Various people have been assigned to take care of us, feed us, and take our eggs. There have been so many mistakes made by these incompetent and uninterested people who are supposed to be learning "responsibility." Things like forgetting to let us out of the coop until two in the afternoon. In protest, we began making escape tunnels and getting out of the pen. Then when people stopped those up, we protested the taking of our eggs by eating them first. That caused a lot of difficulty. I hear that there is talk of either selling us, or getting 25 more hens to make it "worth it" and to get more eggs. But this is just what little birds tell me.
Day 1,043 of people thinking I'm a chicken.
(Sept. 9, 2014)
I staged a sit-in in the flower bed
It seems like every time we assert our independence, we have a set back. The lady clipped our wings. She was going on some video she found on the Internet, only she hadn't watched said video in a week, so she clipped the wrong part of our wings. While this was uncomfortable, it shouldn't have affected our ability to fly. Then the lady watched the video again, found out her mistake, and came back to finish the job.
But nothing will stop me. I re-taught myself how to fly.
C'mon, just try it!
Fine, you're the losers.
Since she noticed that I was flying out, the lady has added extra fencing to keep me in. But she gave up on trying to keep me in when she saw that I could climb trees.
The lady just shakes her head at me and says "silly chicken." I don't mind the insults. I'd rather be out, be free, be away from those hen-pecking creatures who are trying to keep me from the food.
Ruby still thinks she rules the roost, and does everything she can to steal from me, or exclude me. She's also so noisy-- such a loud beak-- but she isn't as great as she thinks she is. Since her wings were clipped, she doesn't even want to try to jump up to the table to get her food, so the lady feeds her on the ground.
We used to eat at the table...
...but now those hens doubt their ability to fly, and don't want to try it.
There isn't much to say about the others in the coop. One is scruffy and just does whatever its told, and the other one is quiet and somewhat dignified, but not much to say personality-wise. They aren't really interested in flying.
The Dull Hen
GoldieGoldie discovered that she could crow a bit, and I have tried, too. Maybe if people think we are roosters, they will be a bit scared off. Though I am free at night, I get shooed back in the pen in the mornings, much to my chagrin. I have fought back, and hard, but it does no good. I've kicked and scratched and pecked and made a steam-engine run at the boy with the broom, but he just laughs and exclaims and herds me right in the gate. No respect. When its the lady, I usually cooperate and go in after her when she gives out the rations, but slowly, just to let her know that I am entering of my own free will. I would think that because of my slowness, and the gate thus staying open longer, that the others would figure out that they could make a run for it. But, they are too interested in the food. I also can't figure out why they don't mob the lady when she has the food bins open, and take ALL of the food, all that they want. But no, we just get it by the handfuls.
I get out every night. A good thing, too, since the Skunk has started stalking the place. The lady thinks that because Goldie has been hiding her nest, that the Skunk was attracted to the eggs, since we've never had skunk problems before. But try as she might, she cannot find the nest. I'm not saying there is a nest, but I'm not saying there's not.
Even though doors and ramps get shut up for the night, I'd rather not be in the coop where some wily weasel or skunk might break in. After all, those humans don't think of everything, and I do. Let me take you on a walk with me so you can see how I find the safest places to sleep:
This bush looks like a nice place to hide, but its branches are too flimsy to roost on.
This little plum tree might work, but maybe its branches are a bit too flimsy, too. Also it is closer to the ground. When you look at a spot to roost, you have to think of the possibility of a skunk reaching up and getting you.
Here is a nice, dark bush-- the one I slept in as a child. I remember the lady trying to shake me out of this one, but she underestimated my grip!
Maybe I could fly up to that branch. It is difficult to say... though I have taught myself to fly again, I won't pretend that my steering is unaffected.
I like this lilac tree, it is very high off the ground, and the branches are sturdy.