Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chickens: Lazarus

Starting off with any animal project is going to be a chance for learning. It is one of my favorite things about raising animals or growing plants or learning a new food preservation technique. The correct amount and timing of food and water needs to be determined. Heat and cold must be accounted for. And all animals must somehow be contained so as not to be a nuisance, or destructive. We struggle with that last one from time to time.

One of our first sets of young chickens would rush the door to the brooder (a dog crate, reinforced with chicken and rat wire, perched on a wooden stand) when Young Master Farmer came to feed and water the little darlings. Alternately, perhaps he failed to close the door properly. One way or another, a young chicken had escaped, and we were worried for its safety. Mr. Farmer and I had to go out, so we left Young Master Farmer in charge of locating the loose chicken and returning it to the safety of the brooder while we were away. When we returned, we heard how the chicken had been killed by some animal, was removed from the back shed where it had tried to hide, and deposited in the trash. It was a somber dinner, and we were sad.

After dinner, Mr. Farmer went to look in on the chickens and replenish their water. When he approached the cage, he was surprised to see a chicken on the ground eating spilled feed! He counted the chickens in the cage, since he had secured the door himself the last time, and they were all accounted for ... the loose chicken had returned to life! He came into the house and told us all the story of Lazarus: The Chicken That Had Risen From the Dead.

Naturally it did not take long before Young Master Farmer confessed to his little white lie. Young chickens are very fast, and even when he had cornered it in the shed, he still could not catch it. He had grown tired of the chase, so he thought up the story of the dead chicken, figuring it would be the natural end for a ground bird so close to the edge of the woods. Lazarus blew the story when he came out and started hanging out under the brooder. Kids!

I don't remember which chicken was "Lazarus",
but this Bantam hen sure is pretty, right?

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