Ailsa has been travelling through southern Utah recently and captured some amazing images of the red landscape. Check out her gorgeous photos posted on “Where’s my backpack?” I have never been to Utah, but it sounds amazing. She has challenged her readers to respond with their interpretations of “Red”. I considered something along the lines of the red ochre coloured landscapes of Western NSW (Australia), but have instead gone with an entirely different option.
One of the things that I notice wherever I have travelled is that people keep chickens. Particularly in country areas, there are invariably a few chickens scratching around somewhere! Some are black, some are white and many are, well…. red! So my focus for the travel theme week focuses on these humble, yet immensely environmentally friendly animals which are seen in so many places worldwide.
I wish to profile two hens in particular. They are special because they live in a large cage in my yard. Why the cage? Well, it is not so much to keep them in as to keep their enemies out! Foxes and large dogs are particularly a problem. Sparrows used to be a pest too, and now they too are kept at bay! However, I have not found a way to keep the odd mouse (and hence the occasional snake 😦 ) out! But the chickens didn’t seem to mind sharing their space with either of these (which I did find surprising!).
Rouge (Red) and Blanc (White) were to be their names, but they didn’t really stick and now they are generally just lumped together as “the chooks” (Australian vernacular for “chickens”).
They happily devour all the vegetable scraps from the kitchen and also delight in specially grown ‘treats’ from the vegetable garden in summer. On lawn mowing days, they fuss about happily, knowing that they will get a big pile of clippings to explore and pick through. Anyone going near the cage at any time is treated with much interest and enthusiasm, just in case there is something nice on offer!
It may surprise many, but chickens do have a rigorous pecking order and can be quite nasty to newcomers (particularly younger chooks) while establishing their lines of authority. However, Rouge and Blanc arrived at the same time and consequently have never had a problem getting along together. I did consider getting only one chook at the time (we did not really need that many eggs!), but it would have been a pretty lonely life, so we got two after all.
They are both real characters and react differently to someone coming into the cage to collect their eggs. One just squats down, which (along with the look that comes with it), means “I can’t be bothered moving, so please mind you don’t step on me”! The other moves aside, but not far enough that she will miss out on whatever delicacy might be on offer.
They have 3 laying boxes and move from one to the other irregularly and quite unpredictably, which I find intriguing. They really are quite an entertaining pair!
These two animals are now two years old. They started laying eggs 4 weeks after we got them and have laid an egg each almost every day since. That amounts to over 720 eggs each! If you have ever picked up a chicken, you will know that there is not much to their little bodies – they are mostly feathers! So this quantity of eggs from such a small animal is quite astounding! And they are still laying – every day!
So here’s a toast to all the red chooks around the world! What awesome creatures they are!