I am in love. With a chicken.
Yes, it’s true. I have experienced chickens who follow me for treats and chickens who want the chicken butt handshake and even chickens who like to cuddle. But never before have I experienced a chicken that likes to hug.
At bedtime, I get to see all the girls at eye level as they snuggle down onto their roosts for sleep. 1.0 is used to me, of course, and Buffy will often beg for a cuddle (when she’s not broody). Pip loved a good full body massage when she was with us. 2.0 wasn’t handled much as chicks, and they are skittish around me still. I expect that to change, at least for some of them, when they begin to lay. Sex changes everything.
Then there’s 2.1. Marilyn is a total scardy chicken. She will allow a little second base with protest, but tucks her head under Mae’s breast to hide from me, ostrich-style. It’s cute. Until it’s not. Here’s Marilyn today:
And then, there’s Mae.
True to her namesake, Mae is bold and brassy and loves a good time. She is still timid of me when she’s on the ground, but get her up on a 5-foot roost and she is my little cuddle bug. When I scratch under her chin she presses down on my hand, and hooks her beak around the bangle I always wear on my right wrist to pull me closer to her. If I try to pull my hand away, she pulls me toward her. She has even tucked her beak into the neckline of my top to hold me close to her.
She might protest when I pick her up and place her on my wrist but then she lies down, snuggles into my chest and will not be put back. I can’t help but coo at her and mutter baby talk (and I loathe baby talk, as a rule). I have taken to calling her Meimei, which, as any good Firefly addict knows, is a Chinese term of endearment meaning “little sister”. (I love you Joss! Call me!)
All through this lovefest, Marilyn is yelling at me. Mae is hers, dammit. The fact that there are only two of them now, and that they are the youngest of the flock and at the very bottom of the pecking order, has given them a strong bond. I often have to push Marilyn away to get to Mae.
Right from the start, there was something different about these chicks. They were just so small and helpless when I got them, they must have been still wet from the egg. Chicken Debbie lost an unusually high number during shipping, and they’ve always seemed to be a good week or two behind what I have come to know as chick development.
And they’re still small. Maybe it’s an illusion because they’re the youngest. Maybe Easter Eggers are generally on the small side. Maybe they’ll catch up. But, MAN, these pullets are small for thirteen weeks. I’ve taken measures to assure they always have ample food and treats, but I’m just going to have to be patient.
I hope they do catch up because Alexia taught me what small hens mean…