SAY HELLO TO EMMA: THE SUPER CHICKEN. Look at that sweet face and strong presence. What’s not to love?
Before I write this story an apology is due to all of the great bloggers, family, and friends who were loyal to this effort and who I left hanging for so long. To call it a writer’s block would be foolish so here is the truth: I had some health problems that took away the energy necessary for any creative work. The worst of this was the anxiety and depression that followed the physical pain. It is true that your best work only emerges when you are healthy and happy. The fear that I would never again create to that level was paralyzing!
Even as I write this I cannot assure you that there will be another story. No details, but please know that I am so grateful for all of your blogs and your attention to mine. All of your comments have been saved and I will answer each and every one in time. Being a part of this community has opened up a whole new world that I never dreamed of entering and because of you I can do more than just paint a pleasing picture.
Chapter twelve of I PROMISED YOU CONTINUED is too emotionally charged for now but I will make every effort to write it for you in the future. For the present Emma’s story is something easier to tackle but not without drama because her life in some ways parallels my own and has been at once challenging, tragic, and joyful. Yes, it’s about a chicken and I will write it in chapters because it’s a long story that I hope you will enjoy.
Who doesn’t like chickens? Well, I guess some uptight folks! I always thought that they were attractive, resourceful, and fun to watch. So when my kids flew the nest I determined to raise a backyard flock of four. My home sits in the middle of twelve acres surrounded by natural forest and teaming with wildlife so I knew that protecting them from becoming chicken dinner was job one. A secure movable coop and run seemed ideal because they would have tons of pecking room and it could be moved to a new spot every few days. Free range most of the day would have suited me even better but I couldn’t just languish outside keeping an eye on them.
First: where to find someone to build their home. Online coops were mostly too small and large ones were outrageously expensive. Craig’s List! I found a farmer’s son who had started a small business building mobile chicken houses. He did not disclose that mine would be his inaugural effort! The price was right and he delivered it about one week later. Whoop’s, no wheels as agreed just a pull rope tied on the front. Now, we are talking about a six-foot guy who could pass for Conan the Barbarian. He easily demonstrated how to pull about two hundred pounds of wood across the lawn and stated that he couldn’t figure out how to attach the wheels!
Is this the lamest chicken coop you have ever seen? Depressing! I even had to buy a roosting bar. See the rope that I was supposed to pull? It would have to do for now.
Oh well, I was still excited and sat to work figuring out how to move it without a resulting hernia. Finally I noticed that the roosting bar could be placed right through the middle of the cage and extended a good two feet on either side. Flash! I could do this by lifting one side of the bar and then the other, crisscrossing the grass until it arrive in a fresh place. Success! Now I was ready to find my chickens.
Art class in my studio was the next day providing a captive audience for my search. One of them was friends with a bird enthusiast who had hundreds of free range chickens and other foul on a sort of bird preserve. Eccentric he was – in a good way -and agreed to sell me four happy girls. No roosters! Thanks. Although he assured me that the hens would not be happy without one. I didn’t buy it! Besides roosters drive you and your neighbors nuts. I had my pick of many breeds but choose four of the same reasoning that they would live together with a minimum of stress.
Three were red with some white feathers and one was red with a few black feathers on her tail.This one I named Emma and I knew that she was special from the start. She was a big beautiful girl who right away took her place as head chicken. They were all about five months old and started laying eggs right away. I could tell them apart so names were quickly established. Well, after a few days of observation. All were sweet docile animals following Emma around the yard. However the pecking order did emerge: Emma, Joanna, Harriet, and Billy Jo respectively according to size and (ahem) intelligence.
Emma was not merely the head chicken; she was the mother chicken herding all the rest with gentle firmness. They were never far away from her and copied her erect still posture whenever a threat was suspected. Chickens seem to have the idea that if they stand perfectly still big birds overhead cannot see them. They could be right! I know some human mothers who could take lessons from Emma. The roosting order was thus: Emma and Joanne slept together on one side of the nesting boxes while Harriet and Billy Jo took the opposite side. All was at peace – at least for now. In my ignorance of safe houses all did not stay well!
Look for Emma’s Dilemma’s 2 soon. Peace and love to all!