King Richard and Little Dickie: a tale of two chickens

It’s that time of year where we pack up the car and drive all day to go on vacation. Part of this involves going to visit my mom, who lives a short drive up a mountain, in a house, in the woods, with trees and a big vegetable garden and flowers and chickens.

My mom likes chickens. We had chickens growing up and she would go out and happily feed them, encourage them to run around, and show them how to scratch for bugs. Yes, I did once find my mom showing a chicken that there was a bug in the grass and her suggesting that the chicken should eat it.  Later we moved away from that house, into town and away from chickens. Now that my mom has retired and has outdoor space, she also has chickens again.

There exist many different kinds and breeds of chickens to chose from when you want to get chickens. They are chosen according to size, breed purpose (layer or meat), productivity, and broodiness, among other factors. Some produce double-yolk eggs, some lay daily for 2 – 5 years, and some lay green-shelled eggs (‘I do not like them Sam I Am! I do not like green eggs and ham!’). There is also a pecking order that gets established within any coop, much like personalities on a playground. Roosters tend to be fond of being “King of the Castle.”

My mom has some Bantams (these are the smaller birds), some English breeds (two of which she refers to as “Henny Penny 1 and 2”), and some Ameraucanas, which lay the green eggs.

This is the Ameraucana breed that lays those green eggs. Her name is Eagle.

Each day can produce a different area of color.

A brood of chickens can only have one rooster. When chicks are born you can’t always be sure if they are hens or roosters. You can distinguish this as they get older by their features: roosters will have a more definite comb, longer tails and act more, well, cocky.  Roosters need to assert dominance and superiority in the coop. They will, literally, peck another rooster to death if there is a dispute. And it’s only a matter of time before a typical dispute happens, especially with a bunch of hens around. My mom ended up with two roosters from her dozen chicks.

The larger rooster liked to crow and strut and act kingly. They called him “King Richard.”

As mentioned: King Richard

The King investigates.

The smaller one, a Bantam, was my mom’s favorite. This rooster was submissive and gentle and careful of his place in the pack. But he turned on my mom’s partner one day with an unprovoked peck and it was commented that this rooster was “a little dickhead.” For the sake of my kids, the younger one was called, “Little Dickie.”

A bird in the hand.

He is a strange and snuggly bird.

Little Dickie on his perch.

Because of his size, Little Dickie was picked on (pecked on?) a lot by King Richard. Something had to give before the situation got unfortunate. Luckily, a neighbour had a brood of Bantam hens in need of a leader, so Little Dickie went to live on their farm.

Now each rooster has their own brood and harem; things are right once again in ChickenLand.

We live in an area that allows urban fowl. Our neighbours are considering getting a small cluck of birds. Given my daughter’s affinity for collecting eggs, and feeding and learning about chickens, she would be a natural chicken-sitter if the need arose. For us, though, we’re staying away from this prospect for now. We can always go and visit my mom to get our fill of chickens, and eggs.

Too chicken to run

Last weekend I ran my long run, my second week doing 29 km. I was pretty nervous about it the day before. I knew I would have to be up early to avoid most of the heat, I knew the route I’d planned had two – 3 km hills in it, and I knew I would be running solo.  I felt a little like this:

A little stunned.

My husband kindly agreed to “crew” for me (if I am running solo I can use the terms to sound like I have the lingo down and I’m running a really long ways) and would meet me near each 10 km interval with more Gatorade refill. He was a few minutes late for the first interval meet, but then also kindly agreed to run the next 10km with me. Once I got going I felt better.

Run, Chicken, run!

I approached this run as doing three – 10km runs. I tried to treat each 10km as a distinct distance and this was really helpful psychologically. I didn’t feel as though I was scrambled and running in all directions.

Having my husband run with me was really helpful and motivated me to keep going up the hills even after I’d already run a half marathon distance. (Who wants to slow down when your running buddy is only doing 10km?) I could maintain a sense of form

Good posture: relaxed shoulders, hips aligned.

and poise.

Looking ahead at the route.

I made sure I kept up on my nutrition and hydration. It’s easy to get behind on this when you are focussed on running, and running at a pace (or uphill) where eating is uncomfortable or challenging.

Must keep eating.

Eat when you feel good…

and eat when you feel bad.

The finish of my route was straight uphill and although my pace was slower than our running group’s usual pace, my route was also a lot more hilly than I was used to. Honestly, I run a lot of hills in general, but this had a lot of steep and long hills in it. The challenge of 2.5 more kms uphill to finish off my route was taxing.

I was not feeling like a busy bee.

I dug down and felt motivated to at least get my distance of 29 km finished. My husband drove the rest of the road home after we’d said goodbye and it was up to me to just finish. A few minutes later he came back to tell me that there was a bear on the road just before my finish line and he could give me a ride.

I finished off my distance and was happy to get in the car for the last few hundred meters, and past the bear. Then, I could finally just look around and enjoy the view.

Gopher-ing around.

A week later: Today’s long run was back with my running buddies, a 32 km (almost 20 miles). It was the perfect day for it: overcast, slight breeze, and I felt good. Instead of feeling anxious and nervous I decided to tackle it with my strengths: I am fit, I can do the distance and I can convince myself of most things. I will not overcome hurdles by resigning myself to defeat, I need to get up and over them. The half-way point came and went so quickly. The last 5 km was the hardest, but I kept up with my nutrition and hydration and this kept me going. And honestly, I *felt* good. This is the most satisfying feeling to boost anyone’s confidence – you can run a long ways and still feel good. Maybe the relaxed schedule over my vacation did have some benefits to my attitude and fitness!

I saw a photo today of one of the runners in Project Talaria crossing the finish line. (I have written about them before). He had run 100 miles in just under 27 hours! I was so inspired by this that I knew 32 km was within me.

Amazing! This is the finish line around 6am with Matt finishing (on the left) and his pacer.

*No fowl were harmed in the creation of this post. All were well-fed and willing participants and live on a free-range farm, where they are referred to by name. There is a danger of bears where they live, but they also have an electric fence for protection as needed.