My Chicken Schnitzel
I would like to think that as a mum I have no favourites. Of course my one and only son is definitely my favorite child, and my one and only dog, well yes he is also my favorite dog, but with my other family of five chickens, whom I raised from day old chicks surely I couldn’t possibly single one out to be a favorite? That just wouldn’t be right. However if you look at my photo album, it seems that I do.
My favorite time of the week is around five o’clock on a Saturday and Sunday evening when all the chores are done and I sit on the edge of our deck, chardonnay in hand and watch my chickens clucking around in the back yard. Watching chickens as it turns out is akin to watching the ocean or a roaring fire. It’s meditative, relaxing, and sometimes hilarious. So funny to watch those fluffy bottoms bouncing whilst running to find shelter from an overhead cockatoo, to see them fight over a grasshopper and steal it off each other, or risk life and limb to try to take a peck at the dog’s bone whilst he’s not looking.
Whilst my husband is quite fond of the chooks too and has learnt how to make some amazing omelets, he is not very tolerant of the “land mines” they leave all over the place. He is constantly hosing the back carport, back door step and sweeping off the deck. As the egg production is now starting to slow down in their later years, he has become increasingly frustrated that we have to deal with their mess and buy their feed for very little oval reward! But the other rewards are that they provide us with a great deal of entertainment.
Those of you who keep free range chickens will know that after many hours of observation, chickens all have very distinct personalities. Of our five, Omelet is the Boss. She has also been the one to stray from the herd and at times fly the coop into a neighbors yard. On one occasion she was unable to be found when it came time to lock the chickens away safely for the night and so she remained locked out. I cant imagine that would have been fun for her when she came home to find that the gate was shut and she was on the outside of it. I silently hoped all night that she wouldn’t be taken be a predator. Seems by the “land mine” evidence left behind that she roosted on the deck with Scruffy (the dog) to protect her. I know somehow she has learnt her lesson though as she hasn’t wandered far away in the late afternoon for some time now.
Hazel, is the guts, running the fastest when I am approaching with the food and diving head first into whatever it is that I deliver. Consequently she is also the fattest, healthiest chook we have. Apart from that she is placid and obedient which makes her an easy chook to live with. Kentucky, is a follower. She just does as she’s told, gets bossed around by Omelet and sometimes even mounted (a dominant act?). She is hard to pick up but always comes when called.
Georgia, our only white chicken was the one that came down from our neighbors house. Because she was a late comer she has never really fit in. The other chooks pick on her so she hangs far enough away that she doesnt suffer their pecks too often. She molts profusely and because her feathers are white they are like a blanket of snow over everything in the back yard. She doesn’t like to be caught and picked up more than likely a cause of being raised by the two young and not so gentle kids up the back.
The fifth chicken is Schnitzel and she has made herself my pet. I imagine she is as close to a puppy dog as you can get. Her main appeal is her amazing curiosity which sees her get in all sorts of places you wouldn’t imagine a chicken wanting to be.
The front door of our house opens right into the space where I work each day and is adjacent to my office window. There is no screen on the door to protect us from insects, weird couriers, dogs frightened by lightening or wandering chooks. During my work day Schnitzel will often wander in and have a look around the house muttering this funny little geiger counter noise that almost seems like she’s using a sonar or radar trying to find a niche the right size to sit in. I must admit that after two years of having to interrupt my train of thought to constantly chase her out, I now just let her have her wander.
I have discovered that she will walk around for about fifteen to twenty minutes, her little chicken feet scrabbling on the timber floor trying to find some purchase. She wanders the house trying any small space on for size, the bookshelf, under my desk, the shelf under the TV, any nook or cranny. After trying this in a few different places; among the rolls of fabric, in the cupboard with the cotton reels, next to the overlocker, on top of my filing tray, she gets fed up and leaves. She never deposits a “land mine” in the house, unlike the other chooks and she does clean up all the dropped goodies or stray insects under the kitchen table and on the kitchen floor.
Sometimes though these visits can be a little annoying. Just recently I had an a saleswoman from Brisbane come to show me the latest uniform designs in her company’s catalogue. Whilst she was turning the pages to show me the one that corresponded to the garments lying on my desk Schnitzel sauntered her way in to my office and flew up landing right onto the book and samples. Poor lady got quite a fright! We did have a laugh about it together but I bet she wont be coming back to see me any time soon.
Just lately Schnitzel has taken to hopping into the boot of the car when I leave it open to bring in the groceries and even the other day the front passenger seat of the car while I was opening the gate. I swear that if I sat in the driver’s seat and opened the door she would hop onto my lap and let me take her for a ride.
I can honestly say that I love all of my chooks and I know that as they approach their third year (they only live for four) I will start to see some of them “drop off their perch” which will make me very sad. I will miss them running to me when they see me in the yard, I will miss their help when I weed the garden, I will miss their clucking, their cuddles, their antics and their eggs, but I will NOT MISS ONE BIT the land mines they leave everywhere!