The chickens consist of Chanticleer and his wives (I know, I know . . . that name is a profound failure of originality). They are a strangely homogenous harem, and while each hen has a name of her own we do often go about referring to them as simply "the chickens." Daphne and Ada are about ten years old now, and are plump, serene australorps and FarmWife's favorites. Blueberry, Raspberry, and Feather are the Americaunas—nervous, suspicious, and poor layers.* What eggs they do lay, however, are terribly pretty. The other chickens—Viola and Victoria—are indistinguishable from one another. They are Rhode Island Reds, and I simply can't imagine how they managed to get all the way over here from there.
The husband chicken is a chivalrous gentleman with some muleness about him: when snacks are thrown to the flock, he clucks to his wives and draws them 'round, then stands with noble countenance and majestic bearing while they dine. He has not a bite for himself—in fact, if he does deign to lift a morsel in his beak it is only to redistribute the wealth in the direction of a less aggressive hen.
FarmWife reports that she is going to have a few new layers in the spring, including three for the children to pamper. This will mean more poultry underfoot, as they tend to come into my paddock to sort the manure. A baffling practice! They enjoy sorting my manure slightly less than they enjoy sorting the goats', which I find offensive. If you are the sort of creature who likes sticking your snout in poo, why not choose the best? (FarmWife says it is because the goats leave undigested seeds behind. Being voluptuous, I don't get nearly as many seeds as they!)
A random factoid: My human aunt Erin clicker-trained my chickens and now they jump on command in exchange for peanuts. My human aunt Erin also spent Christmas playing with baby tigers—not like mine**, who stay little, but the kind that grow big enough to eat mules. I am not sure what to think about that.
Tomorrow, we will talk about Clover. She is the next smallest family member.
* I was once under the impression that the FarmChildren removed eggs daily in order to spare the chickens the pain of burying their malformed, aborted young. It turns out that the humans remove them in order to dine upon their contents, which strikes me as a million times more revolting.
** My little tigers are next in line after Clover for a biographical blog post. Patience!