1.06.2016

When Your Favorite Hen is a He... and a Mini Briar Top

Four months ago, we became the proud owners of three baby chicks and embarked on the adventure of raising backyard chickens.


This has really been Indigo's project from the start.  She has been the one to feed them and give them water each day.  She lets them out of their coop in the morning and locks them in at night.  She brings them treats.  And she even does the dirty work of cleaning out the coop.  She does it with joy, without needing to be nagged or even reminded.



In caring for the chicks, she grew to love them deeply.  And her favorite is an Easter Egger named Heather.  Whenever Heather saw Indigo, she would call out in excitement.  Indigo would tell me, "Mom, Heather has been making some strange noises in the morning."  But whenever I went out to check it out, she was quiet.


Heather started to grow bigger than the other chicks... but she was a different breed.  And then her tail feathers grew long and were shiny.  But maybe Easter Eggers are just fluffy?  (I don't know anything about chickens - I didn't grow up on a farm.)  So we had our suspicions that Heather might be a rooster... but we were kind of in denial.


Until.  Last weekend, I was sleeping in one morning after being up late the night before.   In our main living area (where I usually am in the morning), we had our windows replaced because the original windows were old and so drafty.  Not only are the new windows airtight, but they are also incredibly sound proof.  They were expensive, however, so we did not replace the ones in our bedroom.  Indigo was headed out to let the chickens out and I was laying in bed when I heard it as clear as day :  Cock-a-doodle-dooooooo.  Then I heard it again.  And again.   I called Dan over and he heard it, too.  We looked at each other.  We definitely had a rooster.


Big tears were shed that day by all of the kids, except for Tia, who tends to keep a stiff upper lip.  We knew we couldn't keep Heather (whose name has since been changed to Henry).  For one, roosters are not allowed in our city limits due to the loud crowing.  Apparently, people can and do eat fertilized eggs (who knew?).  But roosters really need to have at least 10 hens in their flock otherwise they harass and pick on the hens incessantly.  We only have two.


Thankfully, here in Texas there are quite a lot of farmers and ranchers.  Lots of people do it as a hobby.  Dan works with a man who raises pigs and whose kids are active in their local 4-H.  And he knows of someone who is looking for rooster for a flock of 20 hens.  I think our Henry boy will be in heaven there.

We took these photos of Indigo and Henry because he will be leaving soon and she said she wants to always remember him.


She's saving a few of his feathers, too.


For Christmas, the only thing that Indigo wanted was a stuffed chicken and a blanket for it.


I was looking for some chicken fabric for the blanket when I found this knit interlock by Birch fabrics : Homestead Roost.  I decided to order enough to make Indigo another Mini Briar Top,  keeping it all a secret from her until Christmas.  Although I did spill to Jude who declared, "She's gonna freak out because she'll love it so much!"


I found a super soft mustard knit that I had in my stash to use as a backing for the blanket.

I was really hoping she wouldn't find it to be too babyish.  And I told her I wouldn't take it personally if she wanted to wear it as pajamas.  But she loved it!  One really cool and interesting thing about Indigo is that she truly loves and values handmade.




I am so thankful for our chicken girl and her amazingly big heart!


20 comments:

  1. Oh wow, I got choked up reading this! I love that you all are thinking about Henry's needs. I hope his new placement is a big success! a friend and I call these animals --the ones with which we are especially bonded and which communicate with us--our "soul animals." Usually we are talking about our soul dogs, but I think it's pretty clear Indigo has a soul chicken!

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    1. Oh man, don't even get me started about our dog! We all love him so much! I totally get it. Some of these animals totally steal our hearts! <3

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  2. I'm sad for you guys! Seems to be that in the bird world, the most attractive ones tend to be the males!! I'm glad that he has found a great home to go to. Indigo has a gorgeous top and lovely photos to remember her special Heather by :)

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  3. Oh my goodness, you're breaking my heart!!! Poor sweet innocent child! Poor sweet innocent rooster! So glad you found a good home for "him." Oh Heather/Henry. :(

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  4. Indigo is such a cute kid! When I was her age, had the same close relationship with one of our chickens as well ;-) She would always come when I called her and sit on my lap as soon as I sat down. Lots of tears when she died! My little sister then made a drawing of the chicken to remember her. I still have it, but your photos are way more beautiful!

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    1. What an awesome story, Eva! I love that you still have the drawing! How cool is that!?

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  5. Oh no! I am so sorry to read that Heather is Henry :( but it sounds like he will be going to a great home. I'm sure he won't get the same TLC that Indigo has shown him though - what a sweetheart she is! The top is perfect for your chicken living girl. I hope to one day have some chooks... At the moment though I think I'd be the one who would end up doing the work - maybe when the boys are a bit bigger :)

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  6. Poor kids! It's hard to get so attached to an animal and then have to let them go. I would have loved having chickens to take care of when I was indigo's age. My babysitter had a coop full of them and I loved going in there and playing with all of the crazy chickens. They're such funny ladies!

    The shirt and stuffed chicken are awesome

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  7. Oh, Heather/Henry... roosters are so beautiful aren't they? I'm glad you found him a home. They really do crow all day. We tried to keep one once!
    Maybe Indigo can add another pair of girls to her flock. I'm sure you could use the eggs!

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  8. So I was scrolling through your post and I saw a real chicken, I was sure it was a real chicken, then it looked like a toy chicken and then a real chicken, I just couldn't work out what I was seeing. It was freaking me out. Then I read the words and all was revealed. Phew! Cock-a-doodle-dooooooo!!!

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    1. So sorry for the confusion, Olu. :D

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  9. Isn't that precious. Lucky Henry tho. He will be so proud with his Harem ; )

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  10. What a sweet story. I love the top and blanket. Great photos.

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  11. Aw that Indigo is such a sweetheart, this was tough to read because I feel for her so deeply, but "farm life" does tend to lead to a lot of lessons, doesn't it? I could tell you a story about our cat when I was around her same age but anyway...sometimes as parents we want to protect our kids from all bad things, but sometimes it's really powerful to learn these lessons about life/loss. Some adults I know that have never had to deal with death really can't cope with loss as grown ups...not that Heather/Henry is dead, but Indigo is learning to grapple with those sort of emotions in a healthy way with your support...I dunno, this is getting too deep for a Saturday morning...

    I love the chicken shirt and it's so cute with her leggings! ;)

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  12. Oh Rachel, she really is beautiful! I love the top and how you managed to not make it look baby-ish. I have a similar story from childhood when my sister and I got rabbits. Her's turned out to be a boy and had to go. Such a hard thing to do! So glad Indigo is brave and tender!

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  13. Oh man, that is so sad to have to say goodbye to something you love so much...but what a lovely way to remember Henry! I love how sweet Jude was when he said "She's gonna freak out because she'll love it so much!" don't you just love how sibling love shows sometimes! i've had my eye on this fabric for a while now, wanting to make something for my kiddos b/c I call them chickens all the time ;) I, too, am so thankful for children who love and appreciate handmades :)

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  14. Oh Heather/Henry! What a surprise. I always watched our girls closely as they grew bigger, hoping that they'll all stay hens as planned! It sounds like you've found him a good home. And the mini briar is lovely. What great fabric! I've seen that print a few times now and I've been trying to figure out a pattern to use it with.

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  15. This was such a tender story . . . that Indigo and her rooster-sized heart! I love that she asked for a stuffed chicken/blanket for Christmas too - and you found the perfect fabric for it! How wonderful that she has such a respect /love for things handmade . . . how I wish! I'm sure you appreciate it fully so I won't remind how lucky you are:)

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    1. Aw yes, I really do appreciate it. It amazes me that she values handmade so much and she always has. When she was four, she said the only thing she wanted was a mama made blanket! And trust me, not all of my kids are like this.... at all. I am sure that it helps that we homeschool, in that, I'm not even sure that she is too aware of current fashion. Maybe that buys me some extra time. :D

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  16. What a beautiful story, I hope Henry is very happy with his new harem

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