Well, to be fair, we have done a few times. but Blue’s rubbish at presents. if you give her a special biscuit or chew or bone she simply carries it lovingly off to her bed and sits with it, casting worried glances at you that she’s supposed to do something with it… but she’s not sure what. Three years ago we got her an ENORMOUS bone from the butchers to keep her happy over Christmas. We finally threw the stinky lump away in MARCH – still un-gnawed in any way.
So we didn’t even consider thinking about getting the chickens anything special – that would be plain old foolishness.
But as I wandered down to the coop far-too-early on Christmas morning (having already been up two hours before to get the turkey on, and gone back to bed again… the night before Christmas is not a sleep-filled one in this house….) I started musing. Because chickens are clever ole birds – they go to bed with the sun, but they get up with it too (which isn’t so bad in the winter but I can foresee may become a little painful in the summer…), which means no more lie-ins for me. Though it does mean I can CHOOSE to take my cold toes back to my nice still-warm bed again, of course and positively relish another hour in bed, instead of not even knowing I’m having a lie in. That in itself is a bit awesome.
Anyhoo, as is nearly always the case, on Christmas morning I flicked the door open, and out bustled the hens – no longer in strict pecking order, Oprah and Jabba tend to burst out together and fling themselves to the ground. Miss Eggsa takes a more refined approach to her morning, at least using the ladder to make it to the ground. Henghis Khan, chief hen and previous bully, will come out in her own good time (and if she feels I’m too early, she’ll jolly well stay put and just tell me off instead), pausing to survey her kingdom before descending the ladder and making her way for her breakfast.
While they’re going through their morning routine, I go through one of my own – a brand new life-with-chickens one. I stop and look at the sky, and smile a greeting at the robin who is singing fiercely from the top of the tree just above my head. Every morning he’s there, shouting to the sun as the sky lightens, and I always wish him a good morning out loud and he cocks his head at me but never stops his glorious shouting. he doesn’t say much, but we’re mates, Mr Robin and me.
I take a few deep breaths of the fresh morning air – no matter what the weather is doing, it is ALWAYS good to be outside in the clean still earliness, and I take a leisurely minute to stroll back indoors again.
I notice the latest shoots breaking through the surface of the flower beds, see the stupid mock orange flowering in December (instead of June), notice the flurry of blue tits on the feeders, getting their own breakfast in before the marauding crowd of noisily-chattering long tailed tits comes by later. I see the nasturtium that has refused to acknowledge the winter has thrown out yet another head. Occasionally I see the owl swoop across the garden on his way home to bed (or maybe he’s off out for breakfast, actually…).
The dog bustles past, busy with her own important busy-ness in the opposite direction – having checked her perimeters and emptied her bladder, third order of the day is to go say hello to the chickens and annoy them for a while. They blithely ignore her existence, of course, but it never ceases to amuse Blue.
It’s different in the summer when I’ll fling wide the back door the minute I’m up – until it became my job to get the chickens up in the morning I would hunker down inside until I positively had to go out once Winter hits. Blue would be let out for a wee and the door firmly closed behind her until she asked to come back in – I actually had no idea she herself had a morning routine to be getting along with. A chilly grey December morning did not entice me into the garden until the sun was high enough in the sky to see it at least.
And I realised that all of this – this lovely, fresh, new-dayness I get to enjoy every morning is thanks to the chickens. They gave me this quiet moment of connection and reflection as I start each day – and I realised that I never resent the early morning, no matter how much I groan at the alarm. The minute I step outside I’m breathing and looking and feeling peaceful and quietly planning out my day.
I feel a bit bad I didn’t get the chickens anything for Christmas, now…
The Chicken Run column is in conjunction with Omlet, fine purveyors of All Things Chicken. We have the Eglu Go UP coop which houses up to four birds, plus we have the 1m run extension to give them a little extra room.