Wednesday, January 7, 2015
Ginger Is A Spice
Ginger, the little red sex-link hen, the escape artist who free ranges daily, certainly adds spice to my life. I barely make it out of the pen of a morning before Ginger is over the fence and on her way to her nesting box in the feed barn. While I put away the bucket and scoop, she settles herself just so, clucking quietly to herself while she fluffs her feathers and gets ready to do her job. She warns me away with low growls when I invade her territory to get the goats' alfalfa and I carefully avoid her corner. During the day, she hangs out with the big kids, the turkeys who forage under the oak for birdseed and scrape under leaves for bugs, etc. The turkeys seem to tolerate this small, gutsy redhead in their midst. On days when the flock gets a slurp of milk, Ginger comes running to partake. A running chicken with wings akimbo looks like a cartoon character and makes me laugh every time. I feel bad when it's a "save the milk" day and the hens go without. Ginger wanders away and the others line up inside the fence, all dejected and deprived. At eventide, after putting the big girls to bed, I haul the cart up to the feed barn and love to see Ginger waiting by the drive. There is something I find endearing about seeing this little friend at dusk. She seems happy to see me too and accompanies me, chatting about the day's events, while I park the cart. She leads the way to the gate, waiting to be let in. As with the other critters, routine is everything. Ginger goes into the pen and I go get nighttime treats. The Silkies get theirs first and that's their signal to go into the Taj; I close them in for the night. Ginger and the flock gather by the gate, clustering around my feet, always making me feel like Gulliver among the Lilliputians. I'm careful not to tread on skinny toes and we somehow make it all together into the hen house where I throw down scratch and gather eggs. Some of the hens might have already roosted, but rarely can they resist getting up for a bedtime snack. My last task before dark is to check Ginger's box. She lays an egg almost daily, good girl that she is. Ginger, like all spice, adds to the flavor of my days.