Penny, Hazel & Gloria, 2 buff orpingtons and a barred rock, all rescued from a 4 x 4 kennel. Some person crammed 15 chickens into a 4 x 4 kennel, with unsanitary conditions, then left them to rot. Somehow, word got passed around and our friend heard of it and decided to go help. She brought some dog carriers and loaded up the 13 hens and 2 roosters. (3 of which were Hazel, Penny and Gloria!)
Now you see, my friend has a ranch... with 5 horses, 4 dogs and 10 chickens. When she arrived home with these birds, she quarentined them in a warm barn with food and water. She cleaned some of their wounds but noticed many had deseases. A few died, but the rest prospered. A few weeks passed and soon it was time to let them out to explore their new home. Our friend noticed a peculiar buff orpington with one blue eye and one green eye (Penny). She could walk quietly up next to her, the blue eye facing her, and Penny would not notice. Soon she realized that the orpington was blind in her blue eye. She could see fine out of the other eye, but it would be a hard life for Penny around her farm. She also saw another buff orpington who's eyes were shut completely. This little hen was the smallest of all and the most vulnerable. My dear, baby Hazel... my favorite lil girl. She was blind, so whatever she could hear gave her the sign to walk. A tap of the fooddish sent her running, a soft call made her walk towards the voice. A simple opening of the door would bring her to us. That soft, gentle purr will always stay in my heart. She sometimes used to open her tiny, black, left eye and peek at the world for a moment, then close it once again. My, how she loved her yogurt. She'd spill it all down her face, only to get a sip of it. The three of them were pampered, from sled rides in the winter, to pools in the summer.... warm laps to sleep on, and gentle massages on a cold, fall day. She also noticed a Barred rock hen, who was very shy and never explored the yard with the other chickens. She had a angry, stern expression on her face and kept to herself. Hazel was best friends with Penny. Our friend wanted to find these 2 blind misfits a home, where they would enjoy the rest of their life in peace.
We got a call one day, explaining the situation. At the time, we had only 1 dog, a rat terrier. We were terrified that Luna (rat terrier) would attack the chickens. But being animal lovers, we said we would come take a look. We brought a cat carrier, and drove to our friends house. Man, those 2 birds stole our hearts the second we saw them. We told our friend we would pick them up ASAP, and hurried home to get some supplies. Miraculously, we found a free coop and lugged it home (3 x 4 coop), went and bought some shavings, food, 2 bowls, some grit, oystershell and scratch. We made a makeshift run out of a 3 foot tall golden fence and covered it with a net. We put shavings in the coop and filled their water and food, and the next day we went to get our 2 girls. Luna, our dog, was very weary of our birds at first. We kept her on a leash at all times and told her that they were OUR girls and to be nice. Pretty soon she stopped trying to bark and run at them and began to like "the little presents" they left behind....
I'm gonna skip forward a few months, after the blind BO (Hazel) and the semi-blind BO (Penny) had settled in, we were taking a vacation trip to florida! We decided to bring the 2 birds back to our friends house while we went away for a week. A week later, we got to our friends house, and where did we find our chickens? Sitting in the rain, of course! Looked like wet rats from a distance. We loaded them up and hurried home to get them dry. Next day, we got a call from our friend again. She told us that while our birds were there, a barred rock protected them from being picked on and mounted by the rooster! She told us that usually this hen sat by herself and did nothing at all, but when our 2 girls came back, she sprung to life. We were touched that our girls were kept safe by the most unlikely of animals, so we drove over with a carrier to look. Boy, did that bird put up a fight to be put in a carrier! The little barred rock tried to run, not realizing we were there to bring her to a new, happier home. She became Gloria, and thats when our little flock began.
Happy, fun months passed and it was almost a year we had them when suddenly, Hazel, the blind BO, grew sick. A large tumor grew under her beak, in her throat, blocking her airway. How we love and miss that little girl... we did all we could to save her, feeding her manually and massaging the tumor, trying to break it up. But it was no use, and one morning, I went out to the coop... and found her lying between Penny and Gloria, sleeping in a forever sleep. Our 2 birds acted very sad for the next few weeks, and I began to think maybe we should adopt another hen to brighten them up. We found a lady on craigslist who had one buff orpington that was always picked on by the hens. We went over to look, carrier in hand, and soon brought her home. She became Nellie, a 1 year old buff orpington. She is a lively little girl, always moving and eating, and at first it was a harsh pecking order, but now they are all becoming close friends. She has brought life to our small flock of three, and now I can say that we do not forget about our dear Hazel, and we greatly miss her... the soft purr from her throat makes me cry still. But its the circle of life, one hen dies in peace, another hen lives in peace. A few months later, we spotted a ad on craigslist for pullets for FREE! We quickly shot a email to the women, only to find out she meant that her roosters were free, the pullets were 30 dollars each. We couldn't afford that much, so we explained that we were rescue chicken owners and only had 3 hens and were looking for more. She sent us another email and explained how she had one small black Australorp, she believes is a bantam. A week later, we went to pick her up and were surprised to see the women owned 200+ chickens! The minute I saw her, I thought, "How cute! So small!" She really is, only 2 pounds! She is extremely friendly and loves to be held. We are thinking of naming her Lucy, but we aren't sure yet. She fits in nicely with our group, and surprisingly Nellie adores her! I will update this as soon as we confirm Lucy is the right name for her.... as we only just got her today! (February 6th, 2012!)
And that is how we began raising.... BackYardChickens!
Lucy (may be changing name)
Hazel - R.I.P.