A number of years ago we were asked to be volunteer caretakers of the McFarland Living History Ranch, in Galt, California. We thought the project had enormous potential for our community and surrounding communities, primarily the schoolchildren. Of course, we had to physically live on the property, so we sold our home and moved to the ranch.
The weekend we moved to the ranch the Early Day Engine and Tractor show was in full swing. We had responsibilities, our ranch guests always came first so there our U-Haul truck set in the yard with the meter running.
That same weekend the ranch director’s brother stopped by to ask if we wanted a chicken, I thought to myself, what’s a ranch without a chicken? Since all our belongings were sitting in a U-Haul truck, on our front lawn, and we were busy attending to the visitors of the Early Day Engine and Tractor show, I really didn’t think he meant, right now. But, he did mean right now, shortly after talking to us he showed up with a chicken, an Araucana chicken. What is unusual about the Araucana is that they lay anything from green eggs, blue eggs, to even pink eggs. She was a sweetheart. She had been named Chickie and that remained her name.
The ranch had a historical chicken coop that was far from ready. Everything on the ranch had to be restored to its original historical state. The chicken couldn’t be free ranged because we had coyotes.
Our chicken quickly became a pet chicken. At night she stayed in a pet carrier inside our house. During the day I would let her loose and she would follow me around the ranch as I attended to my duties (which were 85% of a 24-hour period). When she couldn’t be free she stayed in our fenced yard.
The McFarland Living History ranch was a great setting for school children to time warp back to pioneer times, to live just as the pioneers did. We had several bus loads of school children every week. The children did everything just as the pioneers did, including making butter and tending crops with historical tools.
Chickie loved it when the school children arrived. She would line up with the children, single file, and followed the children to each activity station. One of these stations was the storytelling station. The kids would arrive at the pre-setup stations, in line, create a circle, and then sit down.
Chickie would also stay in a single file line with the children, until they arrived at the circle. She would follow the kids around the circle, when the children set down Chickie would head straight to the middle of the circle. She loved being the center of attention.
People wonder why some people choose exotic pets as their companion pets. I can’t say I ever hankered for a chicken as a pet. We had chosen each other to be companions. I never knew I could love a pet chicken so much.
Each animal has its own unique personality as do all people; all exotic pet owners – just as I did, find love where you least expect to find love. I just never know what exotic pets will find me.
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Homemade Living: Keeping Chickens with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Care for a Happy, Healthy Flock Homemade Living: Keeping Chickens with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Care for a Happy, Healthy Flock
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