She is a sweetheart of a chicken, a petite Araucana with a heart of gold and a fierce knack for survival. She was named for her somewhat “jacked” or malformed beak. Had we known her better before bestowing the tongue-in-cheek name, we most likely would have given her something more regal, but as that wasn’t the case, Jackie she remains, though with much affection. It’s because of this disability, however, that she’s had to overcome the innate skittishness born into nearly every chicken. This girl has demonstrated remarkable pluck in not just sustaining herself, but in thriving, laying beautiful moss green eggs. As you might imagine, the simple act of eating takes on a new challenge with a malformed beak, requiring much more time and effort to get enough food into her mouth. Because competition at the feeder can be intense during high-traffic times, like when the feeder is filled with fresh, crumbly grains, Jackie has to get creative to get her fair share. So she hops up inside the feeder. Or she hops right into the tub of feed as it’s being portioned out into the hanging feeder. This fearlessness has given us a lot of interaction with her, making her the friendliest chicken of the flock.
No doubt her methods are considered uncouth by the other Ladies, who maintain a strict decorum at all times. But Jackie’s thrown Proper Ladylike Behavior to the wind, doing what she must to eat. She’s a classic Underdog; of course she’s one of my favorites.
This past week found another opportunity to put all of her pluck to good use.
For weeks now we’ve been fighting to keep this vagrant from marching right through the chicken door of the coop and helping himself to an all-you-can-eat corn-based buffet. Like cows and other ruminants, the canine stomach is (I’d guess) not able to handle all that corn. Just for a moment, imagine the daily, this-is-almost-becoming-a-habit messes of the disgusting variety that gave my washing machine a steady stream of crap for over 5 days straight. Literally. We grasped at a solution, meditating on the steady ’round and ’round and ’round slosh of pug bedding in the wash. How do we keep a chicken-size dog out of the coop without keeping the chickens in? We tried selling the pug. No luck.
Just as we were ready to load the dog into the car and drop him off in the middle of a field miles away, we worked out a possible solution. A fence around the feeder would definitely keep him out, half-blind as he is, but should allow the chickens to hop over it and eat in peace. So far, so good on the dog front, but of the chickens, only Jackie has had the wherewithal (or balls) to make the leap and get at the food. Doris, on the other hand, has made a great show of circling the fence and complaining loudly to me. What a whiner. I’m hoping that the Ladies either figure it out quickly or at least hang in there a bit longer while Svejk (the pug) unlearns his behavior, allowing me to remove the fence altogether.
But Jackie – you make me proud, girl! The underdog triumphs!