While I'm still at the build site in Mazunte, where we just finished the first phase of our Earthship-inspired round building with a reciprocal roof, I noticed how I've been focusing so much on the building that I completely ignored this society of domestic birds that have been feeling and acting quite at home on our property.
So in order to make up for it, and finally publish a homesteading post, here is my intro to our neighbor's chickens. I remember, at one point chicken posts were super popular on this blockchain.
The Friendly Chooks from Next Door
So no, none of these birds are ours. They live at our neighbor's place, where they spend the night perched in a tree, and I assume they may even get some food there. Otherwise, however, they spend most of their time foraging around in the near vicinity.
Though their range is immense, they are well aware that as much food as they can gather on the surrounding hillsides and neighbor properties, none of it is ever as tasty as under our kitchen tree. That's probably also the reason why us humans like to hang out there. In practice, this means we have these chickens all around us, doing their chicken things. How could I not at least introduce these feathered companions?
No Shortage of Roosters
The typical image of a flock of chickens is that of many hens and one rooster. Not so here: there are two mature males trying to outdo each other by crowing more loudly (or more pervasively), not just in the morning, but all day, and even throughout the night. Interestingly, they never bothered my sleep, however, I do feel slightly annoyed at times when the dude is standing right next to me, screaming his lungs out.
The two cocks could not be any more distinct. Though both of them are about a year old, one of them is said to be the ranch type, as our neighbor explained us, the other one's a farm type. The latter doesn't have any beautiful plumage to show off. Simple brown is his only color, with a bit of black in his tail. The ranch rooster, on the other hand has lovely yellow feathers around his neck, and a deep greenish-blue tint of his long tail feathers, curving back in a beautiful arch.
However the farm rooster makes up for his lack of colors with an enormous comb and a wattle, both flaming red, to which the other rooster can't even hold a candle. When it comes to social standing, it's clearly the rancher that's the mac-daddy of the coop. He comes running fast whenever the farm rooster tries to mount a hen, and doles out some fierce kicks. Still, usually by the time he arrives, the brown punk has already finished.
Coco, The Hen Nobody Likes
The cheekiest chicken of them all is the one we named Coco. Her jaunty comb and naked neck already gives her a weird look, but her personality is what takes the cake (quite literally).
She is a weird one, who prefers to mingle with us humans than with her own kind. On a hot day she can be found under our table, waiting for things that fall down, or subjecting herself to be hypnotized by one of us. Also, whenever the whole flock moves to one area, it's usually Coco who goes somewhere completely different. Is she being ostracized? Or does she simply not give a hoot about the rest of them? Maybe she's only out to get some extra food... unlike the other ones, Coco doesn't mind snatching a piece of bread right out of the hands of some careless eater.
In spite of her shortcomings, she seems to be the top hen, probably the oldest, who is a good layer and has brought up several young chicks, many of whom are reaching maturity around now.
When I arrived in January, there were three little chickens following Coco around. They were probably just getting old enough to be left to their own devices, and Coco was trying as best as she could to teach her children independence and self-reliance... by getting as far away from them as possible. Oh, such a great mother!
As the weeks turned into months, these young chicks grew into a pair of strapping roosters, and a little hen. The boys are usually busy being boys, and having found their voice, they just add to the older two roosters. It is especially the "little rancher" who likes to show what he's got. After all, it's not just the yellow neck feathers that leave no trace of doubt over who his daddy is.
Eggs in Unusual Places
While twice as many roosters simply mean twice as much noise, an extra hen indicates extra eggs... provided one can find them, of course. So while this means a perpetual easter-feeling, many times one finds eggs in places they weren't even expecting. This is how it happened with Julia in her van. Even though it's parked in the shade of the big Guanecastle tree, she likes to leave her doors open for ventiallation. But somehow, sometimes, a chicken gets in.
It is a black-tailed white hen that picked the place in front of the driver's seat, right below the pedals, as the ideal place to lay eggs. That's all good with us! Since we know where to look, we usually find an egg a day, whenever the doors were left open.