There is something about my birds that just makes me want to smile. One of my red hen runs up to the front porch to greet me every morning as I step outside to empty the coffee grounds. I hear her heavy footsteps on the side deck and know that she is on her way, but even so, we almost collide as she rounds the corner. She cocks her head to the side and looks up at me out of one eye, as if to remind me that she is my favorite bird, and then she settles in to wait patiently by the front door, as we eat our breakfast. She knows that I will save her a bit of my cereal for a special treat, because she is my favorite bird after all.
And then after breakfast, as I open up the pigeon coop and spread scratch grains on their landing board, I love to watch the flutter of perfectly white wings. In what seems like an instant, 10 or more pure white birds are contentedly pecking at their morning treat. They mill about and peck here and there, and then, in an instant, they take off. They circle higher and higher into the sky over their gazebo coop. Their circles grow wider and wider as I continue on with my animal chores, but in time, I look up and see that they have changed their flight pattern and are now flying in a huge figure eight that spans from one side of the creek valley to the other. Their pure white freedom is beautiful to behold and gives my heart a flutter. Without a doubt, they are my favorite birds.
As I near the duck house, they see me coming. They stand up on their sturdy jet black legs, and stretch their ebony necks. A green shimmer shows along their backs, glinting ever so subtly in the morning sun. When I open the gate and scatter their grains, they begin their gravelly chorus, black bills pausing in raucous song just long enough to snatch up some delectable grain. I fill up their water trough, and only after they have flowed like a squawking river through the water do they head out into the yard, waddling in squadron formation, fanning out behind their leader. I have to smile as they head out into the orchard, my comic flock of black feathered foul. Yes, they are my ever so silly favorite birds.
And then there is the rooster! He stands at knee height, but when he puffs out his chest and thumps his wings I feel as though he is looking at me eye to eye, and I am wary. I have large sticks stashed about the farm that I often use as rooster deflection devices. My perfected move is half baseball half golf swing. He eyes me as I pass by and stomps the ground. I implore him to be gentle, but I thank him for his tenacity in protecting his multi colored flock of hens. Three times, that we know of, he has chased off the fox. This big bad rooster is very near and dear to my heart, the perfect protector of my hens, and perhaps my very favorite bird.
And then, of course there are my hens, all 31 of them; two black, three gold, four white, five buff, seven grey, and 10 red. They wander all over the farm all through the day, but every evening, just before dusk, they gather in the upper field, hunting for bugs and looking like scattered feathered gum drops. I go out to collect their multi colored eggs from the drop down doors at the back of the chicken coop. Every day I have a wonderful egg hunt, a few eggs from this box, one from another, none from one, and a whole basket full from the last! A few of the girls are already in the coop. The others are slowly making their way across the field. One heads up the ramp, then changes her mind to go after an unseen bug. I return to the cabin and stand at the kitchen counter as I put up the eggs. I watch out the window and see the last few hens waiting patiently in line to head up the ramp to roost for the night. I know that the solar powered door will close safely behind them. I put their eggs in the refrigerator. Without a doubt, they are my favorite birds.