She is an Icelandic breed of chicken that makes her way all around the yard foraging. When she finds something good, she pecks and scratches as part of her chicken dance. We named this chicken Wee Beastie after she escaped from the chicken coop, and it was apparent she was going to thrive and flourish in all types of weather. The cold and snow don’t bother her. In the winter, she flies from the rafters in the loafing shed where she roosts at night to eat the grain in the morning with heifers. After that, she spends the day in a sunny spot in the bedding, scratching for wheat seeds in the straw.
She has always been a curious chicken, as she scratches in my flower beds for worms and bugs, keeping an eye on the dogs and I. She stops kicking mulch when I open the screen door to let out our two Jack Russell terriers. They are excited to come outside and sit waiting for their morning treat before we head to the barn. This is a daily routine for the dogs, and the chicken learned the dogs got a treat every time they came outside.
As spring went to summer, the chicken began venturing closer, wondering what the dogs were getting as a treat. Wee Beastie got brave and came on the porch to investigate, searching if anything was left. It wasn’t long before she started coming up when the dogs were getting their treat. She flies up to the porch rail and stands there until the dogs get their treat, and I toss a little piece to her. She looks to see if I have any more.
Wee Beastie waits for the door to squeak open. I really enjoyed watching how fearless she had become. That was the daily routine until she started setting eggs in the straw in the mow. She sat on her nest until all of her 15 eggs hatched. These little fluffy chicks came peeping out of the mow after a month following her and scratching, kicking straw and dust just like their mom. After her hatch, Wee Beastie focused on her chicks and stopped coming to get treats.
However, shortly after Wee Beastie settled into the mow nesting, one of our turkey hens started coming from the barnyard. We have seven Narragansett turkeys that hang out in the backyard. They must have been watching all of the snacks being given to this chicken. I find it so funny to watch the turkeys looking at me. They have their eyes on the side of their heads, and they all turn their head to see me. Obviously, they are keeping an eye on me to see what I am going to do.
So, what do I do? I go back in the house and come out with a piece of bread. Tearing it into little pieces and tossing it to the hen, she quickly pecks them up as the other turkeys see that she is getting a snack. They all gather around off of the porch and wait for a piece of bread. I try to make sure everyone gets a piece. I wouldn’t want any of them to be sad. But honestly, the turkey hens are quick.
As the summer has rolled into September, the turkeys are still greeting me and the dogs every morning off the porch. The two Roman-tufted geese watch off in the distance, not sure if they want to challenge the turkeys for the bread. I throw some their way, but the turkey hen is fast. They don’t have a chance.
Wee Beastie is now on her second hatch of 11 chicks. The 15 chicks of her first hatch are doing their best job at foraging, kicking out all of the mulch under my flowers. These teenage chicks have not ventured to the porch, and I will have to figure out soon which ones are pullets or cockerels.
As the onset of winter comes and the fields are harvested so too are the animals that have grown up this season. The pullets will replace the hens that worked hard all year laying eggs, and the roosters will end up in a pot for a hearty fall soup. Wee Beastie is too special though. She will not end up in a pot. I am certain she will return to the porch for treats after all of her chicks leave the nest, fly the coop or simply grow up.
With so many animal adventures on the farm, I am certain to have a collection of stories to tell my grandkids. I have named a few animal characters and enjoy watching them and listening to their conversations. Every animal has a happy sound. Someday, I will share tales about these animals, and it might just start with a chicken.   
    Tina Hinchley, and her husband,  Duane, daughter Anna, milk 240 registered Holsteins with robots.  They also farm 2300 acres of crops near Cambridge, Wisconsin.  The Hinchley’s have been hosting farm tour for over 25 years.