Shetland Sheep: Rich in History, Rich in Textiles

Shetland Sheep: Rich in History, Rich in Textiles! Our farm mission is to enjoy and promote the wonderful diversity of the Shetland breed by fully utilizing to the best of our ability all they have to offer historically. We believe the best preservation and management of this breed includes it's full spectrum of history. We encourage old and new shepherds alike to join in the fun by engaging in fiber arts, especially spinning and knitting, as this breed is so intimately linked with those aspects of the arts.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Farm: Hen Spa

A very busy place!

Oh yes, girls will be girls!  Except roosters love the hen spa just as much as the hens do.  Here is Sweetie Tweetie.  In the chicken world, she's called a Buff-Laced Polish hen.  She came to our farm six years ago as a little yellow chick with a little yellow pom on the top of her head.  She was taller than all the other chicks, but that didn't seem to bother anyone.  This year, Sweetie Tweetie is going to the fair...not for the rides you know!  She wouldn't like the wind in her lovely pom...

Sweetie Tweetie is outstanding in her upkeep of herself.   She busily attends to her feathers, and doesn't like to walk through mud puddles.  When it's raining, she doesn't like to use her pom as an umbrella, so she's one of the first to dive for cover.  Despite the fact you'd think she cannot see anything, as her pom seems to completely hide her eyes, she seems to have that outstanding chickie eyesight.  If a hawk comes around, you won't see her anywhere...she knows and she hides way before you'd notice anything.

The rest of the time, she is a busy forager.  All around the farm she trots, quite fast sometimes.  She dives for grasshoppers in the grass, leaps up to snatch a leaping cricket out of the air, and loves early evening strolls on the lawn, snatching up bedtime snacks.  Speaking of bedtime, she's an early to bed/early to rise type.  She loves sleeping on the window seat, so I have to be careful to close the window when rain might come in the night.  

The picture you see here is one of her favorite places.  We call it the hen spa.  This is where all the chickens like to dust a place where I dug out a plant to relocate it.  I left a little hole there, thinking when I saw it that the chickens would like it.  Yep!  They do!  Dust bathing is critical to chickens.  The dust helps them keep their feathers free of blood-sucking mites and bugs.  It helps them preen their feathers, and it just plain feels good to roll around in the dirt.  When bathing, they will roll their heads upside down and rub their heads in the dust.  When they stop, you'd think they were dead if you didn't know better!  They need that dust be have pretty feathers and healthy skin.  They need the dust and the motions to feel happy and healthy. Just think if you couldn't ever bathe?  What would your skin feel, look, and smell like?  Would you be healthy?

In having the chickens, you see for yourself how cruel cage life inside a building day and night truly is.  No sunlight, no dust baths, no bugs to leap and dive after, no scratching, and no trotting around.  It must be a positively miserable life.

Sweetie Tweetie, you sure are a LUCKY GIRL!

By the way...Polish chickens are NOT Polish!  They're DUTCH!  Imagine that.  The Dutch people adore chickens SO much, they created the first poultry museum in the Netherlands.  Chickens are a very deeply entrenched part of Dutch culture and cuisine.  Polish chickens got their name from the Dutch, for in their language, it means "polled" or "with a knob or bump or poll on top of the head".  The Dutch developed the breed, and cherished them.  We're glad they did!  Sweetie Tweetie types are GREAT additions to the farm flock.

Now if only I had a spa....

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