Before we made the plunge into cattle and chicken farming, we dabbled in backyard chickens. My husband, at the time wearing a suit and tie everyday, longed for a "hands-on" life that gave him a chance to create something other than spreadsheets. And while I had a career that took me out of doors and gave me a chance to feel somewhat wild and free, I just wanted all the pets. Especially those that would provide me with delicious eggs!
Our first three chickens were Buddy, Amelia, and Francine. It got so cold while they lived in the brooder that we made a spot for them upstairs in our home, safe from the cats (who all tried their hardest to get to them, of course). Once they transitioned into their homemade coop, we visited them whenever we got home from work, fed them pecans, and generally felt like we were living some sort of idyllic life. Unfortunately, predators lived in city alleys, and two of our chickens were victims of a hungry opossum. We were sad, but these things happen! We had to be smarter than the predators, and we beefed up security. But Buddy - she survived. For awhile, she was an only chicken. We eventually purchased more, and then we made a giant leap of insanity and moved to my husband's home town to start a farm. An actual place with animals that we would raise and eventually sell for humans to happily eat knowing that they were raised cleanly and humanely.
The chickens moved first, and stayed at my in-laws in their lovely pasture with their chickens, miniature horses, and ducks. I had long conversations with Todd - how well would our city chickens adjust to rural living, would they fit in with the country chickens, and would they still give us eggs or would they quit producing in protest to being uprooted?? (You might refer to these concerns as "projecting", ha). Yes, they produced eggs even after the stress of being moved, and yes, they fit in just fine. We moved into our new home, but the girls stayed at our in-laws, as they seemed to be doing so well.
One afternoon, my father-in-law told my husband that he hadn't seen Buddy for a few days. Then about a week passed, and we had to tell our daughter that Buddy had been picked off by a predator or died (she asked about Buddy, and we weren't going to lie. But we avoided the conversation for as long as possible!). Our in-laws left town for a week, and we took care of their animals while they were gone. We kept a hopeful eye out for Buddy but knew that, in all reality, she wasn't coming back.
Another week passed, and my father-in-law called again. He was out in the pasture, and moved some old buckets around. When he picked up a large, overturned black one, BUDDY WAS THERE! She was all bones and feathers, but she was alive! My father-in-law took her to water, and she drank all evening. By the next day, she was scratching, pecking, and doing all of the things chickens do when they're enjoying life. Buddy the Wonder Chicken - survivor of opossums, moves, and overturned buckets. Needless to say, we fed her plenty of pecans that week, and yes, she is still giving us eggs.
Buddy has showed me that even chickens have personalities, possess resilience, and have a love of life. She has inspired us to produce food in a way that honors life - the life of the animals and the life of the ecosystem that supports them. In our previous careers, we kept thinking that there must be a better and more meaningful way to live, work, and eat - our Blackland Farm & Cattle venture is our attempt to prove that there really is.