Anyone who has come to visit our farm has likely seen some of our more exotic-looking poultry. We raise Polish chickens, with crazy crowns of feathers that look like a wig, Golden Phoenix roosters have tails that can grow to be two feet long, and Cochins whose feet are completely obscured by feathers, making them appear to be wearing slippers. All these birds are kept in a pen visible from our parking lot, and the do get quite a bit of attention. However, they are not the most attention-grabbing birds we keep.
Two summers ago, Dan and I bought peafowl. Most people know these beauties as peacocks, but that is really only referring to the males of the species. Our ladies are properly called peahens. The babies, not surprisingly, are called peachicks. We got our birds as chicks, and peafowl are slower to develop than many birds, as they are long lived...they can live to be 50 years old! Our males are developing the first real tail feathers with the characteristic eye spots, and although they will get longer still in years to come (up to 6 feet!) they are beginning to be beautiful. Our hens will lay their first eggs this year, and we hope to hatch them in our incubator. However, peafowl can fly well and we worried about them escaping, so it's taken us some time to get a proper outdoor run set up. We were able to do that this weekend, complete with a roof made of netting, which makes it look like a real aviary pen. It's also located right along the road, which I'm sure will slow traffic going by!
It took our birds a day or so to get used to leaving the safe confines of the barn, but they truly seem to enjoy being outside now. We're thrilled to get them out where we can enjoy them as well, and it's a great time of year to be able to watch them. The males have been strutting, trying to impress the hens. Like turkey, they are able to raise their tails into an impressive fan. They can also vibrate them, which makes an interesting soft rattling noise as they follow the girls about. When all four peacocks start, it's quite a show!
They also make a variety of sounds, especially around dusk and dawn. The one noted in books as sounding like "help" does sound a bit like the word, but is an eerie, haunting cry. I'd be pretty worried if I were outside by myself around dusk and heard it without knowing the creature making it! There is also another cry that sounds...well, the closest I can come to describing it in print is like a bicycle horn!
In other farm goings-on, Dan broke ground for the first time this year with the horses. After discing under some cornstalks, he began plowing the cornfield and garden areas near the road. There are many more days ahead of working Dixie and Dolly to get our fields through spring planting, and it's always exciting to get that process underway!