I belong to a number of online chicken groups. The posts range from requests for help, show and tell, smiles and snarls and, occasionally, stories from folks that are able to inject some humour into the everyday life of chicken keeping. Let’s face it, lots about birds involves dust, poop, first aid and cleaning. If you can get a smile from your flock go for it.
This is a compilation of various posts from guest contributor, Amy Willetts, and her observations about flock life.
“Get chickens.” I said
“It’ll be fun.” I said
Well, I’m stupid!
I should have just stuck to Barred Rocks, easy peasy. You build a coop; they just know to go in at night. You provide boxes; they just know to lay their eggs in them.
But no – I had to have Drama Brahmas. So, I’m watching this Brahma for an hour this morning. She’s pacing the coop; she’s in and out of every box. She’s working herself up, and every other hen in the flock!
“KAREN! JUST GET IN THE BOX AND LAY YOUR **** EGGGGGG!!!”
Then she goes under the coop into a deep hole they had previously dug, where she begins panting, wings drooping, tail down, and starts closing her eyes.
Now listen, my least favorite thing, just under sticking my finger in a vent to feel for an egg is to put a chicken in a bath, but it’s looking like this is it. I’ll have no other choice.
So out comes the litter box, warm water, Epsom salt, and towel. And I’m mentally preparing for Operation Hen Retrieval. This is going to require me to catch the rooster, cover his eyes, sneak the granddaughter in to crawl under the coop and grab the chicken and get out before R2D2 kills both of us.
We head out to the coop and, of course, there she is in the run, pecking around and eating like nothing happened.
Under the coop, in the hole, is her prize work, which a Barred Rock is unsuccessfully trying to rescue. Rolling it up and dropping it back into the hole.
So, Operation Hen Retrieval turned into Operation Egg Retrieval, to which, the Barred Rock was like, “Hey thanks. Wait… come back with that!”
So, yeah: Get chickens… it’s so much fun.
Meet Karen and her prize.
If I Go Missing Question Angie First
Angie is starting to scare me.
She gets in the box to lay an egg, and any other hen that even entertains the idea of entering the coop is immediately warned.
This sound comes from what I can only assume is the pits of hell.
Oh, nope. That’s just Angie.
You may remember her from her short acting career.
Flo loves to sleep – standing up – in the fresh water.
But here’s the thing, Flo is the first to lay eggs. So, at this point Flo can do whatever TF she wants. Just sayin’, breakfast gets priority.
Let Me Just Show You How It’s Done
Did you realize all the different roles that a rooster plays in the flock? He’s more than just the baby daddy. He will stand between danger and his ladies. He will steer them clear of unsafe pecking grounds. He will bring order to drama between the hens. Today I learned another amazing hat that “The Boss” (as my grandson loves to refer to him as) wears in our backyard flock: teacher.
I went out to water the flowers at the coop this morning. I couldn’t find R2D2 anywhere. It turns out he was inside the coop. I looked in the window and asked him if he was taking a break. He’s been a busy guy: learning to crow, mating as many of the hens as he can catch and being an all-around weirdo. Then he goes to the door, and softly clucks out towards the run. Within seconds, in comes Flo, my most developed Barred Rock. She goes right over to the corner of the coop and begins scratching and situating. So, R2D2 goes over and kicks all the wood chips out of the corner till you can see bare floor. He proceeds over to the nest box, gets in, and begins fluffing the bedding around. Flo is intently watching him. He burrows his big ‘ole self down and makes a perfect indentation, all the while, still softly clucking at her. Then he gets out, and she gets in and lays down.
I realize that I may have enjoyed the ‘90s waaaaay more than I should have but I think he was teaching her that the box is where she is supposed to lay. And I feel like the conversation went like this:
“Listen, lady I’ll just show you because if you don’t start giving eggs we’re ALL going to end up in the freezer!”
By that afternoon, there was a perfect little egg in that box.
I have watched him do this with any new layer that enters the coop unattended by an already experienced hen.
Don’t discount the importance of these guys. They wear many hats, and all of them are an important part of your flock!
I am a Midwest farm girl whose been raising chickens for almost 10 years off and on. My husband and I traveled the US for three years, and decided it was time to come home, circle the wagons and teach the grandkids how to be more self-sufficient. Having chickens is the gateway to that life. Once you do it, you’ll never want to stop.
Thanks to Amy for sharing her stories and insights. If you’ve got something you’d like to share feel free to drop me a line by using the ‘contact’ button on the home page.