I love reading about folks’ experience of keeping chickens: the ups and downs, the funny and the banal. I posted on my Facebook page a few weeks ago asking my followers if they’d like a spot in ‘The Funny Farm’, a series of light hearted tales of the joys of having chickens. Misty Elmore Swingle commented that I could use the material she had posted on her own Facebook page.
She and her family have only had chickens for a little over a year and the chicken posts followed a few months later. As you’ll see she fell prey to chicken math: what started as three unsexed chicks turned into two roosters and a hen, followed by a pair of Old English Game bantams and then four fuzzy Silkie chicks. You can’t blame her, it happens to the best of us.
Mr. Eggy, a.k.a. too big for his feathered britches, thinks that now that he cock-a- doodle-dos, eating from mommy’s hand isn’t cool anymore. “You’ll embarrass me Mom.” Ugh, whatever butt nugget.
I got my first rooster peck injury. My favorite handsome feathery nugget, Eggy, gave me one good hard peck when I opened the coop door this morning. I quickly grabbed him up in a chokehold, I mean a loving hug, and reminded him he loved me. After a little fight, I mean wiggle; he gave up…err…calmed down and allowed me to carry him around the yard. We talked about our favorite fast food restaurants and our favorite dipping sauces. He was a good furry chicken leg when I put him back in the coop. It’s good to have these talks from time to time.
Dr. Seuss week at school and today is “dress as what you want to be when you grow up”. This is based on the book “Oh, the Places You Will Go!” Of course, I want to be a chicken farmer when I grow up.
This glorious creature is my hen, Nugget. She looks more like a chicken hawk than a chicken, but she is a sweetie. She puts up with my need for love and feathery cuddles but she will not put up, or out frankly, for Mr. Eggy roo. Girl power.
Here are my 13½ week old feathery chicken nuggets. Shelly is grey and brown and Emu is black. They are living inside the house in a dog crate until they are big enough to live with the three amigos outside. Not only are the nights too cold for them right now out in the coop, but the bigger three could hurt them. I bring them out in a smaller crate and put them outside to slowly get them all to know each other. I’m really hoping these babies are hens since it looks like I have two roosters already. Shelly is very timid and such a sweetie. Emu, well, is not. So I either have a strong willed hen or another darn rooster.
I had my three chickens inside because of the cold and light freezing rain/snow. The sun is shining and the temperatures won’t get as cold tonight or tomorrow, so I put my two roosters back out in their coop first and then my one hen last. The boys immediately went for her. These nasty males were taking turns! I’m glad they are buddies, but this is going a bit far. I am so ashamed of Eggy and McChicken. I raised them better than that! Meanwhile, my girl, Nugget, comes running back to me. I’m sure she was feeling used and abused by these roosterholes. Needless to say, she is staying inside tonight. She suckered me into it with those sweet little beady eyes. She was almost purring as we walked back in the house she was so happy. I figure us girls have got to look out for each other anyway.
Chickens stink. I love having Miss Nugget as a roommate and all, but she’s gotta go! I’m going to have to set up a camp with a boy’s cabin and a girl’s cabin. I’ll be the camp counselor who spoils all the fun and never allows the boys into the girl’s cabin. To make that happen, we need another coop. Anyone have an old chicken coop lying around I could have or buy from you? Heck, anyone want to sponsor my girl and help pay for a coop? I can make a sign to hang on it with your name or your business’ name that says “(Your name here) Home For Wayward Hens.”
The power is back on and Nugget gave us another egg this morning. She made such a racket laying that egg, that the roosterholes below her were finally scared into silence. I have no idea how my teenager is sleeping in the room next to them. The dogs are so used to these chickens now that they don’t even care and are sleeping too.
We now have a bachelor pad for the roosterholes, Eggy and McChicken (Mick). We are also going to build a run for them to have more room. We moved the girls outside into their coop: The Home for Wayward Hens. Nugget, Emu, and Shelly seem to get along okay so I hope that means Emu and Shelly are females. If they are not, I will change Shelly’s name to Shamus because it would really be a shame if she turned out to be a rooster.
I’m going to start by saying that my husband is just at fault here as I am. We now have four, yes, four more babies. These are Silkies, which are the fluffiest of fluffy nuggets out there. I mean literally poof balls for hats. We have no idea if they are hens or roosters. Of course, hoping they are all hens.
They are only a day old, so I am holding off on giving names at the moment to make sure they make it through the week. Names I am considering are:
Hennifer, Henrietta, Princess Laya, Hen Solo, Eggatha, Henny Penny, and Repecka. I don’t want to jinx the possibility of having roos, but the names Roobawka and Cluck Norris are there too. They are so tiny at the moment that I don’t want to handle them too much…yet.
Just a heads up, if you buy this purse online like I did, you will absolutely love it. But don’t be like me and not pay attention to where it’s pecking when you take pictures. Sorry sister-in-law. (I don’t have a link for it, it magically showed up on my Facebook page and I gave it a chance.)
The feathery quartet is now three weeks old. They are still very small, soft, and fluffy. I opted for Silkies because they are supposed to be a sweet and loving breed of chicken. Silkies can be just like a pet but of course, these fluffy butt nuggets all hate me. I come in and say hello and immediately the sound of dread emits from their tiny beaks. I put my hand gently in their cozy home and they start to run into each other or the side of the bucket. All of this is done in an attempt to escape from me.
These babies have needed much more attention than the other chickens. I have had to clean more butts and eye gunk then I would like to admit. And still, when I pick them up, they try to jump to their deaths from my hand. These little sh*ts, …these little sweet birds will finally calm down when I force….when I hold them to my chest. I suppose they still need time to get used to me. It’s a good thing they are cute.
The Silkie chicks are now four weeks old. They had a growth spurt and are moving from their small and cute phase to the awkward phase. (The latter phase is the one I personally have not grown out of.)
They seem a little braver around me now, but overall they are still fluffy turds around me. They remind me of the Spice girls.
Hay-Hay (Scary Spice): Her egg must have been scrambled a bit before she hatched.
Repecka (Ginger Spice): If these four were a girl group, she’d be the lead singer and the one telling the other girls to make good choices and remind them hens before roos.
Princess Laya (Posh Spice): I have had to continuously clean her feet, bum, and eyes. She is very high maintenance.
Eggatha (Baby Spice) She is always running under someone’s wing. She gets scared easily. Such a chicken.
And I realize I really missed out by not naming one of these girls Cardi B(eak).
I accidentally took the most horrifying picture I have ever taken. I was focused on Hay-Hay, but I got Chewy looking at me like a little demon. Now I know where the term “deviled eggs” comes from. I hope Lucy-furr over here knows this ain’t going to stop me from putting a little hat on him later for more pictures. I got my eyes on you sir. I also have some Chick-Fil-A sauce handy too buddy. (That’s like holy water to devil chickens, I’m sure.)
My two beautiful roosters from my original three disappeared shortly after I got another coop for them so my hen could live in peace. I don’t know if they escaped, or if I didn’t lock the run that day. The bantams and my hen get along great, but they do not care for the Silkies. The two flocks live separately in their own chicken apartments. I think I have two roosters out of the four silkies. They just crow, they don’t act brave like a rooster should act. At least not yet. Late bloomers maybe?
Misty Elmore Swingle is a newbie chicken keeper with a flock of seven and admittedly slightly obsessed with them. She lives in Oklahoma where she works as a special education teacher’s aide, has been married for twenty-five years and has two kids and four dogs.
Many thanks to Misty for her insights in keeping chickens and photos of her flock, used with permission.