The Funny Farm

The Funny Farm: Keeping Chickens Isn’t For Couch Potatoes

Chickens are ubiquitous. They are the most widespread bird species on the planet and outnumber people more than 3:1.  I always perk up when I see chickens on television and in movies. They often figure as extras in a bucolic backdrop of country or rural living. Occasionally they get in the way of a vehicle, but for the most part they are just there as part of the scenery. One imagines them only pooping outside and requiring just a handful of grain tossed their way each day.

Anyone who has had chickens knows that’s far from the truth. Chickens aren’t a no-maintenance pet. Not taking into account the stress of dealing with vulnerabilities to predators, injuries or illness there is our constant to-do list of chores: scooping poop, filling feeders and waterers, dealing with broody hens and chicks, schlepping heavy bags of feed and oyster shells. All this is done in sometimes less than perfect weather: sweaty heat, rain and snow, storms, dark mornings and late evenings.

Keeping chickens is not for the faint of heart. You can’t be a sedentary couch potato if you have a sizeable flock. Birds require daily care even when you don’t feel like it. I asked my Facebook followers for some humorous stories involving their birds and it quickly became apparently that the laughs were often at our expense: falls in the mud, poop in our hair, bruises, sprains and even broken bones. I’ve had a few of those myself and wrote about them in a post called Musings Of An Aging Chicken Keeper.

Here are some contributions from Bitchin’ Chicken’s followers sharing their own injuries.

Sophie Demers- King

During the hurricane I put my chickens in a tent in our garage. They did very well and were happy. The day after, our yard was flooded so I kept them in the garage for an extra day. I was able to let them out when the water receded and in the evening they went in their coop. When I went to lock them up I realized that there were a lot of ants and thousand of mosquitoes inside the coop. The birds were being eaten alive.

My husband was sick in bed so I couldn’t ask him for help. I decided to bring the flock back into the garage but by then I had thrown away the tent so I had to let them loose in there. The coop itself is 4’ off the ground and I couldn’t find my stepladder so I used a small step stool, which sank into the water and mud around the coop. I had to climb into the coop, grab a chicken and climb down the ladder backwards. I got to the last bird, my rooster, who started screaming when I grabbed him. I spoke to him calmly “don’t worry, you’re safe, you know how I always take good care of you” until he settled down.

Then I stepped backward to get on the ladder but missed my footing. I fell into the water and mud. I was all the way on my back in my pajamas, full of mud, my glasses and flashlight went flying. The rooster started screaming bloody murder waking up my neighbour’s chickens and by then everyone was screaming. It’s hilarious now but I wasn’t laughing then. What a spectacle. And now they think that they own the garage and we can hardly keep them out of it.

Michelle Engelhorn Nelson

Last winter I fell flat on my back in the mud and chicken poop in the coop. My girls all came over and were mashing my curly hair that is half down my back into the poop and snuggling and wanting treats. The roosters were walking on me and when I tried to get up I realized my forearm was broken and hand dislocated and broken at the wrist.

I crawled to the gate, made it inside the house and had a shower before I went to the hospital because I’m a nurse and didn’t want my co-workers to see me looking like that. I finally pulled sweats on but couldn’t drive because the pain was so bad so my neighbour had to take me. Titanium plates and 18 screws later it’s almost funny today …. almost.

Erin Harris

When I was teenager, we had ducks. Every evening, I had to clean and refill the duck kiddy pools. I had to clean them daily because the ducks would poop in the pools a lot. One night, I was about to start cleaning the second out of four pools when I tripped on a root falling face first. I was covered in duck water; it was horrible! All 40 some ducks laughed at me. I took my time finishing the pools then sprayed myself off and took a shower. I stunk like duck poop for a week after that.

Julia Tomlinson

Last week I was running with the chickens back to our side of the property and thought I tripped over a root. I ended up skinning my knee and drawing blood. I went out later and turns out it was an old tree stump covered in high grass.

Shannon Greenwood

I broke my nose from a childhood injury chasing chickens to put them away for the night when I walked into a roost bar in the barn in the dark.

Joelle L. Lardi

I ended up with tendon injuries in both shoulders from having to give our ornery rooster antibiotics, and he did not take them quietly.

Gretchen Rae Morphew

No pics but my broody momma that hatched me some babies this past spring left me bloody and bruised numerous times when I was trying to change water and feed them while she still had the chicks in the maternity ward. She wasn’t happy and would straight up attack me relentlessly just for trying to feed and water her. Her name is Karen.

Also not the chickens’ fault but one of my 80lb dogs got underfoot (worse than usual) while I was trying to get into the chicken yard to tend to them. I fell so hard the ground should have shaken. It was a solid fall and I was trying not to land on my face and knock my teeth out, so of course I caught myself one handed. It was late and I wasn’t sure if it was broken or not, but didn’t want to spend the night in the ER to be told it was sprained. So I knocked myself out with Benadryl, put ice on my wrist and found a brace I already had and wore it to bed. The pain was slightly better the next morning and I could move it. I wore the brace for a few weeks till I could regain basic use without pain. If I move something heavy or put extra strain on it still hurts.

Linda Taylor

I fell and broke my hip while chasing chickens to get them in the coop at night. That happened the end of April. Since then I’ve had COVID, Walking Pneumonia, my fibromyalgia and old back injury are in full bloom. Pain is very intense… God has a plan–He just hasn’t shared it with me yet!

And of course, there are all the pecking injuries:

Thanks to everyone who shared their stories and photos. If you got something you’d like to add to this post drop me a line by using the ‘contact’ button on my home page.

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Everything You Need To Know About Small Flock Chickens & More

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