Tag Archives: Chickens


I walked up to our chickens’ house yesterday with their usual daily apple core treat and to check for any eggs. It wasn’t a usual day. There were four hens. There should have been five. They had never before left the confines of their relatively large chicken house. I walked around the chicken house, seeking clues. A mass of feathers ten feet or so to the west lay on the damp ground. My impulse was to put some of my blood in a kettle to boil.

I assumed a neighbor’s dog had killed one of our hens. They bark constantly and enter our property presuming dominion.

My husband knows far more about farming than I do. He grew up on a farm and, like his father, became a lawyer with a heart for farming. He thought a skunk was a more likely candidate for a chicken killer than a dog. I Googled “do skunks kill chickens?” and discovered that skunks are notorious killers of chickens. Good. There are no residences close enough to our chicken hutch to make it illegal to shoot a chicken-menacing skunk.

Thanks go to Ellen Pilch of the https://15andmeowing.com blog for reminding me I hadn’t posted in a month. I appreciate you, Ellen!


Filed under Animals, Nature, Gardens, Chickens, Home Life, Nature, Rural life

Chickens are treacherous, and other amazing facts

I am furious with our chickens, especially the witchy one who just attacked me.

Now that our erstwhile rooster is fulfilling his highest and best destiny (my husband sacrificed and canned the beast the last weekend), the hens are on the march.

I have brought the chickens an apple core as a treat every day of their post-baby chick lives. They have always received it hungrily and fought over it, each ultimately securing a portion. They never complained when I collected whatever eggs they laid. Today was different.

I brought them their apple core and held up the hatch of their hutch to check for eggs. For the first time ever, not one egg was intact. They have sometimes broken an egg but left others intact. Today all the eggs–I could not quite tell whether there had been three or four–were smashed and consumed. Only the shell fragments remained.

As I held up the hatch, one hen leaped onto my arm–these creatures have impressive claws–in an attempt to escape the hutch. I pushed her back and closed and latched the hatch. Then I went in and scrubbed my arm with Bactine. Chickens are incredibly filthy creatures.

It’s actually a negligible casualty, and chickens are far too dull to formulate an intention. I will still bring the hens their apple core, for two more days. We have two apples left, and the storage apples we get in summer taste like paper mâché. There will be no more apples until Fall.

I doubt the chickens will learn any manners by then–though I suppose that’s fair, since I keep removing their eggs.


Filed under Action & Being, Animals, Chickens, Weird

Sexers of chickens are not always right

Mistakes in sexing chicks happen. We wanted four hens. They were little chicks when we got them in March. They all looked alike. The second from the left has a large comb, but that isn’t always dispositive. He crows. His cocka-doodle-do goes off at 5:00 a.m. and off and on throughout the day. Worse, he’ll never lay eggs. But he’ll make good chicken stew.

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Filed under Animals, Chickens, Home Life, Photos

Chicken chase

I don’t wish to impugn Creation, but. . .chickens are stupid. Incredibly stupid. But I knew that when we got our first brood, back in 2006.

As I headed up the hill toward our chicken house with the hens’ daily apple core, I noticed that one of the hens was running around loose and squawking hysterically. It was the second chicken escape in two years.

The drama queen of our three evidently somehow dug her way under the coop, which rests on delicious fresh alfalfa. She was running around, circling the chicken trailer (aka “the coop” or “the ark”), apparently desperate to return to her chums, even though I held the door open for her. Thankfully, her mates made no attempt to join her frenzy.

I tried leading the scurrying hen by walking slowly ahead of her, but she panicked and bolted in the opposite direction, toward the end of the coop that had no door.

I tried chasing her, but I felt more stupid than I had reckoned she was, as she warily switched directions at panicked-bird speed.

Finally, I stood holding the door open and she ran in, batting her wings. I secured the door and hoped a Spring re-run was not forthcoming.

Our chickens are in an enclosure for good reasons. Errant dogs, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, and feral cats roam our field; and hawks, owls, and eagles hover and swoop down to seize prey. The hens’ enclosure has comfortable elevated roosts where they like to lay their eggs. We like the roosts too, because the eggs are accessible and fairly clean.

I collected the egg one of the girls had laid.  Walking back down the path to the house, I wondered whether the chicks housed in the small coop in my husband’s workshop will be as feisty as their two-year-old elders when they grow big enough to join them outdoors in the chicken ark. The sequel is just a few months off. . . .

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Filed under Action & Being, Chickens, Home Life

The chicks are growing up, Halvor turns to farming, and Effie remains the monarch of Effieland and the house

The little chicks are growing up, and in about four months they will become producers of eggs. Vic built them a larger hutch, and, thankfully, they no longer require heat lamps.

Halvor appears to have taken over the tractor, but I don’t think he has a key. . .

She who rules Effieland and its adjoining house


Filed under Action & Being, Animals, Cats, Chickens, Effie, Halvor, Home Life, Photo Galleries

The new girls on the hill

Our three Rhode Island Red hens are approaching four years old, and we don’t know when they will cease to lay eggs. Chicks are hatched, and we went to Primeland, the local farm store, and bought four Rhody chicks for $1 apiece. In about five months they’ll be laying beautiful large brown eggs. At an egg per hen most days, we’ll be well supplied–with eggs and chores.


Filed under Animals, Chickens, Photos

All things snow

A comforting snow–like a blanket–is falling and rapidly deepening.

p1020539The snow nurtures our dormant aspen.

p1020540The snow encourages camaraderie among our hens.

p1020542A quick stolen kiss on the porch!

p1020541“Where is everything?”
And, the snow revives Effie’s sense of awe and wonder.


Filed under Action & Being, Animals, Cats, Chickens, Effie, Halvor, Nature, Photos, Seasons, Weather

Effie, Protectress of Chickens: A High-Action Back-Yard Drama

It was a warm and windy day. Effie was restless, and I had to take her out in wind gusting above 31 mph.

Suddenly, she bolted up the garden fence and looked like she was going to slip her halter and escape!

escape attemptI caught her up in time, but she really wanted to leave the garden. We left through the gate and she surprised me by turning toward the field at an unusually brisk trot. I held on to her lead and jogged up with her. She stopped at the chicken trailer. Then I saw what she saw.


P1010635 A dove had infiltrated the chickens’ coop; actually, they do this fairly often, but this time it particularly perturbed the hens. Effie glowered at the dove in a way that encouraged its departure.

vigil Our tabby heroine remained on vigil a minute or so; then, assured she had saved the helpless hens, she led our jog back down the hill and safely home. A good time was had by all, etc.


Filed under Action & Being, Animals, Animals, Nature, Gardens, Cats, Chickens, Effie, Photos

Our fur and feathered girls, and their hiding places

P1010483Mathilde, one our six Rhode Island Red hens (all indistinguishable and all named Mathilde), exited the chicken tractor from a gap underneath the bottom when it was inadvertently moved over an uneven bit of higher ground. She wandered around the yard, trying to find a suitable nesting place in which to lay her egg. She finally gave up and returned to the hutch the same way she escaped.

P1010477For Effie, boxes are a source of ecstasy and fantasy.


Filed under Action & Being, Animals, Cats, Chickens, Effie, Photos

Chickens are stupid, and other not very amazing facts

It was actually I that was stupid. Bringing Effie with me to the chickens to check for eggs is a bit of a struggle. She pulls back on her halter; she clearly does not wish to approach the creatures. No doubt she apprehends her infinite superiority in the lifeform hierarchy.

But Effie sat as if glued to the door, desperate for me to take her outside as I was about to do the quick chicken run. Oh heck, why not?–I can just carry her up and back, put any eggs I get in the house, and take her back out for her outing. We’ve done it before, but it is difficult for me, managing her as she pulls on her lead while I endeavor to keep the chickens (Did I mention they are stupid?) from trampling the eggs before I can collect them and ensconce them safely into the plastic egg carrier for safe transport back to the house.

A lot of things work a lot of times and then suddenly demonstrate what “not working” means. This time I happened to catch the demo .

The chickens had laid three eggs in the roost and one in their yard, the earth floor of their chicken trailer. The yard egg was the biggest egg they have yet laid. I have no way to access the yard area beneath the enclosure; it requires more strength than I have.

Effie was already yanking on her lead, trying to distance herself from the chickens. The chickens were squawking and stomping about in their enclosed yard, eating the apple core pieces I stupidly stuck through their wire roof before noticing the yard egg. I didn’t want to lose the egg to the stupid stomping chickens, even if my stupidity with the apple core contributed to the situation.

Then I noticed a hole in the ground at the end of the enclosure. If I could get a stick through the wire and move it every couple of small openings in the wire, and scoot the egg to the hole with the stick, I could retrieve the egg.

It was working. But now the chickens, cannibals that they are, also wanted the egg. They followed the egg as I rolled it with the stick. I withdrew the stick to beat on their wire enclosure so they would retreat from the yard into the roosting area, and replaced it to move the egg along. I retrieved the egg and gave the enclosure another quick tap for bad measure.

The chickens panicked. But, much worse, Effie panicked. She slipped her halter!

I can confirm that one American woman, afflicted with a rather testy stupidity episode, was panicked, flummoxed, repentant, and under God’s protection.

Effie did not run far; she sat a short distance off and looked at me, and let me approach her. I put her halter back on and picked her up and nuzzled her. I was just so relieved that she still trusted me.

I have a new rule: Effie’s outings are hers alone, not to be shared with other missions. And the chickens are to be accepted as what they are–stupid–and chicken errands are not to be combined with any other undertakings.

Life could be simpler–but it isn’t.


Filed under Action & Being, Animals, Cats, Effie