Flocking is NOT for the Faint

These are some of our pretties.
The colorful one is our rooster, Frenchie.

The title says it all.

It could also have read: Chickens are not known for their brains.

When I was growing up our interaction with livestock was reduced to cats and dogs. We lived in urban areas and visited relatives on their respective farms. My husband had similar experiences except he participated in 4H and kept chickens as a kid.

We moved to the country a while back and the property we purchased came with chickens, a game hen (noisy bastard), and two cats. It was a package deal and I wanted the house so we agreed. Actually I thought the chickens would be fun.

Silly me.

Two eggs from the same chicken.
Size matters, eh?

I love farm fresh eggs. I love that they come in a variety of colors because we have lots of different breeds. Chickens are hilarious to watch because they’ll try to eat anything. Sharks bite things to discover if they’re tasty and worth eating – chickens are pretty much the same way. It’s absolutely hilarious to watch them try to eyeball something because they hop around with one eye focused at the ground.

They have no common sense. None. No logic skills whatsoever. Maybe mine are just helplessly stupid…I dunno. They do have a wonderful sense of discovery. They can “discover” the same thing every day of their lives. Need an example?

OMG! Food…there’s food everywhere!
(this is the feeding trough)
 
OMG! A nice place to sit if I could shove my sister onto the floor!
(this is the roost)
 
OMG! Look at those excellent cubbies in which to snuggle!
(these are the nesting boxes)
 
OMG! Bright shiny…so warm!
(the sun)

OMG! It’s soooo dark!
(nighttime)

And yes, it’s true, everything a chicken thinks and says is punctuated with exclamation points.

OMG! Everything?!

We have eggs in a wide range of pinks,
blues, and greens, as well as every shade
of beige from almost white to mahogany. 

They love to eat leftover scraps, clear the yard of insects, eat dandelions, chase the cats, follow deer, and peck at gopher holes. Our rooster in particular, has a wonderful disposition and can somehow stay two inches ahead of our son no matter what. It’s great fun to watch them playing tag in the yard. The chickens also provide an abundance of fresh eggs and are always happy cheerful little feathery busybodies.

I’d really miss them if they were gone.

They require maintenance and can be prone to health problems, practically offer themselves up as sacrificial treats to predators, and two dozen can eat a prodigious amount of feed. Of course we don’t need two dozen, but I refuse to get rid of them when their egg production wanes. On the whole, we spend a lot more money on eggs than if we just bought them in a store, but the birds give us back so much more.

Cuckoo Maran peep.
She’ll lay chocolate brown eggs.

Our next step is to try hatching some eggs in an incubator. I know…it’s easier to let the chickens do it, but really, if we wait for them to sit on the same nest for a month – it’ll never happen. Besides, the experience will be fun for the Wee Beast – which is the excuse I need to spend the money on the equipment.

Have any chicken stories to share? Did you know most cities allow hens (no roosters – too noisy) so you can keep a backyard flock most places? You can get peeps at one day old and raise them yourself….it’s fun. Think about it!

Tags: urban chickens, backyard flock, poultry, family chicken, dinner in the yard, fresh eggs, Easter egg chickens, americauna, aricauna, cuckoo maran, rhode island red, jersey giant, welsumer, barred rock, peeps

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  1. #1 by joeh on November 28, 2011 - 5:34 pm

    OMG, really freaking funny!The Cranky Old Man

  2. #2 by Lesann Berry on November 28, 2011 - 9:05 pm

    Thanks joeh! They give me a smile too – when I'm not trying to save them from self-immolation. Caught one yesterday with her head stuck through the fence, squawking and flapping like mad. It was a visual.Nevermind that she could turn her head sideways and slide back through…absolutely NO reasoning ability. Whatsoever.

  3. #3 by towriteistowrite on November 29, 2011 - 1:16 am

    Hilarious, and so true, especially the dialogue. I can see them now–OMG! OMG! Not a lot of short-term memory, but plenty of optimism. Individually, however, they can appear rather intelligent. I think some of their flakiness has to do with peer pressure.

  4. #4 by Lesann Berry on November 29, 2011 - 1:50 am

    I know our chickens are spoiled because they run for the fence when a person walks into view. They've learned to equate humans with tasty treats like cracked corn and oil seeds.Our rooster is a pretty smart guy and one of my favorite hens was a sweet little thing. We lost her earlier this year to a predator – a very sad day. She was named Nosy because she just couldn't leave well enough alone. I'm sure whatever creature killed her didn't have to put out much effort. She probably walked right up to say hi. She was always trying to snuggle up against your leg and if you sat down she hopped into your lap and would spar with the cat for petting.They're silly birds but still a lot of fun. =)

  5. #5 by Marion Spicher on November 29, 2011 - 3:50 am

    Lesanne, what a great post to read! I love your voice. Such a mystery, the voice thing, but not when it comes to yours. I always have a smile on my face when I'm done reading one of your posts. And now I am an expert on chickens. Grin.

  6. #6 by Lesann Berry on November 29, 2011 - 9:24 pm

    Thanks Marion! The voice thing is so hard to hear in yourself – I always think I just sound like a dork. It's like hearing yourself on the answering machine and going: OMG, is that what I sound like to other people?? Somehow it doesn't seem so different in the writing, but thanks for saying it's good!

  7. #7 by debrakristi on November 30, 2011 - 4:34 am

    OMG! You're so funny! I'm thinking I need to talk my mom into getting chickens up at the goat farm so we can visit them and get fresh eggs. The kids can then chase the crazy birds around. The neighbors already have some so it shouldn't add much more noise than already exists.

  8. #8 by Lesann Berry on December 1, 2011 - 4:54 am

    Thanks Debra!I hope you get some chickens and discover how much fun they are. They do require supervision, even in a secure place…sweet-but-not-so-smart. …but maybe that's just mine. Lol

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