the way out here

Chicken chores and challenges

Posted 7/3/24

I’m a proud chicken farmer. I love having chickens, caring for them, making them healthy and productive, and sharing that with my egg customers. But that’s the shiny postcard face of the …

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the way out here

Chicken chores and challenges


I’m a proud chicken farmer. I love having chickens, caring for them, making them healthy and productive, and sharing that with my egg customers. But that’s the shiny postcard face of the matter. While I don’t subscribe to the euphemism that they are tiny dinosaurs because I don’t believe in evolution, I do believe they can be little mischief-making monsters. 

But hey, when they’re babies, they’re cute. Like most small animals, they spew forth a mysterious force of “awe” that renders most of us captivated with stupid grins as they bumble around in infantile ungainliness. It is more likely than not this cute stage that allows us to summon the patience to rear them to an age of productivity wherein they might actually begin to contribute to the cause of filling cartons as their so-called cuteness begins to fade. 

I myself still find even the old hens cute in their own way. Perhaps “full of character” would be a better way to describe it. I often like to catch them and sit with them on my lap to foster their ability to be handled. It’s not a typical chicken farm practice but I have just small enough of a flock to afford the time on occasion. After the initial shock of capture, most are more than happy to close their eyes and settle in for a chicken nap after some light preening and petting. Birds in general are social animals and although they will preen themselves and others, they often have unattended areas on their heads. It’s not unlike a scalp massage, I would assume.

Don’t tell the wife, but I have half a mind to get us a pair of peacocks as pets just to be able to sit and pet them. They’re not very practical otherwise, but sometimes you have to indulge your harmless intrusive thoughts. I get a lot of those, though, so I have to pick and choose a bit more. It helps being married to my very pragmatic wife. Coincidentally her nickname is Bird and she too enjoys a random scalp massage. 

Back to the birds at hand. So as I was saying, chickens can be cute when they’re little. Even possibly when they’re older. HOWEVER. They can also be little turds. I’ve had more than my fair share of peculiar incidents revolving around my chickens. I’d have to say that my current flock, which is perhaps my third or fourth flock since I started at age 14, is potentially my most eccentric. Most of my flocks have lasted between three and four years, with some rotation of birds throughout. My current one consists of birds as old as six-or-so years of age and yearling layers alike. 

This is not to exclude our two roosters Jacque and Pierre (because my wife decided they looked French). From a farmer’s point of view, I need to get rid of at least half of these birds. From an I’m-too-busy-to-address-this-yet point of view, I’m justifying the disparity in age and productivity. I love all my birds and they’re still cute to me. That is, until they do stupid stuff.

Said stupid stuff might include this past week’s newest chicky triumph. My two-year-old birds, who still maintain youthful athleticism, decided to Mission Impossible their way out of the newly created yard. To do this, they utilized their mature intelligence to get a running start behind the chicken coops, flap up the back roof—which is now lower to the ground than before—and scramble their way to the rooftop before sliding down the outside and out of the pen. 

How do I know it’s my two-year-olds? First of all, I know what my birds look like, but for a more involved explanation: the yearlings lack the general intelligence and creativity, and the old gals lack the physical dynamics, to achieve this jailbreak. I might also add that the old gals know enough by now to stay inside the fence where it’s safe and the food and water are. 

Regardless, I had been checking my new fence meticulously, trying to figure out why I had a chicken or two out for a few days, before I pulled up in the middle of the day to one of them claiming the rooftop in Lion King-style victory. You haven’t seen pride in a chicken’s eyes until you’ve seen them scale their protective countermeasures with an air of defiance.

The way out here we take care of our livestock, chickens or otherwise, but sometimes they’ll defeat your every effort just by being… let’s say cute.

And if you don’t want to try to keep up with the “cuteness”—well, that’s why we have farmers. Support local: you never know how much nonsense they went through for that little box of butt nuggets.

chickens, eggs, way out here, farming, agriculture, cute, nuggets


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