The Chicken Whisperer

All I can say is, be careful what you wish for! Dreaming of my own fresh eggs and being one step closer to producing more of my own food, not to mention all the wonderful fertilizer for the plants, I’ve been wanting to get chickens for some time now, but hadn’t had the time to prepare a coop yet. I was sure we would wait until next spring to begin this new venture. But what did I know?

Last weekend, out of the blue, we were given 16 young chickens that needed a home immediately.

Yes, I said 16.

We had to hurriedly scramble to put together a safe, cozy home for them. We ended up converting a dog kennel into a chicken yard by covering it completely with chicken wire, and we used a bunch of scrap wood to build a secure coop inside it. The dog kennel is one of those huge chain-link thingies that was also given to us some time ago. Our dog won’t use it because he thinks he is one of the children and has full rights to the house.

The chickens are all small now, so they have enough room for the moment, but we know that will change as they grow bigger. Thankfully, our son is planning to take half of them as soon as they develop enough to see which are hens and which are roosters. He already has a coop. We also plan to extend the dog kennel to make a bigger yard for the ones we keep.

Chickens are funny creatures, I’m finding. I’ve really enjoyed sitting out by the chicken yard just observing their behavior and the way they communicate with one another, peeping warnings to the others to scatter if you come too close, sometimes fighting, always looking for bugs and worms. If one finds a particularly tasty morsel like a fat worm, it will take off running away from the others to try to eat it before they see it. But as soon as the others see the lucky one running, the jig is up. Busted! The others will all take a stab at darting in to grab it away, only succeeding if they are very fast.

We had a chicken run the first day we brought them home. They all got out of the pen at once. They mostly all stayed together during their frantic escape, peeping to each other which direction to take. Run this way, no here she comes, run that way, no back this way, wait, there she is again… It was hysterical.

We’ve settled into a daily routine of feeding and watering and securing the coop. Now I’m looking forward to all those gorgeous, super nutritious, golden-orange yolked eggs, and a very rich compost pile for next year’s garden.


6 Responses to “The Chicken Whisperer”

  1. Hillary on 14 Jul 2008 at 12:11 pm

    I love my chickens! And the great thing is that you will not have scraps again; chickens will eat anything! Mine range free; now my garden is contained. I also have geese and ducks. I can sit and watch my poultry interact for hours; a great form of meditation. And the eggs! I actually like eggs now. Just remember not to boil fresh ones; let them sit for at least a week before you boil them; otherwise, they will imposstible to peel. I keep a few boiled all the time for a quick snack. If they get too old, just throw them to the chickens. And be sure to give them the used shells for calcuim.

  2. Sarah Head on 15 Jul 2008 at 7:23 am

    My parents have always had chickens and looking after them is keeping them young now they are nearly 80! As Hilary said, they will eat everything. Ours especially like mice – usually those which have been caught in a trap, but occasionally we’ve seen the cockerel chase a live one across the farmyard!

    When my first son was born (26 years ago), my mother brought my great aunt up to see him. She was about 92 then and lived until she was 98. Accompanying them was a newly hatched chick in a teacosy on his own hot water bottle, who couldn’t be left on his own. I have a lovely picture of my middle one with baby chicks eating from his hand and he was a child who could never sit still for an instant normally! He would stay with the chickens, sitting quietly for a long time until they tursted him enough to feed. Now, at 23, he still has fond memories of that and they all used to enjoy collecting eggs – hunting for the nests in the hay ricks in the barn.

  3. tammy on 16 Jul 2008 at 10:59 am

    What great tips and stories. Thanks Hillary and Sarah! I’m really loving this new venture, and learning so much!

  4. cathy on 17 Jul 2008 at 1:38 am

    please keep posting more as it goes! We’re thinking about getting chickens someday, and I love hearing how people make it work.

  5. plantain on 24 Jul 2008 at 11:04 am

    So cute! Chickens are so much fun.

  6. the Witchen Kitchen Beginner Herbal » Blog Archive » Tales From the Chicken Coop on 10 Aug 2008 at 11:05 am

    […] free range chickens, so yesterday, we took a big gulp and opened the door of the chicken pen so our new flock could roam a bit, standing close by in case they decided to take off to parts […]

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