Home > Uncategorized > Who Said Chickens Weren’t Entertaining?

Who Said Chickens Weren’t Entertaining?

Red ones, striped (barred) ones, white ones, you name it–chickens abound. And raising chickens for whatever reason is a hoot and a lot of hard work. I’m not talking commercial chicken growers here. I’m talking about the backyard farmer.

Work?

 

You betcha there’s work. You must  house them securely so that other wildlife eats your egg producers or their product. There’s all sorts of fencing considerations for security, especially if skunks inhabit the area. Did you know skunks can squeeze through chain-link fencing? Trust me, they can. But then, so can rabbits.

Feeding can be messy, dusty, expensive and yet simple. I know. Contradictions galore.

Commercial chicken feed is pricey, but necessary. It can be augmented, however, by feeding penned chickens greens of all types but noxious ones or allowing them to free-range in the yard.

Free-ranging isn’t possible in some areas due to predation. If the grower builds a big enough enclosure or a portable ranging pen, both chicken diet and health are improved.

Then you have clean-up duties. Every few days the straw in coop and enclosure must be raked out and fresh added. Of course, this does contribute to that wonderful compost pile that one builds adjacent. Best fertilizer in the world if used sparingly.

Play Time

 

Now the one thing that most people without chickens, and even some with the little beasties, don’t know is that chickens are God’s little comics.

When we lived in Arizona, we ran several breeds on our small place, The doubled fencing towered over the enclosure with a full covering of chicken wire to prevent one of our wee birds from constantly escaping.

You see, Red thought she was a pigeon. She’d seen herself in a mirror, evidently, and recognized her true heritage. That bird could fly, let me tell ya.

Their coop had nesting boxes, waterers and feeders, two small windows, a man door, and one roof vent skylight as used on RVs. It was ramped for easy access. And it had electricity, too.

Those birds had it made. Most people don’t get babied as much as they did. My sister’s late husband decided that they needed some form of shady spot to get out of the blistering Arizona sun. He was right. That coop got very hot in the afternoon, even with windows and vent. They didn’t need to be stressed anymore than was absolutely necessary.

So, Rich went down there with six big square straw bales and a large panel of sunshade material. (We’d just finished putting sunshade in front of the solarium’s window wall and had some left over.) In a matter of minutes one large U-shape took form. The first row of bales formed the shape. The sunshade was secured to those bales to form a shaded resting area beneath and between, and the last three bales were placed atop the first three for added security.

The girls had perching room and a shaded area that allowed fresh air flow and comfort for dust baths.

It wasn’t long before Rich, my sister and I were sitting down at the enclosure in lawn chairs watching the girls. Yes, they had discovered that sunshade will move with weight applied. They would perch themselves at the open edge of the sunshade and proceed to swing. The first one taught the next, and the next taught her bunk mate, and on and on.

Always Coming Attractions

 

When he saw this, Rich said something to the effect that they were obviously bored and might need gym equipment inside the enclosure. Sis and I looked at each other like the man had lost his mind. We were all for making the birds comfy, but building gym equipment seemed to be taking the situation a bit too far.

We talked him out of putting in a large ball for them to play with. Such items could encourage pecking, which in turn could cause said ball to either deflate to a point where they could pick it apart and swallow some of it, or explode and kill them all from fright. Not likely to explode but still possible.

Diets Come and Go

 

Now, I grew up on farms where we always had chickens, so I knew that kitchen scraps were okay for the birds as long as we never had meat scraps mixed in. Our girls waited each day for whatever treats we would bring them to add to the bland, not-so-enticing chicken mash that filled their trays.

The first few times we took the scrap bucket down to the girls they weren’t quite sure what to make of it. It didn’t take long for them to get the idea. From then on they anticipated our arrival with enthusiasm.

We watched them from our lawn chairs as they enjoyed their treats. They knew what tomatoes were because we lobbed unusable ones from the garden into the pen each day. (Caveat: Never give chickens anything with garlic or onion in it. It ruins the eggs.)

Jello, however, is permissible and encouraged from our viewpoint. The first time one of the girls grabbed hold of that puddle of brightly colored treat, we began laughing.

Smears of cold jello ran across the poor thing’s face. She blinked furiously at this new sensation and tried desperately to remove its presence from her beak. And no, it wasn’t doing her any harm. It was cold. They weren’t used to that or the texture of the jello.

As seemingly distressed as this chicken was, though, she wasn’t willing to share this unusual vittle with the others. Homemade gravy with a side of biscuits made its way into the bucket occasionally. It produced much the same effect as the jello.

Some things occasioned an impromptu game of keep-away, like clumps of withered grapes or wrinkled cherry tomatoes. One chicken would snag the cluster of fruit and begin running. Others would see the scurrying coop-mate with her prize and take off after her. The event usually ended in a tug-o-war between the one with and those without until a spectator rushed in while the combatants were focused on each other to pluck a fruit from the cluster and swallow it before a protest could be sounded.

The best afternoon of all, though, was the day that Red discovered how to slurp spaghetti. She got one end of a noodle in her beak and partially down her throat. Beyond that we couldn’t figure out how she managed to do something human kids have done for generations. She slurped that noodle down her throat as fast as any five-year-old. She looked around to see if anyone had noticed and seeing everyone occupied with their own treats, proceeded to take up another noodle.

It took weeks for others to catch on to what Red was doing, but finally an entire handful of chickens had begun the ritual of spaghetti slurping. I will say, however, that their slurping was much quieter than that of humans. They don’t go in for sound effects so much.

There you have it. Chicken humor on the half shell. That wasn’t all the humor they provided, but that’s for another time.

Enjoy the comics around you, regardless of size or shape.

A bientot,

Claudsy

 

 

 

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. August 16, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    I love chickens. We had them for several years when I was a kid. They were mostly free range with a fenced in coop area. Our problem was roaming dogs that would take them out here and there. But they were the funnest animals.

  1. August 16, 2010 at 6:41 pm
  2. August 16, 2010 at 11:00 pm

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