Thursday, December 1, 2011

You Do Want Chickens. Really?

Chickens. To have or not to have, that is the question.
       My husband is trying very hard to convince me that I do, indeed, want chickens. I love fresh eggs and all sorts of chicken dishes, but the living birds are one of the few creatures I simply do not like. Why? Maybe it has to do with unpleasant childhood associations. Granted, some varieties are gorgeous, but this is counterbalanced by their stupidity. You don't agree? You could share stories about how smart they can be? I don't want to hear them. If we have birds, I'll be eating some of them. I'll feel guilty if I know I'm dining on an intelligent creature. I wouldn't name them, either. You name pets, not food.
       Riley tells me that in addition to eggs, meat, and guano, the birds could earn their keep by eating insects and seeds in the garden and by turning green areas into desert. Have you seen the movie Chicken Run? The lead hen laments never having felt grass under her feet. She doesn't mention that this is because chickens dig up anything green, either to eat or to search for something to eat. I get "irritated" at the thought of birds tearing up my carefully planned projects. But there is this big section of the bull pen garden that I want defoliated. I'm planning on using a shovel, like I have with the rest of my projects, but Riley insists on giving chickens a trial.
       So there you see them, chickens in the bull pen, "borrowed" from a relative to see if they can do the job. At a minimum, I'm hoping they'll find and eat overwintering tomato worms. Riley made sure I noticed too when he saw them dining on lamb's quarter seeds, I cannot really imagine them getting rid of the brambles and poke weed, let alone the quack grass. Naturally, at the moment, they're not doing anything. Well, sure,  it's night, but even this afternoon, they did nothing. Could be they don't like the several inches of snow on the ground. Riley claims they'll have plenty of opportunity for destruction come spring. We'll see. But, frankly, I think they'll have to have the garden plowed and ready to plant before I'll change my mind.
       Notice Sam watching the birds from the other side of the fence? Sam's intense interest reminds Riley of why his family "got rid" of chickens when he was a child. The dogs got them all. Nice imagery (not!) and yet another source of stress in dealing with dog/bird relationships.



  1. I'm so glad that you stopped by my blog so I could have the opportunity to find you! I'm your newest follower. I so, so badly want to live off our land more than we do. We only have an acre and much of it is wooded, but there are things we can do better.

    We have 5 chickens that run the back yard (which is fenced). We will be giving them to friends once their laying season is done so I won't have to worry about killing them myself. I can't do that (and yes, they're named). I do love the eggs though; when they're laying. Stupid chickens won't lay if it's too cold. Or too dark. Or they're stressed. Or molting. Stupid chickens. :)

  2. With 30 some chickens I can't say that they are all smart! Sometimes I'm amazed at their simpleness. But sometimes I'm amazed at how sweet they can be. I have a hen and a roo that will never be stew because they are not only named, but held and petted daily. The rest are destined for the crockpot when they quit laying for me. But you can order sexed baby chicks to ensure that they are hens and then they'll be around for quite a while. Easier than ordering straight run and then having to part with over half of your chicks a few weeks later :( They will decimate a garden if not confined properly.

    1. That comment in parathesis, Jennyerin, I've noticed. (printed words can't convey my extremely dry tone here.)