Monday, March 17, 2008

They Do As They Please

My chickens are one of my great joys in life.  So are my children, but that doesn't mean they don't both do silly things that aggravate me sometimes.  The trouble is, you can't ground chickens from the computer or the Wii or the telephone, or the car.

My seven chickens only get out to free range on our acreage for about 2 hours a day.  The rest of the time they scratch about in their run.  Their run is about 16x25, so they have plenty of room to laze about, take dust baths, and lay their eggs in the coop.  The reason for being in the run most of the day is three-fold----predators, laying eggs in the same place every day, and naughtiness.  They get in a whole world of trouble when they are free to wander about.  It doesn't matter one bit to them that we have four lovely acres to search for snacks on; they have to wander nearly an acre away to scratch about in my neighbors flower beds.  We have flowers beds at home!  Luckily, my neighbors are good sports and don't strangle me when they find out that is wasn't armadillos in their beds, but chickens.  Another bit of naughtiness is coming into the fenced backyard (again, we have 4 open acres!), and drinking out of the dog's water bowl and pooping on the porch.  Ever had a nice doggy kiss after they've been eating chicken poo----eewww!  I've blocked all the places they can scootch under the fence, but they find new ones.  The same goes for the area around our pool.  I can look up from making dinner and find seven chickens taking dust bathes in the beds behind the pool.  Do they scratch about so that all the dirt and mulch end up outside the fence?  No, they scratch so it ends up in the pool!  The same goes for the mulch in the beds around the house.  We have very large beds, so for all their scratching and searching for bugs, the upturned mulch should mathematically end up somewhere else in the beds---not!  It ends up on the sidewalk, the driveway, or outside the beds in the grass.  Recently they've added a new bit of naughtiness to their list, but it's not so bad and doesn't harm anyone.  It just has me shaking my head.  If you'll notice in the top picture, there is a very cozy nest box that they have used for 3 years without problem.  It's up off the ground a bit and helps keep the fireants and dampness off their bottoms as they lay their eggs.  Do they use it anymore? What do you think?  One of the hens decided it would be more fashionable to lay just to the right of the box.  Do you see the eggs peeking out of the hay?  Oh well.

Despite all their flaws, I find my ladies and gentleman to be very soothing.  They always seem to be working for their keep, they greet me as I work in the garden, they listen without giving advice, they like to gossip a bit, and they are beautiful in a chicken sort of way.  My wonderful father-in-lay mentioned this year that since they aren't laying eggs every day that it might be time to make some chicken and dumplings.  Not these girls, they have names.  Rosie, Sunny, Audrey, Sophia, Violet, Penny and our roo, Tuesday.  


  1. CeeCee, this post made me laugh. We have the exact same problems with our chickens, which is why they are also relegated to their pen most of the time. Our yard isn't interesting enough--they take of for the neighbors' yards any chance they get! When they do stay in the yard, it's like you said. They steal food, mess stuff up, and get themselves trapped in weird places.

    Still, they're the best pets I've ever had!

  2. It must be a chicken thing to love to scratch the mulch OUT of the flower bed and onto the sidewalks. You'd think they could scratch it back towards the dirt part, but nooooo, out on the sidewalk it goes!

  3. My husband also thinks they're the best pets we've ever had---they work for their food by eating bugs and laying eggs.
    I've decided they are the 'gardener's fish tank'---I can sit down to watch them peck around and suddenly it's a half hour later and I'm totally relaxed. Mezmerizing, just like a fish tank.

  4. Oh My goodness! Your chickens are GORGEOUS!
    They look so happy and plump, too! hehe
    And I think their names are beautiful. But why 'Tuesday' for your handsome roo?

    It's so wonderful reading another person's love of their chickens. I often wonder if people think I'm a nutty chicken lady because I treat my girls as pets and dote on them so much.

    I don't care, though. They bring me so much joy and calm my soul. As I can tell, yours do the same for you.....even if they are naughty, too. hehe

    My ladies are in the coop full time, though.
    We have tons of predators here, in the sky and on the ground. And two of our neighbors requested that we don't allow our hens to 'free-range' in their yards because they don't want their flowers destroyed and don't want to step in chicken poop.

    So, like you we just provide them with as large a coop as we can, plenty of sunshine, fresh air, grass clippings, and toss in kitchen scraps and insects as often as we can.
    Oh and we give them lots of love, too. (wink)

  5. I guess the chickens all read the same book--"How to Make the Most of the Neighbor's Flowerbeds."

    Twinville, I read your blog concerning keeping your hens in the coop and run full time. Completely agree with you. If my girls were in danger, they'd be behind a fence 24/7. We have a pair of Redtails about 10 acres away, but they are always in the open fields and not in our treed areas. Rabbits, rats and snakes are plentiful.
    Tuesday's name was very simple---he was hatched on a Tuesday. Only one other egg hatched; and since we didn't know if they were pullets or roos, we gave them simple names. He's a great boy--sweet and attentive to the hens and friendly to people.

  6. What a delightful post! I love reading about other people's chicken-pets. I'm so loving my little girls (and possible boy or two)! Also, it's good to read that your roo is a nice guy. I've heard soooo many horror stories. Does he crow a lot? My husband is really anti-rooster right now, because he's worried the crowing will wake him up...

  7. Tuesday does crow quite a bit. He evidently never watched any Hollywood movies where roosters only crow at first light.;) Roos crow all day, and very early in the morning. Tuesday usually starts up about 45 minutes before the sky begins to lighten.
    We solved the "husband doesn't want to be awakened" problem at our house very easily. On morning when DH wants to sleep in, I just put Tuesday in a small dog crate and stow him in the garage where he can crow to his heart's content and not wake a soul. I line it with hay and put him in after dark.