Monday, November 25, 2013

Chicken Tales, Episode 2

For the first episode of Chicken Tales, please click here.

I don't think one can really properly describe the funny antics of a chicken in a way that chicken non-owners can comprehend or appreciate. They're really just intrinsically funny creatures, everything from their weird long necks that bob at odd angles all the way to their funny hop runs, their insistence on private catering, and their intensely individual personalities.

Thus far, our chicken coop has had no windows, so it's pitch black inside even during the day.  This hasn't been a big deal until recently, since they spent their summer in the sun and were only inside at night, but now that it's winter (below zero, some nights), they really need to spend some days inside. We finally put some effort into adding sunshine (however sparse it might be) to their interior dwelling.  We ended up going with skylights, cutting out a square of roof and installing clear Plexiglas in place of the plywood.  It lets a LOT of light in, and makes the whole interior seem much more spacious, which is good, for chickens that get cabin fever.

But the chickens, see, they don't know that windows are solid.  All they know is that they do not like having the roof of their house open when it's dark outside, because that makes them feel vulnerable. So the first night they went to bed after we installed the window, we went out to check on them after dark. Sure enough, they were all scooched together on the roost on the far end away from the window. We walked over with a flashlight and shined it in, and there was Helga, the big white beast, sitting to the side of the area spanned by the window. She was sitting to the side of it to make it clear she disapproved, but she had craned her neck over so she could look directly out the window (it's an angled roof, so they can look straight forward and be looking out) and she was glaring at us.  If you've never seen a chicken glare, it's somewhat hysterical, and I'm afraid we rather undermined the seriousness of her opinion by breaking into laughter.

Helga is also the one who feels that she has a bubble, and it's not acceptable for us to be inside it. She puts up with our presence relatively graciously, although she always makes it clear that she's condescending to do us a favor by allowing us around.  She's all heart, Helga is.  But when we have the gall to touch her, oh then! She puffs up her entire body and makes this hysterical offended "BLUKblukblukblukbluk!" and I'm afraid that I really do egg her on, simply because her squawk makes me laugh every time. If I was a chicken, I'm not sure I'd be able to take myself as seriously as she takes herself. I mean, really. She waddles when she walks, and she thuds when she runs. I think any semblance or hope of dignity was long gone by the time she was four weeks old.

We let the girls out on nice afternoons, so they can soak up some sunshine and attempt to supplement their diet with whatever bugs are still around, braving the cold.  We haven't had any problems with predators lately; the neighbors with dogs moved, and the owls seem to have left for easier pickings.  But we still keep an ear out for their yells, and rush outside whenever they get particularly vocal. Unfortunately, they're starting to behave a lot like Peter and the wolf.

The other day they hadn't been out more than maybe half an hour before I heard a ruckus, so naturally I tore outside, because wouldn't you know it, the one time I ignore them will be the time there's actually a problem. I was in socks, and the hallway leading outside is hardwood and a waffle-rug runner. Well, you can guess what happened next: I completely slipped, wiped out on the rug, and ended up with a rather impressive rug burn on my hand for my troubles.  I didn't stop to think about it at the time, just jumped up and headed outside-- to verify that once again, they were just yelling because they get a kick out of it, and running flap races across the yard.  Didn't their mothers ever teach them that you only scream like that if you're getting murdered?  Sheesh.

That was a couple weeks ago.  My rug burn is finally starting to heal up, thank you very much...and they're still out there yelling their defiance to a world that dares to lock them up periodically.  The good news is that the new neighbors have a rooster, and no chickens.  Maybe he can show them what's up and whip them into a little better shape; they're obviously getting a little too big for their britches. (Helga's britches never fit her in the first place.)

If for some reason you're still considering chickens, you might want to watch this.  Chickens are a serious hazard to life as you know it.

This blog is part of the Homestead Barn Hop hosted by The Prairie Homestead.


  1. Love your stories... still laughing! We have a hen that runs just like Helga. The video is so true. We have been considering a goat...

  2. :) can't wait to meet your "girls!". (Not sure when that will be...)