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What does a chicken say if you get too close?


Hubby had talked for literally decades about getting chickens; as in, laying hens.

One day, he brought this chair home from the dump—a green metal thing that needed a seat—and called it a chicken chair. Apparently chickens were such interesting creatures that he could sit and watch them. I was skeptical.

Personally, I didn't know what all the fuss was about—we could buy eggs at the grocery store; and who needed the extra work, anyway?! But then, I reasoned, it would be his hobby, not mine. And I had this sort of romantic idea about a beautiful mixed flock and a rooster heralding the day with his cock-a-doodle-doo.

Long story short, we now have chickens—six hens and a rooster, at present: Cotton Candy, aka Boss; Snow White, who was the last rooster's favourite girl and is currently convalescing in my garage while her feathers regrow; Mahaki (don't ask); and my personal favourite, Nelly, who hatched out Honey, June, and Captain Oreo, last spring.

Another long story even shorter: these chickens have become my hobby, too. In fact, we argue about whose turn it is to do the chores—as in, who gets to do the chores!

Ya, it's weird.

I enjoy bundling up and heading outdoors in the winter, but I really need something to do while I'm out there; something to encourage blood to circulate! And, when the grandkids aren't here to keep me moving, shoveling the occasional snowfall and tending chickens is about all I've got.

This chicken-keeping venture we've begun, while entertaining, has not been without its learning curves. And hills. And valleys. And the most valuable lessons, no doubt, were learned during the -40 degree winter of 2022-23. There were desperate attempts to create adequate ventilation and ward off frostbite. There was frostbite. There were even sleepless nights (for me, that is. Hubby and the chickens slept just fine), and 2:00 A.M. trips out to the henhouse to ensure all was well. As I've been told, keeping chickens can be a lot of work, if you try hard enough.

This winter's been a breeze, in comparison, and we have been provided with farm-fresh eggs for the duration. No frostbite. No sleep lost. I must admit, however, that this would not be the case if left to trial-and-error alone. Indeed, it would have taken us much longer to learn the ropes, if not for the amazing chicken keepers we've found online and their skill and eagerness in sharing their acquired chicken-keeping wisdom with the world.

So, for a visual journey through my personal chicken adventure, I've posted a few photos and a video. But anyone looking for the nitty-gritty of keeping a happy and healthy flock should get acquainted with Aaron and Deanna at Homestead & Chill; Ashley at Practical Self Reliance; Kathy, the Chicken Chick; and The Homesteading Family.

It'll be another month or more till I can get into my backyard; and in the mean time—since I take good advantage of this winter respite from the garden—a few more puzzles will be worked, a few more afternoon crafts with the grandkids will be had, and I might even be found gluing garden seeds into toilet paper.

“I dream of a better tomorrow where chickens can cross the road and not be questioned about their motives.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson


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