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Monday, May 23, 2011

how ‘bout some Chickens?

Soon after we got our impulse bunnies, we invested in chickens. It was inevitable! Our garden shed here was already perfectly set up with a large fenced in chicken run, roost, laying boxes, feeding trough, and an adorable little chickeny door. Hey, presto, just add chickens!

So we called the number in the ad in the paper that I’d been eyeing for months advertising “young laying hens.” It was a man at a chicken farm about 30 minutes away. (I should add that I had asked the Bunny Lady about hens because her ad had also mentioned them, but she was fresh out of young chickens that day, wouldn’t I like to come see a bunny instead?)

So on a Tuesday afternoon when the kids didn’t have school, we went to the Chicken Man. I don’t know what I expected, but not quite what we found.  A large building with lots and lots of chickens, chicks on one floor, slightly older pullets in a pen behind, and upstairs on a big, stinky, floor what must have been hundreds and hundreds of chickens. Only we couldn’t see because they were in the dark. I’ve never quite understood why they are kept in the dark, to keep them calm or something? Anyway, we didn’t like it, and while the Chicken Farmer (who seemed nice, despite keeping his chickens in the dark) had his back turned, the kids and I were happy together that we could rescue a few hens out of the darkness and confusion.

He had three colors: white, brown and black, (I don’t even know the breeds – isn’t that ridiculous?), so we asked for two of each, for prettys. So while we waited just outside, Mr. Chicken Man went into the big, dark, fluttery room with a flashlight to, as he put it, “fish you some chickens!”

Then when he had three, his cell phone rang. Calm as anything, he answered with three hens dangling from his left hand. There they dangled upside down, looking quite perplexed with this turn of events while he chatted on and on with someone else who wanted to get some hens. Suddenly they mustered a great squawking and struggle and Mr. Chicken Man had to tell the person on the line, “Ouai, j’ai des poules dans la main.” Yeah, I’ve got some chickens in my hand.


(I surreptitiously took a photo.)

We brought them home in Bella’s doggy crate and put them in their new home. Since there are six, we each got to christen one. (Mine is called Heidi since she is a Swiss hen.) They seemed rather stunned by the light and air for a bit and afraid to go outside. Soon enough however, their curiosity overcame their fear and they were exploring and pecking about the yard in a fine chickeny way. And to my delight, going in and out of their sweet little door. It’s all just so perfect. They have pretty much gone to chicken paradise.

The whole thing made me feel philosophical. Out of all the hundreds that the Chicken Man had, why these six? Why did he fish out these particular six? While the rest of them would continue to live out their lives in dark smelly confusion or else become someone’s chicken dinner, these six were chosen to come live a life of rapturous natural chickeness: pecking in the morning, sun bath in the afternoon, more pecking, lay an egg, little more pecking and then roosting. I am willing to bet that they were no better or worse than the other chickens. There were plenty of other black, white and brown ones running around there.

It seems to me that there is a deep metaphor there, but I am afraid that I might mess it up. The Chicken Man is not God and as far as I know, the chickens did not get themselves into the smelly room through their own sin, but in clumsy metaphor lies the truth that God does choose some people to draw to Himself, into His glorious light while others remain in darkness and confusion. I have no more intrinsic merit than one brown chicken had more than the next brown chicken.  Yet, here I am, given the gift of His grace and a beautiful new home in His love and care, pecking and sunbathing away while He watches over me and gives me everything I need. Why He does that I cannot say. He has His reasons, and I have to learn to trust Him and let my heart dwell on the gratitude I have to be here. Perhaps the Chicken Man had his reasons too, that I couldn’t see, why this hen and not that one. A mystery.

In the meantime, I am very pleased to have hens about again. Something so domesticated about them. And we’re enjoying the fresh eggs! I dislike waste, and one reason I love chickens is that they are marvelous recyclers: they take our old bread and carrot peels and turn them into fresh eggs. Which reminds me that it’s time to take them this morning’s leftover oatmeal.

IMG_1936  Discovering their new home.


Hermes with hens and little roosting spot inside the coop.


Trying out the new door and exploring the outside world for the first time.

IMG_1963 What is that? I think I’ll eat it!IMG_2007  How I love the look of a chicken in the grass.


chicken heaven (with my $10 thrift store bench for chicken gazing)


please, oh please, just one little nibble?IMG_1932

chicken gazing, much better than television


I am a country girl at heart ~ this sight make me very happy. garden boxes, laundry drying on the line and chickens. sigh.


  1. "chicken gazing, much better than television" Hear! Hear!

  2. That sight makes me very happy too. My garden is ready to plant now, right next to my clothesline, and I'm excited. And, I don't think I've ever shared my name with a chicken before.

  3. Heidi, when I named her I thought of you and hoped you wouldn't mind! She's a very beautiful chicken.