I love my chickens! My life would be an empty shell without my chickens. Okay, that sounds a little extreme, but let me just say that I can’t imagine not having chickens ever again. Chickens are an ever-present delight and a constant source of entertainment. They require relatively little care yet deliver daily in the form of their wonderful eggs (if you can find them). They care nothing about you, but are completely fascinated with you at the same time. I can’t walk across the yard without a pack of chickens around my feet.
If I dropped dead tomorrow, they wouldn’t care, however, as long as someone else showed up with cracked corn. I like to think that is part of their charm.
Of course, I have complete control of my chickens.
I’m going to tell you something that may shock you–I have no idea how many chickens I have.
Something around 50. Probably. Why don’t I know how many chickens I have? I lost count a long time ago. I also free-range my chickens, which means there are mysterious losses–some of which I can account for, and some I can’t. Sometimes chickens just go missing. Sometimes I don’t even know that they went missing.
And that’s because (brace yourself!) my chickens aren’t all named.
I have heard of people that name every single one of their chickens. I’m thinking either their chickens must all be a different breed or else they are far more exacting than I am with their memories. Some of my chickens just look alike. This is particularly true of my purebred chickens. I also have a number of mixed breed chickens, ones I’ve hatched out myself in the incubator, and those are much more easy to differentiate because each mixed breed chicken has a more unique appearance.
I love every single one of my chickens, but I can’t always tell them apart. Free-ranging is also a mixed bag, because it exposes the chickens to some risk, but overall I am a fan of free-ranging and will always do it. A chicken who free ranges is a healthier chicken (in my opinion) and a happier chicken. On the other hand, I also understand that not everyone is in the position to free-range. It depends on many factors whether or not this is a viable option, but for us, in our 40-acre farm in the middle of nowhere, it works well. We lose very few chickens to predators (knock on wood) and many of them even roost out at night. Some like to come back to the chicken house, some don’t. The ones that don’t will roost on the goat pen gates, and I believe the presence of other, larger, animals acts as a form of protection for them as we lose very few.
Some chickens do reach out and grab my attention, making themselves known in a unique way. Those chickens do end up named and I become extra attached to them (which is occasionally heartbreaking).
A few of the chickens I’ve loved and lost include my dear, sweet little banty hen who only wanted to be a mother.
The Funky Chicken disappeared soon after being released to free-range. (The most dangerous period of time for a chicken is in the days following their release as they learn the ropes of the free-range life.)
I really liked her, so that was upsetting.
And then there was the irreplaceable, the frightening, the love-to-hate-him Mean Rooster.
I still miss him and can’t believe he’s gone. Or believe I was so attached to a rooster that frequently tried to kill me.
Sometimes they like to stretch out on the grass and pretend they’re dead. They just do that to annoy me.
Then there’s the Crooked Little Hen…..
….who continues to breeze through life like the beauty queen she is.
And her boyfriend, Mr. Hyde.
Crooked and her Mister are both doing well. Mister is mostly on his own these days as Crooked is sitting on a nest in the goat pen. (We’ll see what comes of that! I’ve yet to have a hen sit on a successful nest.)
A nestful of crooked little blue eggs.
Spartacus, my little banty rooster, was one of my first chickens to really steal the show with his personality.
“Prepare to die.” He’s still around, and still wishing I’d get some more banties so he’d have somebody his own size.
And then there’s Lucky, who was actually my very first chicken. She was the miracle chick who hatched out of a batch in the incubator that was accidentally overheated. She’s a cheerful hen and a good layer.
She’s the unassuming queen of the chickens.
And a little bit….scraggly.
I think she’s been letting herself go since Mean Rooster died.
One of the most frequently asked questions around here is–why is this website called Chickens in the Road? Especially since our house is so far away from the road, our chickens are never in the road. Back when I was driving around looking at property and fantasizing about having my own farm, I was out on some little country back road. One of those narrow one-lane roads dotted with farms, tangled up in woods interspersed with meadows and falling-down barns, homes few and far between. The kind of place where you come across chickens in the road–and it’s actually quite safe, because the road is so far out from nowhere. It is that country. I said, “I want to live some place where I can have chickens in the road.”
To me, “chickens in the road” symbolizes a lot of things that I wanted to create in my life, not simply the literal meaning. (Chickens don’t really wander very far–my chickens have been, on occasion, as far as down to the bottom of our driveway, but I’ve never seen them go any further.) Chickens in the road, in my mind, is a lifestyle. One of these days, I may talk my chickens into taking a stroll in the road while I take pictures. You know, if I can get them to cooperate.
But don’t count on it.
I did a post here about the basics of keeping chickens if you’re thinking about starting your own flock.
See the archive of all my chicken posts here.
See all my posts in the “Cast of” series here.