Separation Anxiety


I have eleven chickens living in my house.

If you had told me a few years ago that I would have eleven chickens living in my house, I would not have believed it. I can assure you that at no time during the course of my childhood did chickens live in our house or even near it. My only experience with chickens was when I visited my grandmother on my mother’s side. She lived in a small town in Oklahoma (Frederick), but she had lived most of her life on a farm on the dusty Plains not far outside Frederick, where my mother grew up. My mother, like my father who could not get out of the West Virginia hollers fast enough, could barely wait to shake off the rural dustbowl of her childhood. (They certainly had something in common when they got married!) They went off to live ever after and raise their children in clean-cut, luxurious suburbia outside large cities from D.C. to Los Angeles to Dallas/Fort Worth, happily eschewing their country hardships and salt-cured hams.

But like my father took me to visit his West Virginia roots, my mother took me to Oklahoma. The fact that once I was at that turning point in my life where I chose to come to West Virginia, I chose it over Oklahoma, might have something to do with the flat, dusty, wide-open nothingness of those Oklahoma Plains, but I was just as baffled by life there as I was sometimes by what I saw when we visited West Virginia. My grandmother in Frederick lived in an old, tiny house, but she had a big screened-in back porch where she kept a bed. As in, a real bed, with a mattress and everything. If this wasn’t enough to blow my little suburban mind in which beds did not invade the perfectly manicured back patios (nothing but a barbeque dare do that), she had chickens.

And sometimes, in the afternoon, she would go outside and get dinner. I peered outside the windows of her little tiny house and could not believe what she did to those chickens.

She didn’t name them or treat them as pets or let them live in her house. Unless living in her house included their after-life in her frying pan.

I was always a little bit scared of my Oklahoma grandmother. She had some cajones I had no ability to grasp.

She also made me hand-sewn doll babies and she called me “Sue-Anne” (because she couldn’t pronounce that bizarre Frenchified “Suzanne” that my so-citified mother named me) and she always told me that I had pretty legs. My Oklahoma grandmother was upfront that way. She said whatever she was thinking, even if it was weird. I figure life on the farm in the dusty Plains where you could be blown away by a tornado any moment was pretty plain that way.

I guess I’ll never be as tough as either my Oklahoma grandmother or my West Virginia one–because I’m sure she broke some chicken necks in her day, too. But like my chicken lady who gave me my eggs said to me, “Once I’ve held them, petted them, listened to them sing to me, I can’t eat them.”

Me, I’m having a hard time just letting them go outside. They’re roosting in my office and sometimes I think they are plotting a coup and planning a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. But it’s time. I need to send my babies to kindergarten, or at least the chicken house.

I’m scared to let go!


  1. Kathleen in MI says:

    My mother and her sister used to tell us about their mother killing chickens. They lived in Detroit so they were not raising the chickens, but their mom would buy a live chicken and chop off its head. Yuk!

    They used to tell this story over a nice chicken dinner. Myself, I would be a vegetarian before I would butcher my own meat.

  2. Carolyn says:

    Awwww! You are just the sweetest chicken mama. Don’t want to let your babies go out into the big scary world. It’s ok to let them go, they need to stretch their feathers and see the big blue sky. xxoo

  3. Kacey says:

    I can’t believe how big they are getting! Yes, I’d say it’s about time for the chicken house!

  4. jane says:

    I could feel the emotion – tears. I hope the chicken house is secure against critters out there who could eat them. At least the house is close by. Can the cats get in? One time I had a cat who brought a live bird in the hosue and thought nothing of it. My dog tried to bring a dead rat into the house – her pride prize and joy until I told her to put it down. with reluctance she dropped it in the yard. i cant wait for the eggs and what you will bake with them.

  5. Ann from Montana says:

    Wow, they are getting big…seems like they just exited their eggs!

    I bet they will love that lovely house you built for them though. And what fun to go out in the morning and visit and collect the eggs.

    Easy for me to say 🙂 – I never had “raised” chicks….

  6. Noble Pig says:

    They turn into chickens so fast!! You must let them go forth and scratch the ground!

  7. Claudia W says:

    They are going to love being chickens out in that wonderful chicken house you built for them. They get to scratch in the dirt and peck around and explore their world. My Rhodie was always happy to go outside in the mornings and see what the world was doing out there. She just liked coming back in at night to sleep withthe dogs!

  8. Treasia says:

    They are really growing so fast. Time to let them venture outside of the house and into the great outdoors chicken coop.

  9. Liz says:

    Iknow, Iknow…I have quail in my office. I hatched them all, :heart: however some are boys 😥 … but they are my boys; so even though they are, as my mother would say, neither use nor ornament they are my boys, I saw them hatch and I’ve watched them grow… so I’ve just built a new pen to keep the boys in… They’ll never lay eggs and I can’t bear to eat them, no-one will buy them… but they make lots of noise if anyone walks past so I may have the very first ‘quard quail’ known to mankind…

    Love your hen stories… They’ll be fine outside and just wait until you see them doing the scratchy hen thing out there – you’ll be so proud of your growed up hens! :heart:

  10. Tori Lennox says:

    Who knew chickens went through that gangly, gawky teenager phase just like kids! :rotfl:

  11. Jeannie in OKC says:

    Hey, my husband grew up on a farm near Frederick, and my inlaws moved into Frederick when they got older. I still have a brother-in-law and family there. So I know that dusty little town quite well!

    We live in Oklahoma City and I’m definitely a city girl, but I do love the “nothingness” of the plains. I love the wide open spaces and being able to see miles in any direction.

    When my daughter got ready to go to college, she considered Duke in North Carolina, but after she visited there, she wasn’t sure she could manage to live in the middle of all the trees. It made her nervous not to be able to see what was all around her.

    Geography definitely makes us who we are.

  12. Jeanette Fields says:

    Chicks and chickens are still a joy, even though the reality is the responsibility of their health and welfare which can be painful at times. Here is a post of one such time;

    I am sure you would have the “cajones” too if the time arose…. after all you are now a farm gal! And we are a tough breed.
    Blessings, Jeanette

  13. Kim A. says:

    They’ve grown so quickly!

    Uh, I would think the smell of chicken poop would be motivation enough to get them out of your house.

    Most of us are pretty far removed from our sources of food today, which really isn’t a good thing, IMO. Particularly considering how animals and birds are raised, how they are killed, and the conditions in which slaughter-house people work. That said, the only way I could kill an animal or bird to eat would be if I were literally starving and it was life and death. And frankly, maybe not even then. Which makes me a hypocrite, since I do eat meat and poultry.


  14. Susan says:

    The chicks are to cute to put out in the chicken house!

  15. Jodie says:

    My grandmother and grandfather kept chickens in “town” in the 60s & 70s. Grandma used to talk about how to wring a chicken’s neck and I’m sure she did, but I never saw it. Watching chicken fry in the pan was bad enough when I was old enough to cook. But I would loooove to have fresh eggs just outside my door.

  16. rebecca says:

    My Grandma tells me about her family raising chickens. During the depression, it was the way to go — they had chickens all over the yard. When I told her I didn’t know how a person could kill something they raised she said, “Well, you’ve never had to live with them nasty old birds!!!” Apparently, my Great Grandma didn’t relish the chore and let her husband do the dirty work until a mean old rooster attacked her one time too many. They say she grabbed the bird and wrung its neck right then and there, and had no problem with it.

    Me… I’ll take my neat little filets on a styrofoam tray anytime. I think if I had to raise and kill my own poultry, I would go veg really quick. I could raise them no problem, but …

  17. catslady says:

    Wow they really did get big fast and so pretty. I’d hate to see them go too 😥 If I wasn’t so lazy to try and come up with recipes, I’d be a vegetarian – but it’s so easy to go to the store and buy something that doesn’t resemble the real thing and throw it on the grill :mrgreen:

  18. Mental P Mama says:

    Well, if the chicken house is safe, then I guess it’s okay. I just want them to be safe. :chicken: :chicken:

  19. Callie Randall says:

    Wow. My family grew up in Frederick. My great-grandparents settled there and (for some crazy reason) we all stayed. Do you mind me asking what your grandmother’s name is? What a small world! My husband grew up in Chattanooga, a smaller town about 30 min from Frederick.

  20. Suzanne McMinn says:

    Hi, Callie! My grandmother’s name was Katie Prescott.

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