Chicken Duty

sketch of chickens

“Chicken Duty”, mixed media by Kerry McFall

I’ve been taking care of chickens for the last couple of weeks, and I’ve learned several things:

  • Chickens are smarter than you think.  How hard can it be to get three chickens into their coop in a tiny, fenced backyard?  Plenty hard.  It’s like getting two-year-old triplets to bed – you just get two into bed and the third one bolts (I babysat for triplets once).  By the time you catch that one, the other two have disappeared…  The only solution seems to be luring them with dried mealworms — for hens that is, not kids.  Just give up with the kids, turn on a Disney video, and eventually their parents come home and it’s their problem!
  • Chickens enjoy hide and seek in the dark.  However, you always have to be It, and the concepts of the woodpile being “out of bounds” or the game being over escapes them.  They also do not function well in the presence of flashlights.  Flashlights shut down their brains and cause their bones to completely dissolve, which admittedly does make them easier to catch.  Thus did Colonel Sanders discover Boneless Chicken?
  • It’s not a good idea to walk around in Chicken Territory wearing flipflops.  Especially in the dark.  This is because chickens are related to dinosaurs, and chicken poop is roughly the same size as T. Rex poop.  Eeww.
  • Fresh eggs are magical.  They are luminescent, warm, perfectly shaped.  I almost feel guilty about eating them, but not quite.
  • Chickens purr.  Seriously.  If you just sit in a lawnchair and listen while they prowl and poke around in the grass, they make this low throaty purring sound.  They do!  However, chickens are way more trouble than cats, and you probably wouldn’t want one sitting in your lap for very long.  It’s those dinosaur genetics again.
  • Chickens are fun to draw.  Feathers are miracles of engineering and pattern and color.  Combs and wattles are hysterical – just touch one and try not to laugh!

I love backyard chickens.  I love the way they brag when they lay an egg.  However, I’m pretty sure I am over wanting to raise my own backyard chickens.  I’ll just be content to take care of my neighbor’s chickens.  My husband heartily endorses this conclusion!



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