Tag Archives: hens

The Curious Case of the Panting Chicken

Finally a beautiful day.  No rain, no fog, no clouds, no wind.  Just a beautiful, sunny 70 degree, blue-sky day.  We took this opportunity, Thing Two and I, to wander around the yard and check on things.

Lawn?  Check, green and growing quickly after all this rain.  Garden?  Check, plants don’t appear to be rotting, and some seeds are coming up.  Chickens?  Check, happily in their tractor, hunting and scratc…wait a minute…that one chicken is panting.  It’s Chiffon.

I remember last summer, on some really hot days, the chickens would sometimes do their open-beaked pant when they were overheated.  But it isn’t really that warm today, and I have the tractor somewhat in the shade.

Maybe she is thirsty?  Nope, plenty of water.  Are the other chickens panting?  Nope, just the one.  Huh.  I began to get a little worried.  Chickens, so I read, can be particularly susceptible to respiratory problems.  I took a closer look at this wide-eyed panting chicken and I heard “hee hee hee…shhhhhh….hee hee hee…shhhhhh”.  Then I knew what was troubling this hen.

I opened the tractor, and Chiffon muscled her way past the other hens and made a bee-line for the coop, only stopping a couple of times to peck at something that must have been irresistible.

She hopped up into the coop, and hopped straight into the nest box.  Poor Chiffon was in labor, and she wasn’t about to drop her egg the in ramshackle nest box I rigged up in the tractor.

Just because chickens aren’t the brightest animal in the yard doesn’t mean they aren’t discerning.  Remember your breathing, Chiffon and focus!  You can doo eet!


Springtime Arrives!

Finally, after a winter where the depth of snowstorms was sometimes measured in cats…

and the weather conditions made even the most usual chores a challenge.

Where the decision to run out for a quart of milk sometimes required a little extra effort…

We are beginning to see signs of spring!

Despite our inattention, the rhubarb abides.

The daffodils remind us of the work we did in the fall…

while the side garden sits fallow, a reminder of work to come.

But for now, the work will wait.  These early spring afternoons are meant for sunning at the beach…

and treasure hunting on the rocks.

We are enjoying our time to free-range

after a winter of being cooped-up.

Spring has finally arrived at Casa de Pollo Loco.

Chilly Morning at Casa de Pollo

With an overnight low of just 5 degrees, it is certain that the hens’ water has frozen.  I have easily fallen into a morning routine, this first winter of keeping hens.   I hop onto the frosty deck, still barefoot, and grab yesterday’s waterer.  We keep two waterers, one in use in the coop while the other waits, literally, on deck.

I bring the plastic waterer inside and start thawing it in the sink by running hot water over it.  I enjoy watching the patterns that form as the ice melts and always think how pretty the ice looks, so wet and clear.

I refill the waterer, grab the chicken bowl and head out to the coop.  Depending on the temperature, I am sometimes accompanied by the cat.  This morning it is just too cold.

The hens hear me coming and start their low bawkkkk bawkkkk calls that almost sound to me like growls.  Maybe purrs would be a better word, I think they are happy realizing they are about to be let out into the run.

The morning frost has frozen the latches shut, so I have to briefly hold them in my hands to get them to open.  They are so cold they burn a bit.  The hens are getting impatient.  Finally, I can open the door, and our four big, pretty hens are waiting.  I’m not sure if hens can be Rubenesque, but with their pretty cream and buff coloring and their full-figures, I think they fit the bill.

I dump the chicken bowl into the shavings in the coop, and switch the iced waterer for the new one while the hens fight over the grapes.  The contents of the chicken bowl reflect the cast-offs of the previous day.  The rejected toast and sandwich crusts, Life cereal, wrinkly grapes, small bits of American cheese and Annie’s Mac and Cheese rejected yesterday are gladly gobbled by the hens.

I close and latch the coop door, and open the pop door into the run.  Usually the hens immediately run out, but this morning the scraps are too good to leave.  I open up the small galvanized can that holds the black oiled sunflower seeds and the sound of the small scoop running through the seeds calls the hens into the run.

I sprinkle out their morning treat, and then check the nest box for eggs.  None yet today.  Winter has slowed their egg production to only one or two per day, but it is still enough for us.

I am grateful for our hens.  Not just for their amazing parlor trick of producing eggs from our garbage,  but because they force me to go out every winter morning, at least for a few minutes, and experience the crisp and quiet cold.