Lesson 547 – Notes from a chicken workshop

My new official chicken workshop bag.

Last night I gave my Chicken 102 workshop. Here are some notes on the experience:

  • Even though I came prepared with a cone, even though I talked about how to humanely kill a chicken using a cone, every time I mentioned the act, I stumbled over the word. Stumbled, as in fell flat on my face, couldn’t even say the right word. Kill, dispose of, cone? Finally a man in the audience came to my rescue and like a parent gently leading a child to the coffin, told me that the word was “harvest.”

    Harvest. It’s a good word. The end of a successful season, the fruition of your labors. Something that is appreciated.

    It’s a good word.

  • That young family was there (with the lava lamp girl) and this time, after I had answered the question “what is the smallest flock you should have and what is the largest” (smallest is 3 birds, largest depends on your space and resources) she asked me, if chickens are flock animals, and if I had a chicken living in my house, then wasn’t that chicken lonely?

   Good question.

    I told her that this was a clear case of do as I say and not as I do. Charlie has flock members (she’s sitting next to me right now as I write this) but they are just birds of a different feather. Charlie is a unique situation and as much as we love her in the house, I’ve got to go on the record as saying that I don’t recommend that people start raising chickens in the house.

  • Apparently Guinea hens are not stupid.

 Many times, I have heard about how stupid Guinea hens are. They won’t come back to the hen house, they can’t find their way home, they don’t know how to get down from a tree. (fyi, I’ve heard the same things about domesticated turkeys.) One couple mentioned the Guinea hen they had who was noisy, funny looking, but not at all stupid. Their hen came in at night to roost and managed to be an effective watch dog during the day sounding the alarm whenever any thing or any one came into the yard. (Just as a note, this hen is a male, his female counterpart was killed.)

  Who knew?

  • This time I didn’t leave a picture of a chicken’s internal organs on the board for the Spanish teacher to find the next day. Instead I left it in yellow pastel for the meeting organizer to wash off her portable chalkboard (although there was a short discussion about how if left untouched, it would certainly be a conversation starter.)
  • Someone in Concord knows how to make some of the best brownies I have ever tasted.

Go forth and enjoy your chickens, Concord.



Filed under chicken care, Personal, Resources

12 responses to “Lesson 547 – Notes from a chicken workshop

  1. Stephan

    Wendy: also nice articla on the Nashua Telegraph today (not sure if you know the reporter) about the growth of backyard chickens and the recent Concord, NH variance on chickens.

    • Wendy Thomas


      Thanks for the heads up on the article. Chickens are becoming very trendy indeed!


  2. Very nice evening Wendy, Pat and I were quite glad to attend your workshop.

  3. It sounds like another success. Well done. It doesn’t sound to me like Charlie is suffering from loneliness just yet. It’s no different from having a dog who thinks your family is its pack.

  4. Wendy we just moved to NH from the bay area. Can you tell me when your next classes might be?

    The kids and I want to get chickens and I am deciding whther I should.

    • Wendy Thomas

      If you had come to my workshops, you’d have already made up your mind to get them 🙂

      As long as they are allowed in your town (check at Town Hall *first*) then I think everyone should have a few chickens (hens) in their backyard. Once you set them up, they are very little work and they give you eggs, meat (if you eat them), company, and constant entertainment. (and they make you breakfast everyday)


  5. Wendy we are in Chester. The house’s previous owner had 40 chickens. She also had 2 horses, 4 dogs and 3 goats. We have a huge barn and underneath the barn ii think the owner had a chicken run and coop. Its all broken down right now and my spouse would need to do some leg work. We also have 2 acres of land. 🙂 this house feels like a mansion to me after my Bay area apt.:)

    My son’s after school daycare has 60 chickens and she has this whole incubator setup and the little chicks and ducklings.. She has been keeping the chicks and ducks for over 10 years now.She is offering us 10 chicks to start off with. Americana and bantam (I think)

    I have 4 kids, oldest is 13 and youngest is 5.5 yrs old. Do you think they would clean the chicken poop.

    • Wendy Thomas

      How exciting! You are in a perfect position to start up with chickens.

      A few thoughts, even though you have 2 acres, you need to figure out if you want (or can) have roosters or not. Roosters crow, they crow a lot and many times your neighbors will not take to that kindly. If you are getting chicks from an incubator then you are getting chicks from a straight run which means you’ll have a mix of boys and girls. This may not be a problem (especially if you plan on harvesting your chickens for meat – not something I do but I fully support those who do) but it *may* be a problem if you don’t or can’t have the boys.

      Once your hen house is set up (and secure from predators) then care for your chickens in minimal. Our kids help with the chicken care all the time, from letting them loose in the morning, to refilling the food and water, and putting them back at night. They also help collect the eggs (as well as eat them) and on sunny days, herd the chickens into a fenced-in area for exercise.

      Lastly, although my husband is the one who usually mucks out the hen house, the kids are always there to take the wheelbarrow out back to the compost pile.

      So short answer is yes, not only will your kids be able to help but I’ll bet they will love helping out with the chicks.

      Good luck, let me know how things turn out.


  6. Thanks for reporting on Luigi, our surprising intelligent guinea. He can indeed find his own way home, as he and Juliet (the late and much-lamented guinea girl) once followed some of our local wild turkeys up the hill for the afternoon. Our hens had the sense to stop at the edge of the road, but the guineas were more adventurous. The turkey flock tends to roost on the top of the next hill, wooded property owned by our across-the-street neighbors.
    My husband, not quite believing they would come back, tried to herd them back to our property, but, while guineas aren’t stupid, they can out-stubborn Alan, even when he’s madly shaking a coffee-can full of treats. I only wish I’d shot some video.
    Evening fell, and – voila! there they were, back in the hen house, roosting peaceably. And now we know why the guineas crossed the road… 😉

  7. Love that Layena bag-very cute!

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