Category Archives: Life Lessons

Lesson 1261 – Update on Zelda (hen to rooster to hen)

Last fall, I wrote about Zelda, our alpha hen who had turned from being a hen, into being a rooster, and then back into a hen – all with different colorings (and yes we know it’s Zelda because of her metal leg identifier and her distinctive “bubble gum” comb.)

If you are around chicken owners for even a little bit of time eventually you will hear stories of hens “turning” into roosters. There are various reasons this can happen. If a flock is roosterless (as ours is) then the alpha hen can actually start to throw off more testosterone and will begin to display more male characteristics. Typically she’ll become more aggressive as she takes the role of protector and will stop laying eggs.

This can also happen if there is an injury of some kind to the reproductive organs, for example there can be a tumor that stops normal hormone production.

So you see, it’s not *that* uncommon for a hen to become a rooster. What is uncommon, however, is for that “rooster” to revert back to a hen and that’s what happened last fall.

Zelda turned from a golden speckled rooster into a white hen with a splash of her original grey on the bottom of her wing.

I contacted a vet who I use as an expert in some of my chicken articles to ask her about Zelda. She confirmed that hen to rooster had been seen, but that hen to rooster and then back to hen was not something that she had ever even heard about.

To be fair though, Zelda is about 7 years old. Most backyard chickens don’t make it to that ripe old age which might cut down on the chances of seeing this happen. The only way to truly find out what is going on would be to do an autopsy and, as Zelda is still alive and well, we’re going to hold off on that option.

In any event, we ended the conversation with the vet saying, she couldn’t wait to see what Zelda was going to do next.

Well, I have an update and here it is.

Zelda Spring 2015

Zelda Spring 2015

Zelda did nothing.

She remains a white female with her grey splash. It looks like Zelda’s grand transgender adventure is over and she is destined to live the rest of her days in our flock as a hen. (At least for now, anyway.)

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Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.


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Filed under Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Chicks, Holidays, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Personal, Quotable Chicks, The Family

Lesson 1257 – A little bit of love via alchemy

Like most other mama hens, I am the cook of the house. Even though I have a full time job(s) and volunteer in various organizations, it is I who makes sure the family eats good nutritious food and that we all sit down together to partake of our meals. Week after week.

Like an alchemist, every time I go to my kitchen, I’m always able to create something new from the ingredients I have on hand. This is powerful magic and I don’t take my role as food preparer lightly.

A large part of that job involves presentation of the final product. If the food doesn’t look good, it’s not going to be eaten (can we ever forget my failed-cowboy stew?)

On Saturday, in a thrift shop, I found a large, flowered, heavy baking dish. When I picked it up, the heft in my hands was solid. This dish was clearly a force to be reckoned with in anyone’s kitchen.

I turned the dish over and read that it had been made in France. Well made, a back story, and stunning. ‘nuff said.

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I knew it was destined to be mine.

I brought the dish into my house and set it on the dining room table. For a day I kept looking at it. Tell me what it is you want me to do.

It wasn’t until I went food shopping on Sunday that I finally heard what the dish was saying.

Strawberries. Lovely deep red strawberries.

I usually never make dessert. My feeling is that if the dinner is good enough, you don’t need to eat anything afterward. I also tend to make Sunday dinners the biggest meal of the week. It’s a way for us to get sustained and catch our breath before we dive back into the work/school week. Dessert on a Sunday usually only happens if we have a birthday and then there is cake.

Everyone was at dinner and as we sat at our porch table, we ate grilled salmon, shredded Brussel sprouts, corn on the cob, salad, and ancient grain bread with butter while we told stories of what had happened in our lives over the weekend. New drones, a musical fundraiser, baking brownies for a bake sale, and a new computer system. Continue reading

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Lesson 1230 – And you thought the Wicked Witch was scary

Saturday I was drawn to the window by the constant crying of a small bird. Much like when you’re a mother and a baby cries, when you own chickens, you can always pick put a cry of distress.

I followed the noise to the kitchen window and I saw a smallish-brown-with-horizontal-stripes bird tearing away at a (poor little) blue jay. Absolutely ripping and tearing – that bird was vicious.

As the jay was still faintly crying out, I tried to go out back to “shoo” away the invader, but as soon as I opened the door, the bird took the jay in its feet and flew deeper into the woods. A vicious little bird with lots of strength.

What on earth had that been? Continue reading

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Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Chicken fun, Life Lessons, Mama Hen, Personal, Teaching kids, The Family

Lesson 1229 – Guess what?

Guess what?

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Chicken Snow Butt.

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Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.

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Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Chicken fun, Life Lessons, Mama Hen, Personal, Teaching kids, The Family

Lesson 1227 – Clever Norwegians

When you raise chickens, you get chicken things.

A friend (hi Cinda) recently sent over this little guy. It is a boiled (felted) wool chicken designed to hold a box of wine as a gift. You open the buttons in the back, insert the wine and voila, instant gift. Apparently this adorable chick was handmade by a woman in Norway.

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I don’t have many boxes of wine lying around, but I have discovered that if you roll up a tee shirt – preferably an old one (or two) with a few holes and tears that you’ve been trying for ages to get away from your college-aged son- and insert it into the chicken, you get a lovely non-alcoholic couch buddy.

And who wouldn’t want that? Continue reading

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Lesson 1226 – Here comes the sun

DSC09179 (Modified)

This weekend we let the chickens out. There wasn’t much space for them to walk around (the snow is still quite high in our backyard and the only real walking area is the shoveled path to the hen house), but they took full advantage of the tiny bit of freedom and change of scenery.

Once the girls got outside, they stretched their legs and pecked at the grain around the coop that had frozen long ago into the ice. They clucked, they spread their wings, and they turned their faces to the sun.

By evening, the entire flock was happy to go back inside the coop to roost – worn out by the exercise and ready for a rest. Continue reading

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Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Chicken fun, Life Lessons, Mama Hen, Personal, Teaching kids, The Family

Lesson 1225 – Sad Mrs. Sam Sack

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This week has been interesting… and busy (did you miss me?)

I’m teaching my two writing classes at the college, preparing for spring chicken workshops, getting out articles, reviewing a book, all while I hold the home fort down.

I’m also doing a 10-day medical cleanse suggested by my Lyme doc to “detoxify” (it consists of a very limited diet – fruit, veggies, fish and beans – while taking vitamin and nutrient supplements.) I’m on day 7 of 10 and while it’s not difficult, it does include planning. Continue reading

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Filed under Life Lessons, Personal, Teaching kids, The Family