Tag Archives: chicken flock

Lesson 1277 – Story Time

It’s story telling time.

This afternoon I’ve been invited to hold a chicken workshop for a senior adult education program. Usually when I hold my chicken workshops they come in two parts.

Part 1 – from chick to coop

Part 2 – from coop to cull

I’m not sure that this crew is really interested in raising chickens as much as they are interested in hearing about chickens.

Continue reading



Filed under All things chickens, Chicks, Mama Hen, members of the flock, New Hampshire, Personal

Lesson 1276 – Hello friend

There has *never* been a morning at the coop when the entire flock hasn’t been overjoyed to see the beginning of a new day. All I have to do is open the door, say hello, and they explode from inside, ready to see what adventures the day will bring.


Hello friend sun, glad to see you again.

It’s such a great way to live your life. To wake up with daily excitement at finding out what surprises hide around each corner. Grubs? Cracked corn? A new addition to the flock? Company with someone goes out to read in the backyard?

So many possibilities. Continue reading

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Filed under All things chickens, chicken care, Chicks, Mama Hen, members of the flock, New Hampshire, Personal

Lesson 553 – The rooster in Cincinnati

We’re here in Cincinnati and although I haven’t found a chicken yet, I have found a reason for what I do.

After Trevor had his 2 hour gymnastics practice session this morning, we went to an outdoor square in order to have a pastry and a (long) overdue cup of coffee. As we were sitting at our table, we heard a little boy call out “A rooster! A rooster, mommy!”

Trevor and I both looked at each other in that “No, way, there’s a rooster here??!!” way. I mean what are the odds, that we would go five states away from New Hampshire only to find a male chicken in our midst?

We excitedly looked around, ready to pay homage and respect to the rooster in Cincinnati.

What we found instead was this:

That is what the little boy called a rooster.

And that is why I do what I do. I write about chickens because people have lost their connection to their food and the animals that supply that food. People don’t remember that food needs to be grown and animals that provide our food need to be cared for. We’re all in this together.

They don’t know that we can learn so many lessons from living with our food and taking care of it.

And as long as little kids think that pigeons are roosters in Cincinnati, I think I may still have a very good reason to do my job.


Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, In the News, Life Lessons, Personal, The kids

Lesson 552 – Leaving on a Jet Plane

I’m in a bit of a rush this morning (and yeah, I should probably queue up my posts but where’s the fun and spontaneity in that?) Trevor and I are flying out to Cincinnati in just a few hours for his gymnastics meet. We’ll be there until Sunday (Mother’s Day!)

I have everything we need (including Tupperware to take food back to the hotel – the boy can eat.) I even have my travel books. When I go on long trips, I like to take a bunch of those books that I gave up on about half-way through. Being stuck in an airport and then on a plane makes even a somewhat boring book start to look appealing again.

I finish all those half read books and then leave them along the way with a sticky that says “Please Read Me” for others to find. My own version of a bread crumb trail from home.

I should have internet access but it will be sporadic. Please be patient with posts, they will get up (and trust me, if there is something, anything to do with a chicken in Cincinnati, I’ll find it and will report back.)

For now, I leave you with a chicken who thinks she is a puppy.

And a newly shaven puppy who thinks he is a rat. Continue reading


Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, In the News, Life Lessons, Personal, The kids

Lesson 551 – Chicks with chicks

I write regularly for Parenting New Hampshire magazine. Not only do I contribute articles, but I also have a monthly column on Family Finances (how to be thrifty – something that with 6 kids, I feel I’m qualified to talk about.)

Anyway, because of a retrospective article I had written about a cover shoot my kids were on 11 years ago, the editor had asked me if I could pose with a few of my kids for a new cover. Sure, I said, how about chicks with chicks.

I’m not sure she realized that when I said this I really meant chicks, with chicks, with chicks (kind of like Chicken-inception) but she was a good sport about it and when she and the photographer showed up, the girls and I grabbed some chickens and got ready for our close-ups. The end product turned out just fine and the girls and I are pleased as punch to be sharing the world of chickens once again.

The online copy of the magazine is here.  I have 3 articles in this issue (it just worked out that way) if you want to take a look. Continue reading


Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, In the News, Life Lessons, Personal, Roosters

Lesson 549 – The joy of chicken stories

People who have chickens are people who have stories.

Seriously, if you know anyone who has chickens, take them out for a cup of coffee and just start off with the question – “What’s one of the most memorable things your chickens have done?”

Oh, the stories this little guy could tell.

That’s it. That’s all it takes. You wont’ be sorry. (By the way, we also make great party guests.)

Some of the favorite chickens stories I’ve heard from others involve roosters. When roosters are young they can be docile, often misleading you into believing that they will not become the devilish roosters of other people’s stories.

Not true.

When roosters mature he becomes mean. It’s his job, it’s how he protects the flock.

One woman once told me that her parents had chickens and there was one rooster in particular who was very aggressive. Every afternoon, he’d know when it was time for her to come home from school and he’d be ready at the bus stop to attack her. Every. Single. Day.

She told me that for much of her childhood, every afternoon became a life or death race from the school bus to the front door trying to outrun that killer rooster in order to reach the safety of the house.

It probably would have been easier to get rid of the rooster but chicken owners tend to live and let live. An aggressive rooster? Not his fault, that’s how he was meant to be. Just make sure you know how to run.

And besides, if her parents had gotten rid of the rooster, she’d never have that wonderful story.

Last night I met a gentleman who used to have chickens on his property in town. He told me that in the wintertime, it was his young daughter’s responsibility to go out and gather the eggs.

One morning, she collected the eggs and not having any place to out them, she gently placed them in her warm pockets. Continue reading

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Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, Life Lessons, Personal, Roosters

Lesson 548 – Egg Washing 101

During my chicken workshops I cover how to wash eggs. It’s not really a complicated subject but you might be surprised at how many people are concerned about bacteria on eggs (especially with that big Salmonella scare last year) and want to know specifically how to clean them.

I get it, I get it. Eggs come out where??? Poop is gross. Poops on eggs is even more gross. But let’s talk a little about those eggs.

First of all when eggs are laid, they are covered with a thin oil coating that makes the shell impermeable to water (and therefore bacteria.) Because of this, you don’t need to refrigerate an unwashed egg for up to a few (3 tops) days. (Of course I tell people that they shouldn’t ever leave any eggs in a very hot kitchen or in direct sunlight.)

Most people don’t like any kind of dirt (especially poop) on their eggs. Not a problem, but all you really need is a little water and a soft sponge.

This is how I wash all of our eggs:

I use gloves, but I use thin plastic (reusable gloves) so that I can retain a certain amount of feel for the eggs. If you have any cuts or scraps on your hands, gloves are a requirement. (If you choose not to use gloves then make sure you use lots of soap and hot water afterward to wash your hands.)

I use a soft plastic bucket (I use the bottom of an old salad spinner) and fill it halfway with warm (not hot) water. Each egg gets gently placed in the bottom of the bucket (I only do about 10 eggs at a time to make sure they have room around them.)

Any eggs that float or whose butts tilt upward are discarded because it means that air has entered the shell and you can no longer guarantee that they haven’t been contaminated. Throw those suckers out.

Each remaining egg is then picked up and with a soft sponge (dollar store sponges work great) I gently scrub off any dirt. You’ll soon discover that a light touch is all you need. Continue reading


Filed under chicken care, Eggs, Personal, Resources

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.


Filed under chicken care, Personal, Resources

Lesson 546 – Basic first aid for chickens

Tonight I’ll be giving my Chickens 102 workshop in Concord. It follows Chickens 101 where we talk about how to get chicks, take care of them, and then transition them to the outdoors.

Tonight’s talk will be about how to maintain a flock. We’ll be talking about:

  • Winter care
  • Warm weather care
  • Henhouse care
  • Flock behavior
  • Poop
  • Food
  • Eggs
  • Infections
  • Body problems
  • Bio-security
  • Harvesting using a cone

I was talking to a reporter last week about chickens (I’ll link to the article once it is published) and she asked me what I would do if a chicken got sick.

The short answer is that I would do what I could (the operative word here is, of course, I.) I have no illusions that chickens are anything but farm animals (even our all-time favorite hens like Simon, Morganne, and, especially, Charlie.) Continue reading


Filed under chicken care, Personal, Resources

Lesson 544 – Spring in our steps

Spring has arrived here in New Hampshire.

Our Bleeding Hearts have blossomed.

The Dandelions are playing tag with the lawn, you’re it.

Violets have gathered to giggle in shy groups.

And the Bluets are madly cheering the warmth and light. Continue reading


Filed under Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Eggs, Points to ponder, Roosters