Books

The Chicken Encyclopedia

Chicken encyclopedia

If you keep chickens, you probably already have a book or two by Gail Damerow. She's the author of The Chicken Health Handbook, which is the What To Expect When You're Expecting of chicken-raising. It is incredibly detailed, sometimes terrifying, and yet it is the first book we bought and the one we consult first whenever we have a problem.

The new book is, as the name implies, an A-Z encyclopedia with lovely illustrations throughout. You get photographs when a photo is really what you need, and diagrams or drawings when that's more useful.  And just the right amount of how-to is sprinkled throughout.  For instance, as I was flipping past the entry for "spurs," I found an entire page devoted to "spur trimming," something I desperately need to know more about as my Golden Wyandotte, Abigail, has grown horrifying spurs that must embarrass her terribly and might even hurt.  Spur-trimming, it turns out, involves needle-nosed pliers, vegetable oil, a baked potato, and a Dremel cutting tool. 

I am not making this up. At moments like this I wonder if I am really cut out for the stewardship of chickens. At least now I know how to do it; whether I actually will do it is another question.

As a how-to book, an encyclopedia can be frustrating.  The breeds are not all grouped together; an entry on Asian Malay hens is right next to an entry on manure balls. Problem-solving can be a bit tricky too:  the entry for "slipped wing" is right there between "slip" and "smut" ("slip" being far dirtier than "smut," as it turns out), but if you had a chicken with a wing problem, you might miss the "slipped wing" entry–and it's not in the index under "wing." 

These are not complaints.  I'm just saying:  it's an encyclopedia, and the randomness of the alphabetical system is what makes encyclopedias weird and wonderful to read. If they organized the material by subject matter, it wouldn't be an encyclopedia. So adjust your expectations accordingly.

I was particularly happy to see the section on poisonous plants (which Damerow files under Toxic, not Wicked) and was surprised to see vetch and corncockle on the list, two plants I'd grown around the chickens before without ever thinking about it. See what we learn when we read the encyclopedia?

It's a cool book, and I'm especially impressed that they managed to do a full-color, nicely designed, big fat paperback and still keep it priced under $20.  I know that's not easy to pull off, and it's nice that Storey  made it affordable and accessible to any chicken owner.  Now, Storey, here's my only question:  where's the app?

You, too, can own a copy of The Chicken Encyclopedia!  Just tell us any sort of charming chicken story and we'll choose a winner next week.

Posted by on March 7, 2012 at 4:43 am, in the category Books.
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48 Responses to “The Chicken Encyclopedia”

  1. Hugh Martin says:

    Our girls rule the yard. Where many chicken enthusiasts worry about dogs going after their chickens, our Rottweiler/Lab mix will go out of the way to keep from walking past our hens. One flogging several years ago taught her a lasting lesson!

  2. Earth Girl says:

    I was raised with chickens and 40 years later I will be getting chickens of my own. How much will I remember? Collecting eggs, saving table scraps, the light bulb warming baby chicks. Those memories will be insufficient, but there is a wealth of resources, including this encyclopedia.

  3. Amber says:

    Well, I don’t exactly have a charming chicken story because this will be my first year to own and raise chickens. I’m excited about it, though, as I’ve been wanting to own chickens for the last four years but it had never been the right time to commit to something such as owning chickens. So, although I do already own a couple of chicken raising/care books, I would love to get my hands on another one!

  4. Wendy says:

    I don’t have any charming chicken stories yet since I’m just getting my first chicks on 4/20. I’m super excited and NEED this book!

  5. Lisa says:

    In my book, every story I have about my chickens is charming. We’ve had our first batch of chicks for about a week now. Last Friday they all learned to stretch. I was watching when the first one put out its back let and stretched out its wing. I was so worried that she had hurt her leg. Then all of a sudden they were all walking around and stretching. “Wanna see the new trick we learned?”

  6. Sara Sweatman says:

    Last year, around this time, I got a frantic knock at my door early one morning. My neighbor came racing in with a cardboard box. We peered inside to see seven little peeps. I home school my three children and my neighbor thought it would be fun for them to raise the chicks. The deal being that when they were old enough, they would go to her house. My kids spent weeks and weeks cuddling and caring for these little guys. My eight year old sons kidneys don’t work and he isn’t allowed to be near too many kids because of illness. He became so bonded with the little gals. They were companionship that he greatly needed. This year, my son has gone into a remission. The doctor says he is well enough to have some chickens of his own. We ordered some chicks and are awaiting their arrival. We still help with the neighbors chickens but these will be ours!

  7. Terry says:

    My backyard hens are a covert operation. Our homeowner’s covenants forbid “fowl”. Of course to me they’re just pets. I can’t imagine not having them.

  8. Jeremy says:

    We have had chickens for about a year now. My wife grew up with them (50,000 of them). We have six and they consume me. I try to tell our kids that they are better than TV but they dont quit believe me. I basically got them for the manure but the eggs are nice also. Last summer my two girls (ages 3 and 6) were finding crickets in the sandbox and they would catch them and take them down to the coop. What great fun they had watching the other girls just go crazy over a few big tasty bugs.

  9. Julia says:

    I don’t have chickens, but I have three granddaughters under 4 years old and my daughter and her husband are moving to the country and they will be having chickens. So this book would be a gift for them.

  10. Julie says:

    Our girls are spoiled rotten by our Chicken Mama…our 10-year-old chicken-obsessed girlie. She has read at least a dozen books about chickens…and re-read them another dozen times. For Christmas, a friend brought us a bottle of wine, accessorized with a tiny Santa hat and scarf–which our daughter promptly confiscated so that she could accessorize her chickens! (You can see a photo at http://growingdays.blogspot.com/2011/12/holiday-dress-up.html ) When a raccoon attacked Salt, one of the Barred Rocks, we were devastated. Our wonderful vet tried to save her, but her injuries were too extensive. My poor girl was heartbroken. Now, though, she is looking forward to adding three more chicks to the flock–and counting down the days until they arrive. Yesterday, she informed me that according to the schedule–the eggs should be laid today! If this child doesn’t become a vet or farmer, I will be shocked. ;-)

  11. Meryl says:

    My tiny bantam laid her first egg this weekend. From her squawk you’d think it was the size of a boulder, but it was actually about the size of a robin’s egg and yolkless to boot! We’re hoping it was just a “practice” egg.

  12. CrystalGB says:

    We have several Wyndott and a few Bantam. One of our Bantam hens loves my husband. She will sit on his hand and let him pet her.

  13. Terry Golson says:

    FYI, I had a chicken that got poisoned from eating too much vetch early one spring, when it was all that there was growing in the field. Her legs gave out and she went into a semi-paralyzed state. I dosed her with epsom salts (a great detoxifier) gave her TLC and she eventually fully recovered (well, she no longer lays eggs, but that might just be her age.)
    Don’t enter me in the contest – I’m on the blog tour myself.
    Terry at HenCam.com

  14. I was about twelve when I got my first chickens. I was so excited and couldn’t wait to start gathering eggs. The little yellow chicks finally grew up into big white chickens, but they wouldn’t lay any eggs. I tried putting a toy egg in the coop to encourage them. Nothing. Finally, a neighbor stopped by and we asked him if he could help us find out why they weren’t laying. He took one look and announced that they were all roosters! Well, I learned to tell the difference between hens and roosters, but I could learn a lot more from this book!

  15. Dwhite2762 says:

    I have owned a small flock of 6 chickens for just one year. I’m not sure if this is a charming story or not but here goes.
    I am constantly late for work. I always find one more chore to do that makes me late. My husband asked that I check the chicken’s water before I left for work. So I went in to the run to check it. The girls come running to see if I brought treats. I didn’t hear the “click” of the latch on the run door but I seemed to have locked myself in pretty good. I thought “don’t panic. I have thumbs. I can get myself out of here.” However, I couldn’t find any tools, wires or anything to get the latch up on the door. The top of the run is covered to keep out hawks so I couldn’t climb out. We made it so well that there was no way out. All of my neighbors had already left for work so I couldn’t yell. I could see my cell phone outside of the run on the sidewalk. My dog looked at me helplessly. The chicken girls wanted treats. I tried to unwrap the wire on the run but my arms were not long enough to reach the latch. Then a mircle occurred! For some reason, the latch just wiggled lose and I was free but over 2 hours late for work. The girls liked spending time with me!

  16. I loved raising chickens in the 80′s. I had a flock of Sex link chickens. I raised them and sold the eggs. I had young children then and it was a great learning experience. the good old days.

  17. Daedre says:

    I keep my chickens in a fenced off area in my garage at night. Almost every morning lately, when I let them outside, I find one or two of them wandering around on the other side of the garage (not sure how they get there).

  18. I have a few hair-raising chicken stories–but that might be better on another day. LOL.

    I enjoy my birds, except for one mean rooster who shall forever be known as zombie chicken.

  19. Laura Bell says:

    Charming chicken story ? How about “The Chicken at the Wedding”?

    Got married & held the reception at my parents’ rural home. Guests from my husband’s side were surprised to realize my parents were from farm stock, keeping a huge garden, goats, a beef steer, a horse, assorted dogs and cats, and chickens. My sister was also caring for a couple of baby llamas at the time & brought them with her. During the festivities, many a guest wandered down the path that led to the pastures and the chicken coop, for a visit, since we’d made sure they were all “sequestered” for the day. One of the chickens was a little red hen that was forever angrily chasing Dad away from her nest. He named her “Gracie” after Mom, a redhead, small in stature, and possessing a temper.

    Come time to leave, husband and I dodge bombing by birdseed and make it to our rental car at the roadside. He comes around to open my door for me … and out flies Gracie, madder than we’d ever seen her and ready to fight somebody ! My younger sister and husband’s smitten best man had actually planned to put several chickens in the car, but we left too soon. And Gracie the hen didn’t seem the least bit appreciative of her role as special guest.

  20. Lorna says:

    Last weekend, I hatched chicks. I have a small flock of Salmon Faverolles, a shy heritage breed with feathered feet and faces and super-handsome roosters (think Robert Pattinson with wings and spurs). I had decided, at this age (way older than he is), that a person should see eggs hatch at least once in their lifetime. Good call. In twelve hours, I had more life lessons than I knew what to do with: don’t help the babies out of the shell–even though you really really want to–cause they need to do it themselves. And don’t interfere (aka open the inky just to check) with what nature already knows how to do. And, of course, what a cheap thrill to keep trying and learning and doing right by animals.

  21. Shelley says:

    Most of my chicken stories involve my Lakenvelder Eglantine, or Eggy for short. We have nine chickens here on our five-acre property in Colorado. They are all different breeds, are named after French women, and are affectionately referred to as “The French Chicks”.

    Well Eggy is always busy. And from what I’ve read, Lakenvelders in general are “busy”…as “in your business” at all times. If I were to characterize Eggy as a person, she would be an elderly lady, glasses on the tip of her nose, purse at her elbow, walking briskly about the neighborhood soaking up any and all gossip!

    Most of the time when I visit with the chickens each day, Eggy is the first to come running over, tail feathers spread in excitement, peck, peck, pecking at my shoestrings or toenail polish, depending upon the season. I like to sit in the chicken yard and pet the girls, talk with them and so on. Generally taking in their health and well-being in the process.

    One day while I was sitting, Eggy had had enough of my attentions towards the other girls and took matters into her own hands by flying up to my shoulder! There she sat very contentedly and pecked at my earrings – Queen of the chicken yard! She is quite the character, certainly not one to be ignored!

  22. Laura says:

    Hi. Thank you for participating in this fun and eclectic blog contest. We love meeting and learning about other “chicken people.” Reassures us that we are NOT the only crazy ones.
    It has been almost one year since we received our box of peeping fluff balls – 16 in all. It was love at first site. Golden Lace Wyandottes, Silver Barred Rocks and Buffs. One Dot choose me for her friend early on; we call her Natalie (the name just came to me) She comes right over, jumps up on my lap or shoulder and talks to me. She chats away and sometimes takes a little snooze. I imagine she is telling me about the other girls, what I might have missed, that it is too windy, etc…and while I crave my chicken time each day, she is my buddy. The best part for me about Natalie and the whole experience in general, is that I feel more connected to the world as a whole, rather than the myopic focus as a “human.” They remind me that we are all in it together and need to take better care of the earth! We are addicted and cannot imagine time without chickens. The coop is next to the garden and bee hive-the area is our sanctuary! take care – Laura

  23. linden says:

    We have an Irish wolfhound, so our dog door is large enough for an overweight burglar to crawl through. Last summer our six chickens figured out that they could come in the same door Alistair went out of, so one day when my husband and I were gone all day the entire flock came in. We came home to find them lined up in the living room like a band of warriors, loudly clucking away at us. They must have spent hours being little hooligans, because the damage was breath taking. They had: hopped up on the seedling light table and mowed down all the plants except for the leeks, rummaged around on the kitchen counter and taken a few pecks at the onions and many pecks at the tomatoes, sat on various book shelves to relieve themselves, and sat in my favorite Mission chair so they could easily pick at the loose threads and make a run in the fabric into a hole. I still love them but we have a new magnetic door dog that Alistair can hardly open so it should be chicken-proof.

    Thanks for the chance to win this very useful book.

  24. I don’t own chickens (yet! working on it!), so no recent stories here, but I have incredibly fond memories of visiting my grandparents as a child and chasing the chickens through the barn! I’ll try to minimize the chasing when I get my own flock…

  25. Lisa Beckman says:

    This isn’t about our chickens but rather my neighbors who also raise meat goats. Just the other day she came home to frantic children because one of the mommy goats was in process of deliverying a kid and it was stuck. Unfortunately, it was stuck for so long that it took my neighbor gall 20 minutes of pulling to extract the little guy only to discover it had died. She went to the barn to get the shovel to bury the little guy and was detained for about 20 minutes, that when she returned the little baby goat was nowhere. She searched everywhere and noticed there were no chickens outside and in fact it was awful quiet. Looking in the chicken house she discovered the now alive baby goat snuggled in the chicken house, with her 10 plus chickens laying on it, near, beside it giving it warmth with their feathers fanned out over it, as if in a blanket. Happy to report “Mr Jack” the baby goat is alive, happy and doing well with his 10 chicken mothers since his own has abandoned him entirely.

  26. SewLindaAnn says:

    I don’t own chickens, but it’s somethings I’ve wanted to do for so long. Once my son is settled I’ll be able to move somewhere I can do it. For now, I’m enjoying everyone’s stories and learning all I can. I must look so funny at the pool with my hobby farming books in the suburbs of Atlanta.

  27. Jessica T says:

    I don’t have any charming stories yet. However my favorite thing to do as a kid was to see if any of our chickens had laid eggs and the excitement of egg collecting. Soon my own kids will get to do that! Raising their own hens and knowing where some of their food comes from to me is awesome. :)

  28. Elizabeth says:

    My charming chicken story starts on a warm summer evening. As I was sitting in the back yard with my 2 year old playing near by, I looked up. At my supprise I saw another chicken, my 2 year old was copying everything a near by hen was doing. It was one of the cuteist things I’ve ever seen. My toddler with his arms up like chicken wings pretending to eat grass. Thanks for being part of this amazing giveaway!

  29. Melody says:

    We don’t have chickens yet but we really want some. My chicken story comes from our neighbors’ chickens. We had been house hunting for a while and we were really hoping to find a place in an area that allows chickens. We finally found the right place and kept telling everyone we knew, “We can have chickens now!” After a lot of years of apartment living, this was a new and novel thing for us. On one of the first days after we moved in, we were working inside with the windows open when we heard the most curious yet strangely comforting noises. It’s hard to describe in writing but they went something like, “Berrrrrrrrrrrk, berrrrrrrrrrrrk, rrrrrrrr.” The pitch varied throughout the low, rumbley, almost-growl-but-not-quite sound. What in the world? We looked at each other, surprised and also amused at the sounds coming from the general direction of our backyard. We went outside to investigate and discovered the source through the slats in our fence: Chickens! Our neighbors have chickens! We were so excited! Now we have someone to share with and to ask all of our new-to-chickens questions. So, ever since, we have enjoyed listening to our neighbors’ chickens and we look forward to having our own someday.

  30. judy says:

    I loved the baby goat story!I have Salmon Faverolles and one day after we had had chickens for years my husband asked me if I had seen the rooster dance!Also at a farmers market,a man said he wouldn’t get any more eggs there.They wouldn’t hatch!(after being in the refrigerator of course)I hope he learned a little more before he tried again.Judy

  31. Grace says:

    Two years ago this St. Patrick’s Day, my beloved snowshoe tomcat, “Spare Parts,” disappeared. I was heartbroken. Since I couldn’t have children of my own, he was my “baby.” While I was working in the greenhouse one day, mourning my loss, my neighbor dropped by and asked whether I’d ever considered raising chickens. “No,” I replied disinterestedly. To my dismay, the next day he showed up with twin Barred Rock chicks from the farm store! They were a sympathy gift, he said, because he knew how much I’d loved my cat. The chicks were a lot of work to raise, but, oh, so cute and entertaining! They won me over completely… When they were 17 months old I had to go out of state, and my neighbor kindly volunteered to care for them while I was away. When I returned, he gave me the crushing news that one of my precious hens had died the very day I left. I was devastated! But my neighbor again came through, surprising me this time with ten fertilized eggs from his son’s farm! Amazingly, my surviving hen, who had never once been broody, took to the foreign eggs! One of these chicks she hatched was very rambunctious, which unnerved her, first-time mom and orderly hen that she was. (I immediately sensed that this active little chick just had to be a roo!) She nearly pecked him to death, and I had to rescue him from her murderous beak. When I tried to reintroduce him to my hen, she charged him and again tried to kill him. I named him “Pectin Picton,” and I decided to raise him by hand in my solarium, where he gleefully proceeded to strip every single exotic plant I had overwintering in there! He thinks I am his Mama, and he likes to fly up and sit appreciatively atop my head, where he trills like a very happy songbird. What a joy this little guy has been in my life, easing the pain and helping fill the void that dear Spare Parts left. I really like the role of “Mama Hen.” I think it suits me. Thank goodness for both sweet chickens and nice neighbors!

  32. A. Marina Fournier says:

    Lisa, that story about Mr Jack is so sweet!

  33. Leslie of Blackbriar says:

    We have a farm in Georgia and have about 250 chickens in a mobile chicken house that we move around in the fields behind the grass-fed cattle. They free range and because I hand raised all of them they are all usually excited to see me and very friendly (we have Plymouth Barred Rocks). One day I hopped in the car and drove all the way (20 miles) to town before I realized I had 2 hens in the back seat joyriding. I did what I needed to do…they had a nice long ride…and to this day, if I leave the window down, there is always a chicken in the backseat wanting to go for a ride.

  34. Doc says:

    I have a beautiful little Silver-Laced Sebright Bantam named “Merry Etta.” I hatched some “mystery eggs,” and she was the only Bantam in the bunch. Because she was so tiny and flighty, I was overprotective of her for the longest time. There are some feral cats in the area, and I was afraid they might get her, mistaking her for a wild bird. She didn’t like it one bit that I confined her in the chicken run while all of her siblings got to be outside, free-ranging. She would squawk long and loudly about it to me, in protest. I knew my size discrimination was vile, but I didn’t want to lose her. One day she cleverly managed to escape. I was just sure something had gotten her! I searched for her for hours. She is so small that she is hard to spot, and she can squeeze in just about anywhere. Finally she came out of hiding, as if to say, “See, I CAN make it on my own, just as well as the big chooks, and this is how I had to prove it to you!” She taught me a valuable lesson that day, and ever since, I’ve let her free-range to her heart’s content. She especially seems to delight in the fact that she is the only chicken little enough to squeeze into highly desirable places such as under the wire of the compost pile, and that she is too small for my rooster to attempt to mate with. Her big sisters look on with envy! Size isn’t everything!

  35. DeborahB says:

    Our chicken house is tucked into the south side of the barn built under the barn overhang. Behind the chicken house is an additional area under the barn overhang where my husband stores a small hay wagon, the old cement mixer, and other miscellany. We included this area as part of the chicken yard, so that the girls have somewhere to hang out on cold or rainy days when they’re tired of being “cooped up”. I put down big pieces of cardboard in the winter to cover the snow for the 3 or 4 feet from their chicken door to the dry area under the overhang, so they can get there easily. My husband puts the old pea vines in the hay wagon in the fall, and the chickens spend many hours pecking thru them. They can scratch in the dirt under the overhang even when there’s a foot of snow outside. Best of all, they love the cement mixer. It’s their nest of choice. Something about being four feet up off the ground and surrounded in this safe metal womb. We put straw inside and made it cozy for them. Now none of the girls want to lay in their nice nests in the chicken house. Instead they literally line up outside the cement mixer, sometimes 2 or 3 of them at once. And if they decide the girl on the nest is taking too long, they barge on in, and lots of squawking commences. Sometimes I find two of them both sitting in the mixer at once, trying to lay their egg and ignoring the other hen.

  36. andrea says:

    one day, when my mom was a little girl, there was a chicken running around her grandparents’ garden without its head on… from then on she always did as she was told… ;)

  37. ST says:

    The Fluffy Incident of ’07.

    A few years back I brought home four chicks from the feed store. I set up the standard cozy box in the bathtub as it was a little cold to put the chicks in the coop. Over the next several days, three of the chicks died. I couldn’t figure it out. Their box was warm and clean and there was no sign of disease or problems at the feed store. I went back to the feed store and reported the problem, but they hadn’t had any other problems reported.

    Anyway, one chick survived. We named her Fluffy. I noticed something odd about that chicken. For one thing, she was growing at an unbelievable rate. I’d raised lots of chicks before and never saw the likes of this. Her feet were the size of a turkey and her body nearly as big (well, a small turkey). At about 6 weeks of age, she was so heavy she couldn’t support her own weight. She couldn’t walk up the ramp to roost at night and would only sit, panting by the feeder. It was bizarre.

    I started doing some chicken research on-line and realized that Fluffy was a broiler chicken. One of those genetically engineered, hatch to table in 6-7 weeks varieties. She would never lay an egg and her life expectancy was said to be 10 weeks.

    What to do…well after much hand wringing, we decided to eat her. We’re normally not in the habit of eating our pets, I swear! But this seemed like the most logical and humane course of action. She was obviously suffering.

    My husband, armed with a stump and axe did the deed. I didn’t watch. My stout Eastern European mother in law took on the plucking duties. I picked rosemary and readied the roasting pan.

    We had the neighbors and my parents over for dinner that night. Fluffy was big enough to feed all of us. She was delicious.

    We felt kind of guilty eating her, but after a few bottles of wine went around the table we decided that it was all for the best.

  38. Shelly Wade says:

    My social RIR rooster Rusty spent more time over at the house with me than over at the coop with his hens. He would jump up on the wood box, look in the window, & start crowing for me to come out. As soon as he saw me, he would run to the swing & jump up waiting for me to join him. He’d sit next to me on the swing, happy as can be.

  39. Sheila Henline says:

    My story isn’t necessarily charming however I do show my ladies respect by thanking them each time I collect their eggs. My daughters think I’m silly however I’m sure my hens appreciate the kudos for their work. :) Thank you for a wonderful blog.

  40. A story I wrote a while back about a true event :) It’s rather long, so if its too long..please just delete it! Her name is Eleanore. Eleanore A. Chicken. The A. stands for amazing. One Friday, on a trip around the yard, dear Eleanore decided to make a quick stop off at the compost pile. Now the compost pile is usually well fortified against chicken entry, chickens not being old enough to discern the good from the bad within it. On this particular Friday however, Eleanore noticed a small opening that one of the dogs had made. Delighted with her find, Eleanore wasted no time. In she went, eating delicious bugs and fruit.
    Later while lying paralyzed on the chicken run floor, Eleanore wondered whether it was the barely recognizable half of orange that gave her the botulism, or the aged broccoli remnants. “No matter,” she thought, “whatever it was, it accomplished its job very well. Not a muscle would obey her command. Limp as a, well . . . as a dead chicken, Eleanore lay on the gritty run floor, waiting for the nasty bacteria to finish her off.
    What Eleanore didn’t count on was Food Lady coming out to check for eggs early Saturday morning. Food Lady usually came out later in the morning, today however, she was up early to attend the Farmers Market. Crossing the lawn from the house to the coop, Food Lady took one look at Eleanore, let out a small shriek, opened the run and grabbed her up with no regard for her freshly washed clothes. Not knowing where she was going to put her, Food Lady brought her into the food barn. The food barn, being the dark and quiet place that it was, seemed a much better place to Eleanore than the run floor. Being trampled and pecked by high and mighty snobbish chickens was no way to “fly the coop”. Food lady laid Eleanore in a largish cage, with fresh clean bedding. Being paralyzed as she was, Eleanore decided not to even try and protest. She just looked up at Food Lady with the only outwardly working part she had, her eye. Food lady was horrified. Never had she seen such a sick chicken, and she hardly knew what to do! Google, being the wanna-be farm girl’s best friend, quickly told Food Lady that it was botulism that she was dealing with. It also told her that dear Eleanore was already a dead duck. Not prone to believing everything she reads, Food Lady rifled through her cupboards and brought out some highly digestible fish protein capsules, some strong pro-biotics, some vitamin E capsules, and some trace mineral drops. She then cracked a fresh egg, and mixed the yolk with the other ingredients and added a splash of Glacier Ice Gatorade to thin it down. Armed with the concoction and an eye dropper, she set out for the Food Barn, whispering prayers all the way.
    Upon her return, Eleanore could see that Food Lady’s faith had wavered. She noticed that Food Lady continually looked toward the axe that leaned against the wall. Her eye being all she could command, Eleanore looked up pleadingly at Food Lady. It must have done the trick, for once again Food Lady seemed in command of herself, and got to the business of being a chicken doctor.
    Poor Food Lady, her heart broke to bits as she held the limp neck of Eleanore. She noticed that Eleanore’s comb was blood red and that she burned with fever. Squeezing the bulb of the dropper, Food Lady filled it up with the fishy yellow concoction and filled dear Eleanore’s crop. After each dropper full, Food Lady would hold up Eleanore’s noodle neck and let it drain down to what was hopefully the proper area. After gently laying the dying Eleanore’s head down and encouraging her with soft soothing get well words, Food Lady closed the barn door and whispered another prayer as she went in for the night.
    Food Lady woke with the sun the next morning, and still clothed in her jammies, she sprinted to the barn. Slowly she opened the door, fully expecting to find a dead hen. Eleanore jumped in fright at the intrusion, only her jump was a barely noticeable wiggle of her head. Food Lady took the wiggle with great hope and ran inside to make another batch of Chicken-Get-Well-Goo. Even at this hopeful stage however, Eleanore noticed Food Lady eyeing the axe. What she didn’t know was that Food Lady felt awful for keeping Eleanore alive in such an awful state.
    Every two hours Food Lady mixed and stirred, squeezed and droppered. By nightfall, dear Eleanore had regained enough of her faculties to protest with a squawk and a slight wave of the feathers. By Sunday evening, Food Lady required assistance in getting the goo down the not so floppy neck of Eleanore.
    Monday morning found Food Lady jumping for joy as she peered inside the barn. Eleanore stood on her own, preening her feathers. It seemed to Food Lady that Eleanore was saying “I am a mess, please do not let anyone see me this way. Food Lady remembered being very ill once herself, and recalled that when the time came that she could worry about how awful looking the ordeal had left her, she was well on her way to being mended.
    After one more day in convalescence, Eleanore returned to chicken society, missing only a few feathers from the botulism incident. In the heat of the day, all of the hens gather under the plum tree and listen to Eleanore tell her harrowing tale. Food Lady cannot help but smile as she sees Eleanore standing tall upon the tree stump inside the run, just a few short feet from where she came upon her limp body days before.

  41. Jennifer says:

    My father in law, who lives next door on our 500 acre farm, has not been as enamoured of our beloved Ameracaunas as we have. After a few weeks of grumbling about the chickens coming over to invade(actually participate in) his afternoon cookie snack – a habit he started by feeding them his previously mentioned snack, one of our laying hens decided to leave him a gift for sharing. A gorgeous green egg right in the seat of his favorite deck chair! To this day, he still grumbles about sharing his cookies, right after he calls the chickens over to join him! And he loves to tell the “egg chair” story! :-)

  42. Genevive says:

    When my fella and I were building the coop and run behind our stacks of wood at the end of our back yard. (We use a fireplace to heat our home, so there are several “walls” of wood stack in the back yard. We stacked wood walls in what is the north east side of the coop and run for better wind blockage for them.)
    Our neighbor who has a precocious curiosity of what goes on in our yard, walks over, looks at the building materials in various stages of completion, and asks, “what are you guys building?”
    My fella, not skipping a beat, replies, “we’re getting some homing pigeons.” Perfectly straight faced.
    Our neighbor says, “that sounds interesting. Good luck with it”, and walks back over to his yard.
    A week later just as we got the “boxes o birds” to the new coop and run, we let the new hens out and as they are checking out their new home, our nieghbor seemed to materialize out of nowhere… He says with a subtle smirk on his face, “Nice pigeons.”
    We both busted up laughing at him.
    I guess my fella wasn’t certain how our neighbor would react to being neighbors with a few laying hens.. Long story short, our neighbor is more than good with it. LOL Over the last 9 months, my first experiance with backyard hens has been interesting and entertaining from the very beginning. :-)

  43. Our charming chicken story begins with a little boy who spent his birthday money to purchase several chiskens at Tractor Supply. In the end over the course of time only one survived, his prized cross-breed chick named Flick. There was just one more problem this little boy would face, yet another loss. Het lived inside the city limits and his bird was against ordinance. He had until sundown to find a suitable place for his beloved fowl. That is where we came in. Fair Haven Farms is our small rescue facility just outside of the town where Flick was discovered by animal control. She has joined our educational program and traveled to schools and entertained groups and 4-H meetings and is still visited by the little boy who picked her out at the store. She is one spoiled chicken.

  44. kate C. says:

    I am going to be building a chicken coop this summer and then getting my first chicks ever next spring – I’m very excited. I’ve been dreaming about this for three years now, but first we had to move to a house with enough room in the yard (by city ordinance) and now build the coop and wait for my baby to be a little older. Can’t wait for chickens next summer!!!

  45. Tashia Ellington says:

    We just got our chicks and it was on a whim. I happened to be at the feed store and saw them, came home and researched different breeds and order the ones I wanted from the local feed store (against my husband’s wishes). Now he checks on the girls several times a day and has fallen in love with them – and only has 6 weeks to build a coop – yikes. I am amazed at how fast they grow and am loving every bit of knowledge I have learned from other chicken moms and dads.

  46. Martha Waugh says:

    I started my little hobby with 3 chicks, 2 of which were young pullets and a day old little one. Little Gertrude was very dependent on her older sisters and peeped loudly if separated. So when they were old enough to move into their new home, they went together. Little Gertrude at some point figured out how to escape the run and didn’t know how to get back in. I found her peeping LOUDLY and running back and forth along the side of the run in a panic. She ran up to me and gave me that what for, demanding I put her back inside.

  47. Michele Harris says:

    My little Maudie, a white Araucana, is by far the most intrepid and obnoxious of the flock. One summer afternoon, I decided to drive the 30 miles to town to enjoy lunch with my husband at work. As I walked around my car, I could hear a scratching sound under the chassis. Fearing it may be a skunk hiding beneath the car, I banged on the hood to scare it away and retreated to the house to wait. Ten minutes later, I heard nothing so I drove to town, picked up lunch and enjoyed a leisurely meal with my husband. Imagine our surprise, when we walked out to my car, at finding my poor dazed hen tripping drunkenly around the parking lot. She had ridden to town, 15 miles on county road and 15 miles on interstate and 5 more around town, tucked on a small ledge on the under carriage of my car. Maudie evaded capture for quite some time, even refusing bits of my lunch-her favorite food. After her capture, my husband tried to appear casual carrying her around, searching through his workplace warehouse for a box in which to transport her home. It seemed like this was the day everyone stopped to visit. No one seemed the least bit surprised at the chicken under his arm. Many stopped to scratch her head. As we tried to contain her in the car, she would have no part in being boxed up. After putting up quite a fuss, she finally settled herself in the back seat where she could see right between the two front seats. As my husband and I stood up to smooth our “ruffled feathers”, we looked over to see at least 20 of his co-workers watching our escapade through the plate glass windows of his business. The most common question? “How did you know it was YOUR chicken?”

  48. Makenna says:

    Dont really have a “charming chicken story” but this will have to do i guess, one time last summer our chicken Bitsy was nowhere to be seen for a couple of months. I thought she was a gonner but little did I know she was way back in the feilds sitting on eggs. How do I know that? She came back with 6 baby chicks at her side that were 2-3 weeks old. I was out in the feilds late september and saw a nest with 2 eggs still in it that had not hatched.

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