Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Chicken Encounters of the Third Kind

A brown speckled egg from one of the Rhode Island Reds.

I found this post in my drafts, from a year ago! A very short post today, because I feel pretty darn eggs-hausted from the new chickens who arrived last week.

I have been googling chickens, asking random people about chickens, and learning to understand chicken sounds.

There are three of the little terrors, and now I understand why chicken eggs are $6 or $7 a dozen on Maui.

They are all females and I was told that chickens can't have PMS, but you could have fooled me.

They are sometimes quiet, but more often than not, loud, especially when I'm trying to work. They were always kept in a cage, and I am trying to teach them to free range. It has been a bit feather-raising for all of us, but some progress is being made.

I have also worried that they would eat things like Elephant Ear, which is poisonous to humans, and presumably to chickens. How do all the wild chickens on Maui know what to eat? Every gulch in Haiku is teeming with flocks of wild chickens.

I've worried about our chickens being in the rain, but... (This is where my original writing stopped.) 

Well, this was a good laugh to read something I had written almost a year ago. 

"Hmm... I'll try this weird noni fruit. (Noni is a medicinal fruit that smells sour!)"
This is the Auracana - she lays light blue eggs.
What have I learned from the three chickens?

·        They don't melt in the rain! They always want to go out, sun or shine.
·        They know what to eat, mostly. Though I did catch them gobbling up some styrofoam that they found under the house. 
·        They can handle the cat. 
·        They have different sounds for egg laying, wanting to go outside, wanting to go back inside, and wanting more food.
·        Like the cat, they have trained me to feed them more than they really need. I finally caught on to this, but it took a while.
·        They like to stay close to home. I thought they would run into the gulch and disappear, but they like to stay near the food source.
·        They are braver in groups of three. 
·        They always want what the other chicken is eating. If I give them all the same thing, they always want to see what the other chicken is eating and try to take that instead.
·        There is definitely a pecking order among them. 
·        They love taking dust baths (to suffocate parasites).
·        They can make a huge mess. I call them the CMDs (Chickens of Mass Destruction).

Chickens of Mass Destruction - goodbye green onions!
·        They each have very distinct personalities and behaviors.
·        It has not been cost-effective to have chickens for their eggs, since they all take “egg-laying strikes where they will molt for 6 weeks to 3 months or longer depending on how old they are. They will eventually lay fewer and fewer eggs as they get older and that is one of the issues with having chickens: what to do with non-laying hens? Everyone has a different approach.
·        If you ever want to eat your chickens, do not name them! We named them, and well, they are now pet chickens with personalities.
·        Even if I give them water in their water container outside, they seem to always prefer drinking from a muddy plant pot or a leaf, or anything that’s not from their container!
·        We seem to have fewer bugs and spiders in the yard with the chickens on duty. 

Chickens on duty, trimming the grass at the edge of the sidewalk.

The girls are endlessly fascinating. We agreed to have them, thinking we would save money on eggs. Ha! Each egg is a labor of love, not just for them, but for me in feeding them, moving them, cleaning their area, and collecting and finding eggs.  When I factor all the time in it, it’s about $600 an egg. But it has been a source of amusement and contemplation, and life is not always about the result, but the process.  It's not about having the eggs, it's about enjoying the feathers. Our cat thinks so too. She's always watching them...

Cat thinking, "I know I'm supposed to eat you, but you're bigger than me."
You may also enjoy reading the first post about the three chickens - but only if you have a sense of humor and are NOT easily offended.  


  1. Great post! I have many chickens in my back yard (they have the run of the neighborhood and are still wild, but I bought scratch feed for them and they come over twice a day for handouts). And yes, I've already named 3 of my favorites (Igorina, Feisty, and One-Eye). Thanks for sharing your delightful chicken story, Courtney!

  2. Great, glad you enjoyed it! They can be quite friendly when they know you have food!


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