Sunday, May 13, 2012

More chickenness

I am obsessed with chickens. Really. For the past two months, I've been raising five baby chicks. As I try to sleep at night, I can only think about how to make their lives better, safer, happier. I lay there in bed drawing creations for a second coop door to the orchard, an elaborate electrical fence to keep out predators, or a lavish "shade shelter" for them to hide under during the harsh daylight hours.

I have in fact followed through with a few of these plans. For one, I created a second door. This is more than a mere aesthetic improvement. The chicks have gotten big and fast and squirrely. They can no longer use the garden-side door because, when we let them out, they dig up our crops (and I can't catch them anymore). Now that there's a second door facing the orchard, they can get out and frolic without messing up the garden crops. (They know to go back into the coop at night.)

The second door:

And I also installed an electric fence. Two chickens were stolen by a night-time predator last year. So far, this season, we haven't seen the slightest sign of malfeasance from other creatures.

Here's one of my future projects: a shade shelter with a hay loft, a perch network for perching, and another hanging food canister.

Here are some more chick pictures (who my mother calls her "grandchildren").

Below is Patience, our adult chicken. Unfortunately, all the chickens cannot live peacefully together quite yet. It's Patience's instinct to violently peck them, so, for now, the chicks--at night--get the bottom compartment of the coop and Patience gets the top. They all use the orchard during the daytime, and luckily there's enough room in there for the chicks to evade Patience's attacks.

 My darlings.

Thirty seconds of chicken goodness: 


Tina said...

Wow Ken, my granddaughters are getting big. Loved the video!

Anonymous said...


We love you but you are CLEARLY a dude without a girlfriend. And you went to college for this?? Get out there and make some cash and get some professional experience in anything before it is "too late." Comes quicker than you think. Unless you can actually make it as a writer, that is.

Ken said...


Anon--Please don't be mean to me. Your comments and my responses:

“you are CLEARLY a dude without a girlfriend.” (It's okay not to have a girlfriend.)

“And you went to college for this??” (I went to college to study “liberal studies”—one doesn’t major in something like that for purposes other than intellectual development and spiritual enrichment. If I learned anything from my schooling, it’s that I must spend my time how I wish to spend my time.)

“Get out there and make some cash and get some professional experience in anything before it is ‘too late.’” (Too late for what? Too late to get a career so I can my days jumping through hoops, attending diversity training workshops, and climbing office hierarchies? I don’t think there is a better use of time than learning the admirable trades of farming and raising livestock.)

“Unless you can actually make it as a writer, that is.” (I have a magazine assignment this month, next month, and the first check of my book coming in this week. I’m making it just fine, I think.)

XXXXX said...

Amazing that comments like that always from an anonymous.
You know, you might consider not even responding for to do that you have to actually "think" about the charges brought against you and that, in itself, is a toxic experience.
I'm 62 years old and my generation was brought up being fed the kind of thinking that anonymous is talking about. Our parents meant well, as all parents usually do, but such advice is no longer applicable.
In a world of too much materiality which is caused by too much greed, it is time to switch course.
Time to value the virtues of a greater caring of our environment and all us creatures in it. Time to make room for more than the next new toy to buy.
You are doing great, IMO.
Speaking of chickens, I tried raising them once and was quite frustrated with the experience, but I didn't know enough about them to know what I was doing, so I am enjoying your experience.
Also, speaking of falling in love with them, have you ever read a book called "Illumination in the Flatwoods" by Joe Hutto?
If you haven't, I think you would love it. It is what made me realize that I just didn't understand my chickens well enough.
Anyway, Joe raised a batch of wild turkeys and became their mother. They were imprinted with him and he hung around them for over a year till they left him as they reached sexual maturity. It is a wonderful book. One of my we underestimate the intelligence of other animals, etc.
You keep up the good work now. As a member of the baby boomer generation, I am so glad to see young folk like you who refuse to follow in our footsteps.

Anonymous said...

I love that you have been immersed in raising chickens. The experience is a rewarding one, much more than a corporate paycheck. Trust me, I know because I'm cashing my latest corporate paycheck tomorrow and longing for the days when I can watch chickens play in the sun and worry about their needs instead of car payments and the like.

Keep up the good work!


P.S. Please tell David that his blog needs dusting off. In other words, 'we' miss him.

Mary K. said...

Sounds like you are a fellow who clearly has his priorities in order. Follow your bliss. Taking loving care of any of God's creatures is to be commended.
As Mr Spock said "live long and prosper".

Ken said...

George—thanks for the wise words. I thought I’d respond to anon’s comments because I’m sure raising chickens seems silly to many people, so perhaps having a conversation about it isn’t the worst thing in the world. The Hutto book looks great… All 31 reviews received 5 stars on Amazon, which is something I’ve never seen before. I might give it a look.

Candace—Thanks. Frankly, living on a farm and raising chickens might be the epitome of existence, so I am quite baffled why someone would want me to shove myself into a cubicle. On another note, I’ve been on David’s ass about getting his blog going again, but I’m not one to talk seeing as how infrequent I am with posting. I’m thinking I’ll get in the swing of things when this book is finally, finally off my hands, which still won’t be until mid-summer.

Mary K—You’re right: there is a incredible joy that comes from giving good lives to other creatures. I can say with pride that there may be no happier chicken than the ones in my backyard.

Tesaje said...

Nothing wrong with raising chickens. And especially in a way that gives them full range of chickeness - running around eating bugs and greens.

Love your mom's attitude. Very cute.

Congrats on your budding writing career. It is well deserved. You have real talent. And living a life with experiences and in a deliberate way will only make you better.

Laura Atkins said...

I think Anonymous #1 is just jealous. Nothing makes better girlfriend bait than seeing a masculine guy cuddling a soft baby animal (or bird, in this case) to his chest!

I think it's great that you are happy with your life. Is there really any other yardstick to use to measure its value?