No One Here but Us Chickens

Two confessions:

  1. I am obsessed with my chickens
  2. Until a couple months ago, I was terrified of chickens.

I am probably the least likely person ever to have chickens, let alone to be completely enamored of them. My whole life, I’ve nursed a bit of a terrible fear of flighted creatures. They flap their wings, they can go (read: “get you”) almost anywhere, they look like dinosaurs, they carry disease and they seem unpredictable. “I do best with animals that weigh as much or more as I do,” I stated as I handled all manner of horse, goat, cow etc. Chickens were not for me.

jillschickens3Then came Henny, Penny, Jenny and Louise. Well, in fairness, first came many a 4-H’er with their docile hens that alternately taunted and pleaded with me to “just get over it.” It’s hard to rationalize your fear when a 5 year old is snuggling a rooster half the size of her own body or gleefully giving her favorite hen a bath (that’s a real thing, I swear). Then came a house, a longing for fresh eggs and as agricultural a lifestyle as my 1/4 acre lot would support.

So I built a coop – or as I like to proudly say, a chicken fortress (no small feat, I assure you!) and reluctantly/excitedly accepted a gift of 4 Rhode Island Red Hens from a friend.

People told me that chickens are completely consuming- that I wouldn’t be able to help a sudden obsession with them and a desire to have ever more chickens. They told me about chicken personalities, “chicken therapy” and that I would be able to tell them apart by sight, by eggs and by cluck. I laughed. These people are nuts.

It is all 100% true. In 4 months I am completely converted. doubleyolk

Henny, Penny, Jenny and Louise have taken over my yard. I know their favorite treats and their favorite hangouts. They are more loyal than my dog- when I call her in from being outside, it’s the chickens that come running to me. I contemplate their health and happiness and the quality of their coop and eggs. I felt bizarrely proud when I found my first-ever double yolker. I confess. I love my chickens.

jillschickens2My foray into poultry hasn’t been without incident. There have been a couple of unfortunate and accidental coop lock-out situations that left hens either running in the street towards a large intersection or roosting in inappropriate places. I had to conquer my still-present fear of touching them (chickens are not for touching, I tried to say at first) in order to restore them to their coop. The coop has been a little leaky. Some of my eggs from the oldest hens have been thin shelled. They make a mess. I was convinced someone was breaking into the house through the basement, until I found all four hens tapping on the glass window.

It’s all small stuff. Chickens are great and low-maintenance pets that happen to produce an abundance jillschickens1of delicious eggs. What an abundance it is. I scramble eggs, I fry them, I soft-boil them, I poach them, I make omelets and toast soldiers and quiches. I give eggs to everyone I see. Occasionally, even the dog gets an egg. I host brunches just to have a reason to use more eggs. “Egg recipes” is probably my most searched google term.

As we focus on eggs this spring and Easter season, we all know that I’ll have an abundance to be thankful for. Good thing, I know just who to thank.




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