There’s a Reason They’re Called Chickens

I have chickens* penned in my front yard. Right next to the apple tree. Between strays and intentional pets, now vandalistic landscaping, we’re running a regular petting zoo and small arboretum.

This morning, one flew the coop. It’s a 4×4 makeshift pen, but it doesn’t work with the idiom. After an hour of trying to outsmart an eight-week-old chicken, I’ve learned a few things I feel ready to share.

  1. Chickens poop a lot. Often, in their own food and water. I find this distasteful and not just a little unsanitary. They especially poop when alarmed by the unintended consequences of flying out of the pen.
  2. Chickens would rather be in the pen. Except when they are in the pen. Then they would like to be out of the pen.
  3. Chickens are fast. Faster than me. Don’t laugh. They’re faster than you, too. You cannot chase a chicken and win, unless by winning you mean that she is still loose and you are on the ground after having chased, swiped, and missed by a feather, again.
  4. There’s a reason they’re called chickens. Chickens are chickens. Easily terrified. And not very clever when frightened.
  5. Chickens have a marked advantage in Duck Duck Goose. Period.
  6. Chickens desperately want to be together. The escaped chicken would not leave the perimeter of the pen because her friend was inside. For an hour, they ran from one side to the other so that they could cheep at each other. And attempt to peck out one another’s eye. Which reminds me . . .
  7. Hen-pecked is more than a metaphor.
  8. A chicken’s appetite is greater than her fear. She will continue to peck for food, even as she perceives imminent danger (me) less than a foot away.
  9. Some chickens only know how to run in one direction. I haven’t tested this hypothesis with more than one chicken, thus I cannot say all chickens. No matter what, this one could only run the pen’s perimeter in one direction.
  10. When chasing chickens, one could use an empty laundry basket for a net, if one didn’t know there was a handy fish net hanging on the garage wall.


*A nice farm awaits Mordecai and Drumstick, where they can run free from the pen and lay eggs to their hearts’ content, as soon as they get their big chicken feathers. 

17 responses

  1. This chicken profile sounds hilarious, I didn’t know some of these things. However, the chickens in your picture look really cute as I’ve never seen that pattern before (I’m a bird lover).

    2012/07/14 at 11:33 AM

  2. And no one got video of this which could be posted on the YouTube?

    2012/07/14 at 12:02 PM

  3. Oh, my. Thanks for the smiles :). We kept chickens when I was a girl and I have mixed memories of the benefits. We had a favorite hen named Charlie and a little chick one of the dogs almost ate that we called the little man. We used a popsicle stick to brace his broken leg. But the utmost was that it was our job to pluck the feathers when some unlucky chicken was on the menu. I’ll never forget that smell of wet feathers.

    I hope your summer is going well, Lyla. Love to you.

    2012/07/14 at 12:11 PM

  4. S. Etole

    I learned at an early age it is not the better part of wisdom to go barefoot into the chicken coop which gives credence to point #1.

    2012/07/14 at 12:27 PM

  5. I’m not sure I even need the video. I can already imagine the chicken blogging tonight, pecking away about the ten things he learned while playing Duck, Duck, Delilah… (I know that’s not your name, but those chickens are so dumb, she’d probably type it that way.) =)

    2012/07/14 at 12:31 PM

  6. Thank you for the chuckle.

    2012/07/14 at 3:18 PM

  7. 2. and 6. sound like me.

    My husband would add another to your list:
    Chickens have been known to go mad and kill baby ducklings as they are hatching out of their eggs. Then the chicken owners slaughter all the chickens; the experience was so traumatizing to their children.

    2012/07/14 at 3:42 PM

  8. chicken sitting?
    more like chicken running.

    2012/07/14 at 9:42 PM

  9. Welcome back, Lyla. I’ve been really missing this you. A lot. LOVED this post – too many ways to count. And I’m having increasing difficulty imagining your house/yard. Between vandal tree-planters, front-yard fowl pens, guest dogs, fruit allergies, convalescent hospitals across the street – i just can’t quite grasp the mental image I need to see YOU in this crazy environment. Please bring actual pictures to the Frio when you come. :>)

    2012/07/15 at 12:42 AM

  10. Paul Willingham

    All this proves that you are just continuing the legacy left to you by your late grandpa Al. As a boy he and his mom and dad raised chickens, harvested the eggs and sold them in New York. His job was to collect the eggs each day plus keep them in water and feed. Fortunately for him, they were kept inside a coop and thus he did not have to chase them. They received $1.25 a dozen for their eggs (circa 1929). Last week I paid $1.48 for a dozen eggs. They paid to ship them by Railway Express from South Central Illinois to New York City. It is obvious that you and the boys have inherited the chicken gene. And like Grandpa Al and his “Chicken Story”, you chicken story carries a moral as well.


    2012/07/15 at 2:35 PM

  11. I’ve always wanted chickens…until now.

    2012/07/15 at 3:46 PM

  12. I think I’d pay to see you netting a chicken with a laundry basket. Yep–they’re fast. Be thankful they’re not roosters. Hen pecked is better than rooster-spurred.

    2012/07/15 at 9:03 PM

  13. I understand Drumstick, but Mordecai? As in Esther’s Mordecai?

    2012/07/16 at 11:30 AM

  14. I miss our chickens. I do. (I’ve missed you, too.)

    2012/07/20 at 7:03 PM

  15. What in the world? You are so much fun, Lyla! HIlarious!

    2012/07/29 at 8:47 PM

  16. If number 9 is true…why did it take you an hour to catch it? Does this mean 9 applies to all humans as well? This could explain why runners always race the same direction around the track…

    2013/01/24 at 9:05 PM

  17. Carla Brown

    Lyla, how did I not see this article before? I only found it while looking for a different post. Oh well, I like this story better. I LOVE my chickens. I call them ” my girls”. I have 2 new little yellow chicks named Henrietta and Trudy. And yes the are little poop machines and we love them. Chickens move funny and make me laugh every time. I could tell a story about Joe and I when our first chicken flew up into the neighbor’s tree, and we actually got it down and caught it…….

    2013/03/08 at 8:14 PM

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