True stories of a small flock of remarkable individuals -- and other critters.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


While the other gals are stampeding willy-nilly through that puddle,

Daisy stands transfixed at the water cascading over the edge. 

How many chickens do you know who carefully observe the hunting techniques of a robin? 

Okay, I'll just say it.  
I think I have a genius in the coop.

Over and over again, Daisy displays phenomenal mental capabilities.

Of course a chicken's brain, no matter how capable, is a little bit skewed in its design.

Daisy is easily distracted.  And she has a tendency to panic.  Comprehension is pretty weak, too.  
But doesn't that sound like the average report card these days anyway?

Minor disabilities are no obstacle for Daisy.  
She earnestly perseveres, committed to exploring the farthest reaches of her universe.

The kitchen, for example.

Daisy is obsessed with our living quarters.
While none of the other girls shows even the slightest curiosity about our human lives,
Daisy seizes every chance to stalk around the back deck peering into windows.

That day I left the sliding door open, Daisy cautiously advanced. This was her first opportunity to actually step inside, and she was giddy about it. She carefully absorbed every detail during those precious few moments.

Those precious few moments ended when Marky hopped up onto the deck---
but the excitement of her expedition left Daisy longing to return.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Daisy's next opportunity came just this week.
She had been laying eggs with no shells for several days, and I was pretty concerned. 
Daisy wasn't behaving like a sick chicken, but I knew something was wrong.

Then one night as I locked up the coop, I noticed that Daisy was missing.
I hunted around,
and found her asleep in the nestbox.
...not a good sign.
My hens always sleep on the roost. There's plenty of roosting space for them, so the nest boxes stay clean and are used only for egg-laying.
I had to pause and think for a moment about what to do.

I recalled what Terry Golson of once told me... (or did I just think she'd told me....?)

"when in doubt, give'em a bath".

...and if Terry didn't say this, she'd probably agree with me anyway.  
It's a pleasant experience for the chicken, and it's a good chance to do a little physical exam. So I took Daisy into the kitchen, filled a tub with warm water and plunked her in.
She had a whole mess of raw egg stuck to her feet and her belly -- so I was glad to get her all cleaned off. As I bathed her, I was able to examine her crop, gizzard, vent, toes.
All those little body parts seemed normal.
She thoroughly enjoyed her blow-dry,
she fluffed up the final feathers herself,
and then suddenly realized

that she was in the.... kitchen.
A sense of awe consumed her.

She became perky and happy, alert and investigative, which made me confident that whatever ailed her was not imminently fatal.
I let her explore briefly and then I scooped her up and ran her out to the coop before she could plop a heinous poo on the kitchen floor.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The next day I began augmenting the ladies' chicken feed with extra calcium, and in a few days Daisy was laying eggs with shells again. I think that the abundant bugs and grubs and grass and clover of this lush season had somehow set her nutrient level out of whack.

Daisy continues to study her world-
I watched her warily approach a dead vole in the coop the other day.

When she snatched it up and gave it a good shake I guessed that it might have been she who was responsible for its condition.

So how can it be that this fearless, plucky, intellectually superior --- and did I mention beautiful--- chicken 

has landed at the rock-bottom of the pecking order? 

Stay tuned for the next post:    BULLYING 


  1. Once again, you've left me hungry for more.

  2. I don't ALWAYS say "give her a bath" but it's rarely a bad idea! I bathed ten hen bottoms the other day. I wouldn't say that all enjoyed it (and I needed a bath, myself, afterwards!) but I tried a new treatment for vent gleet and messy bottoms. More in my blog next week about whether it worked.
    Lauren, I think we need a "spa day for people who give spa treatments to hens!"

  3. I loved this post it is informative, intuitive and hilarious, I love your illustrations and the video was fantastic. I will be very worried by the next post, I can't bare the thought of Daisy being bullied, she clearly needs chicken diapers and to become a house chicken! :)

  4. Fantastic! We too have a lady who is utterly fixated on peering in the back window into our kitchen. I suspect that she may be a Clever Chicken too, but she plays to cool so as not to arouse jealousy.

  5. Oh Lauren. Great post! I think I might have read her mind. I bet she though, "Wow! Get a load of this chicken coop! It's nothing like the one I've got out back!"

  6. Please tell Fern not to be jealous of Daisy. She can't help it if she's perfect! I so look forward to all your posts.

  7. Before they were confined to barracks, my hens would stage raids on my kitchen - my door would always be open if they were free ranging and they knew the best time was just after the childrens tea - lots of crumbs and other titbits under the table!

  8. We have the funniest little chicken that joined our house - with a very similar personality as Daisy! She chirps loudly when she knows we're around so we take her out to hang with the family. I wonder if she even knows she's a chicken! I think she needs a bath... ;-)

  9. Lauren, when I was growing up we had a Leghorn rooster that used to come upon the front porch every evening and watch the Dick Van Dyke show through the front window. When the show was over he went off to roost.

    My Poultry friends supplement with Oyster shell for calcium.

    Love your stories!

  10. I think Daisy needs to get together with my Big Girl, who has recently developed a sideline in killing moles....
    Wonderful blog, and thankfully it proves that chickens the world over are completely unfathomable. If predictably so!

  11. I always feel so bad when I read about the low hen in the pecking order. Daisy sounds adorable and I hope she stays healthy. Fun post.

  12. Daisy is the sweetest vole shaker I've ever laid eyes on.

  13. Thank you Lauren for another lovely post. I especially love the image of Daisy in the bath--looks very relaxing! What a brave and smart girl she is.

  14. Once when I was very sick I looked up from the couch and out the living room picture window to find that all my chickens were on the bench and looking in at me! They are the funniest creatures!

    QUESTION: What do you use in the water when you bathe them? Thanks! Lynda

  15. I love reading about the antics of your ladies. They are adorable.

  16. I love - LOVE - how Daisy stands on one foot on the threshold while she contemplates stepping inside!
    I wonder if she thought up the vole-shaking trick herself or if she learned from careful study of someone else's hunting techniques?

  17. Great post as always! I loved fig. A and B..too funny :)

  18. Love your way with words. Love sweet Daisy! She reminds me of my Lulu, who is the smartest yet the bottom of the pecking order. I think the others are jealous of our girls! ;)

  19. I LOVED this post! (it made me giggle!) the pictures are adorable!!!
    My first hen "Henny" used to fly out of her run, walk up the back steps and "knock" on the back door. I would open it up and she would walk right in and hang out with me in the kitchen while I cooked. I will never forget the night Matt came home from work and saw me cooking while Henny was sitting on a stool watching me. Matt raised an eyebrow and commented on the fact that it was demented to cook chicken while my pet chicken watched. ;0)

  20. A picture speaks a thousand words ... ... but the hens were speechless!

    See this entry for details!

  21. Awwww... Lauren...i can't begin to articulate how much i love your chickens, your illustrations, your heart.

  22. Wow! You are just amazing! Chickens and all! LOVE LOVE LOVE YOU! Eva

  23. Oh my goodness I think I've just fallen in love with a chicken! What a wonderful post. Thank you!

  24. Awesome post! Love it, love it, love it! The video with Daisy's leg up..."Should I stay out or STEP IN!!!!"

  25. Daisy is, quite obviously, a very brilliant chicken.

    I've actually 'trained' my bossy hens not to pick on the more mellow girls ~ at least when I'm not looking. ;-)

  26. oh the "heinous poo" factor! that's a funny one lauren. gotta love those sweet chickens! I haven't tried the blow dryer but they do seem to like a nice bath. I was surprised about that. I'll have to try the blow dryer next time.

  27. Lauren,

    I love your stories about Daisy and was delighted to see a video too. I'm so glad the bath in the kitchen fixed her right up. Not happy about the bullying though. Your artwork is wonderful.

    xo, Rosemary

  28. Great post!

    We have a couple of chicken geniuses as well. Rangy is always jumping into the car when we opening it up (takes her all of three seconds to figure out the magical door is open to her) and we also have a little red hen (Named "Little red hen" who follows us everywhere like a little dog.

    I never thought of giving a chicken a bath-- wow.

  29. If we could have, in our serious teenage years, looked ahead and saw the things that we ended up doing in our lives, (such as bathing a chicken,) would we have found it as fun and funny then? I absoluntely adore your posts and artwork. Thank you!

  30. Delightful illustrations and quirky commentary - often I wonder if it is entirely appropriate that I sit by my chickens and imagine for them their daily story. Thanks for making me feel normal...

  31. Awesome awesome :) And love the pics! I so want to meet this chick.

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  32. Daisy is obviously the misunderstood intellectual of the group. Maybe Daisy needs a pet to watch? (I guess the vole didn't work out though...)

  33. LOVE the video, love the story. I guess chicken geniuses are as misunderstood as human nerds. My backyard is not totally fenced, so I can't let the girls out in general. But I yearn to have a chicken looking in the windows. Looking forward to the continuing saga. BTW I love the commenter whose rooster watched The Dick Van Dyke Show. Ya gotta wonder....!

  34. Lauren, many people have already said it but I love, love, love your blog!! I live in Kent, the garden of England, and have just two girls - Kernel (smart) and Violet (beautiful)- and if I didn't have other things to do, would hang out with them all day. Looking forward to the next instalment xx

  35. :( Speaking of bullying.. I recall reading in your blogs that a former bottom of the pecking order chicken has begun terrorizing your newer hennies. I'm in a similar situation, I have two older chickens, and introduced three that i hatched out this past december. The non-dominant older chicken has been a TERROR to these poor new girls. The dominant chicken will give a little warning peck and warning chicken grumbles, but otherwise ignores and leaves them alone. It isn't so with Runty, I almost feel like she is trying EXTRA hard to let the new girls know that she'll never be on the bottom of the pecking order again! Well, it's too much so we end up shutting her back up in the run alone.. Has your hen gotten nicer? Or will my Runty hen be mean forever to my dear sweet girls? :(

  36. I am new to your blog, but I can tell I'll be no stranger from now on. Your talent and humor are so refreshing!

  37. Lol I love your stories, always make me chuckle!