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

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Daisy and the Broody Toad

The young Nuggets were terrified of Daisy. Her attacks were incessant.  
So in the interest of peace and safety, I decided to split the flock.  
Thank goodness I've built so many coops.

The four youngsters and Lucy continued to abide in the big coop, 

and I moved Daisy into the jailhouse where wicked Lil'White is serving her life term.

To make Daisy's transition more comfortable, I dragged her favorite little henhouse into the jail yard. 
When I built this house a few years ago, all the ladies were amused by it.  

Lucy checked it out first, then settled on the front porch. 

But Daisy decided instantly that this would be her own personal nest box. 
She marched right in and laid an egg. 

Daisy settled comfortably into jailhouse life, and continues to lay eggs in her white henhouse.  She and Lil'White get along just fine because they're both self-absorbed and aloof.  They kind of enjoy having their very own prison. 

Recently I discovered another resident in the Chicken Jail. 

I discovered it when I opened the back door to Daisy's white house to collect her egg, and nearly grabbed this:
Definitely not an egg. 
It was a toad.  
sitting calmly beneath a Daisy-feather.  

I quickly shut the door.  

I didn't know what to do.

If I left the toad, then Daisy would soon walk in and find it.  
I've seen Daisy kill frogs and shrews.
I love toads.  
Should I rescue it?  
Or should I let nature take its course?

I walked away... 

Later in the evening, I went back out to collect Daisy's egg.  
Expecting to find carnage and toad-chunks, I opened the door ever-so-carefully....
And there it was, Broody Toad, beside an egg.   

Daisy had stepped ever-so-carefully past the toad and laid that egg, then stepped out again.

Why didn't she touch it?

It's not because she likes the toad. It's because she's smart. 

She knows that toads have a secret power. 

Marky knows the secret of the toad.
He learned the hard way. He licked one. 

His mouth fizzed up like he'd eaten a bar of Ivory soap. 

So apparently chickens know, too.  But I'm not sure how.  

Last summer, when the Nuggets were mere youngsters, they met their first toad in the garden.  
They all shrieked and stared. 
I rushed over to see what the hysteria was all about, and found this tiny creature 
standing on its tippy toes, trying to look fearsome.  

Apparently it succeeded.  The ladies didn't touch it.  
It's been more than a month now that Broody Toad has been rooming with Daisy. And Daisy is careful and respectful of it still. 

She's a smart chicken, Daisy.

So where did the phrase, "dumb cluck" come from?  

Not my flock.


  1. Great Story. Thanks for sharing :)

  2. Fine toad, obviously a good egg.

  3. thanks - always a pleasure and sometimes a great lesson too!

  4. Oh, I just love this toad tale! Two of God's creatures living in a peaceable kingdom! ♥

  5. A toad that likes to be kept warm and .... dry? Whatever, it's nice to see a bit of harmony in your flock - even if it's interspecies.

  6. I giggled all the way through! Precious!

  7. I'm just laughing to bits right now! What the heck is that toad surviving on? LOVE? Another wonderful post Lauren! You have given my day a fantastic start!

    1. I didn't even think of that! But they eat insects, grubs, slugs, worms - a lot of the same things hens like - and since there are always plenty of those around Daisy needn't fear a scarcity. They even eat spiders! Bah. That is the one creature I am completely unsentimental about. I could shoot one between the eyes and then skip home whistling.

  8. Great story! I love the expressions on the nuggets when they saw the toad.

    'Dumb Cluck' probably came from one flock I had, who discovered a flaw in the construction of their hen house and proceeded to eat half the hard board insulation.

  9. Oh I just love your story posts! Wish my granddaughter were closer so I could read them to her.

  10. There's a species of tiny frog that lives in the dens of mother giant tarantula spiders. Why? It eats the mites that can attack the baby spiders. The mother spider leaves the frog alone because she apparently knows it'll eat the mites.
    Same idea, perhaps?

    Either way, you have a nice toad there. Now you have a pet toad, I suppose! Or Daisy has a pet toad.

    It's probably eating flies. I'd assume that there are flies in there. Or perhaps it leaves at night to go and get bugs, then comes back to its favorite spot.

    As you may know, toads don't actually need water. They prefer to stay damp, but they don't need water. Maybe he likes the warmth enough to stand it being dry.

  11. So glad I came here today! Four months is too long to go without a new installment in your ongoing chicken soap opera. (With Lil White and Daisy vying for the Susan Lucci role.)

  12. Just read your book and love getting updated with your adventures on this blog! (I got rather attached to your hens, I must admit) We have lots of toads in our garden, but I doubt that my hens will encounter them, as they are not legally allowed to roam in the garden (we live in Singapore) and I am not sure our resident toad (we call him Kermit, he lives under the outdoor sofa) will find his way into the run. But glad to know (or hope) Kermit will be safe. If you are interested about my attempt to raise 6 rescue hens in a Singapore jungle (full of monkeys, snakes and 6 foot lizards), do check out my own blog (

  13. Very informative, keep posting such good articles, it really helps to know about things.