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

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


As the sun dips low in the evening sky I step into my muck-boots and take some treats out to the girls.
I swear this is what happens every single night:
Daisy is the first to catch sight of me and sprints over to Lucy's side. She's a clever girl, Daisy. 

She knows I hand-feed Lucy on account of Lucy's being
virtually unable to walk anymore --- and Daisy wants what Lucy's gettin'.

Lucy gets her treat despite pesky little Daisy.

Then Pigeon curses and swears at me until I fill a little cup with feed and place it in front of her.
Inside her own private cup, she settles down to pecking and nibbling and talking to herself.

Then Lucy totters toward me and bumps into my boot.  That's her way of saying, "Pick me up."
So I do.   

She is capable of climbing the ramp into the henhouse, but why should she go to the trouble when there's a red sleeve that will take her up there?
....I always get a little thrill when Lucy perches trustfully on my arm.

Sometimes I fancy myself a Falconer--- the fearsome Barred-Rock clenching my gauntlet with mighty talons of death.... then I deposit Lucy at the top of the ramp, and she perches in the doorway for a bit.

Lucy fills the entire doorway with her tremendous girth, and she sits there until she's good and ready to move on.
A traffic jam forms.  The girls desperately try to squeeze past her this way and that way, but Lucy's titanic magnitude is impassable.  
Eventually Lucy moves on in, followed by Pigeon, Lil'White and Daisy, in exactly that order.

Fern is the last one in.  She dillydallies outside, oblivious.
She's busy eating dirt.
Yes, dirt.
No, I have no idea why.
When Fern eventually discovers that she's alone, she turns and scurries right up the ramp -

-- but she stops abruptly near the top....

for this little chicken knows

that somewhere inside....

lurks Lil'White.

With empty eyes and a cold dark soul, Lil'White makes it her business to torment Fern  in this way every night.  
She's good at it.  
Patiently she waits in the darkness.

Fern fidgets.
She panics a little.
She paces.

I leave Fern out there, terrified and terrorized, and trudge back to my house.
...but that's not the end of our evening ritual.
.  .  .  .  .  .  
A few hours later, teeth brushed and ready for bed, I go to the coop one more time in my muck-boots and pajamas.   
"Ferr-rn," I call gently.
"Br-br-br?," comes a lonely whisper from the shadows.

Too frightened to go inside, Fern has chosen to launch herself into the rafters above. There she waits to be rescued from terrible dark aloneness.
Fern grips my fingers with her little blue-black toes, and ducks her head as she rides my hand through the doorway and gets deposited on a roost inside.  
There's no attack from Lil'White this time because in the dark of night Lil'White can't see her victim.  
I withdraw my hand and listen to a little fluttering and shuffling in there, and then... the best part...  

I peek in at my little flock.


  1. Aww Lauren that was just wonderful! You're such a good story teller and I love the artwork. What a kind 'chicken keeper' you are and your girls have quite the personalities...poor old lucy and poor little Fern. They don't know how good they've got it at your house! Thanks for starting my day with a good laugh...I hope you and your family have a wonderful week.
    Maura :)

  2. Lauren, you're so good at this... the suspense about Fern was killing me! :) Absolutely LOVE the final picture of all the chicken butts snuggled together on the perch! thank you for sharing!

  3. Brilliantly observed and illustrated - poor Lucy (do you know what the problem is, or is it just old age?)

    I always say goodnight to my flock - and meet the steely stare of Tarragon the cockerel!


  4. They're lucky to have you tending to their special needs. :)

  5. Wonderful story. Who knows why chickens or even people behave in strange unacceptable ways. But as in you case, there often is someone to lend a hand of kindness.

  6. Just precious Lauren. I look forward to each and every post. Also, I think Fern and Mei were cut from the same, eccentric cloth.

  7. You're just the best story teller and illustrator! You captured the personality of chickens so well. And you're a good chicken mommy.

  8. I love the sagging board in the last picture. Makes me feel better about the sag in my own!

  9. I really enjoyed this little story and I want to see what happens next! Will Lil' White pick on Fern tomorrow? This would make a great chapter book. I love how you built up suspense with the scary picture and how you endear the chickens to your readers. Can't wait for the next post!!!

  10. We love your stories! My lady says her chickens all have individual personalities and they are so fun to be around and watch. She thinks a chicken on the arm is delightful as well.

  11. I love this. My girls have cute little rituals as well, and I just adore each and every one of them. Thanks for the great tale.

  12. love the falconer pic!! the fern part is so sad. our low totem pole bird waits til the last minute but she always goes in-- lil white is some mean chicken!! our five have particular sleep orders--it changes every night, but there are some girls who refuse to sleep side by side and will go head to tail instead--i guess to avoid getting pecked in the head all night. love those chickens. great post lauren

  13. Just found your blog today! What a delight! I'm glad to see Isobelle is one of your readers too! She is a special goat! Shall be back!!

  14. absolutely wonderful: story, drawings, heart, all! thank you for sharing this sublime little glimpse.

  15. My neighbors keep chickens, and I saw one of them run across the street the other day. I laughed, because it looked just like how you illustrate them running! very cute. :) love your stories, too!

  16. Chicken keepers of backyard flocks are so kind to their girls. Wonderful post. I wish I could read about your girls everyday.

  17. I love this! I can relate to your nighttime ritual, as we have ours too! I always feel so bad for the Ferns of the chicken world. Some gals can be so mean! Happy Spring

  18. A sweet story and illustrations to boot, to let us live through chicken ownership without the coop...thank you Lauren. Love your blog, and your chickens! Poor Lil'White and ?Daisy? that is not walking? I hope all is well.

  19. Opps, it is Lucy that is having issues with mobility.

  20. Love the story! Poor Fern. I always cheer for the underdog (underchicken?)

  21. I look forward to every post you write! You're such an awesome artist and story teller.. Have you ever thought of writing a book of your flocks adventures?

  22. So well done, Lauren. I really enjoyed reading it. Your stories and illustrations are wonderful. Style and sense of humor with a dash of drama. What's next? Broadway? I check every day to see if there's a new story. You have a gift, my dear. Tony

  23. Thanks for the new post. I feel almost as attached to your girls as I am to my own. Such individual personalities and quirks. Love it!

  24. What a fantastic blog! We love the illustrations and stories. Just found the blog yesterday and showing it to my 10 year old daughter. She is a fan of Lil' White now! :)

  25. Wonderful! Terry Golson needs to bring Buffy over to teach Lil'White proper Buff Orpington manners!!!

  26. Sweet, sweet, sweet! Just found your blog last night! I LOVE it to pieces! As of yesterday, I am a proud mama to 3, 9 day old little chicks. 2 New Hampshire Reds and 1 Barred Rock. I had 2 Barred Rock but took one back because it was pecking at one of the little Reds eye all the time. I am excited for this new journey and so looking forward to reading your entire blog and learning from you!

    You are a wonderful inspiration and story teller! :)


  27. Sigh....wonderful as usual. I have missed the girls. Poor little Fern, hopefully one day she will gain the courage to have a face-off with her nemisis. I LOVE the pick of them on the roost, sleeping peacefully!

  28. I love it. I have a similar routine that goes on around here every night.

  29. Just ran into your blog, shared by a friend in a book club. How delightful! I don't have chickens, never lived near a farm, and can't even relate in any way. BUT .... such a fun outlook on everything, so you can already count me in as a return visitor.

  30. Love this post. Your girls are sweet and you are a wonderful chicken-mom. My low totem pole girl, Babe (my only bantam) also waits until it is almost dark before braving the henhouse door. I finally made her a wee next box on the floor for sleeping and laying, since the Big Mean Girls won't let her up on the roosting bar. I plan to get her a couple of bantam pals this spring, so she will have someone small to hang out with.

  31. Poor Fern. My heart goes out to her. Your illustrations are wonderful but you really need to draw some horns on Lil'White and a halo on your own head. Love your chicken stories. xo, Rosemary

  32. What a precious story! Fern is a chicken after my own heart. Bless her!

    I just found your blog via Content in a Cottage. Love it!

  33. Oh what a lovely story! Fern is my favorite and she knows you will save her every night and doesn't worry. I also found your blog through Content in a cottage.

  34. I'm so excited to have found this blog via ContentInACottage! We just started our own backyard flock and look forward to reading more!

  35. Beyond delightful. I love it.

    Thanks for this.

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

    P.S. Check out my chicken-hearted book give away!

  36. great story and awesome art work too!

  37. i agree with everyone here! Great story with great illustrations. You could make a children's book from this. AND I think you should!

  38. There's another fantastic image for a T-shirt, the flock all tucked in on their roost. Words just cant express how much I love your blog! I'm going to post a link on my chicken group discussion board.

  39. Thanks for the entertainment! I love my chickies too and do have an affectionate Dominique that likes to lap sit. She's too heavy now, but used to perch on my arm as well.

    Her name is Miss Kissy Poulet. She loves my hub too!

  40. I just visited your blog yesterday for the first time (thanks to Morgan) and I just love it!! The last picture of your flock tucked in for the night is one of the most adorable chicken pictures I've ever seen. That really should go on a T-shirt, like Morgan said.

    I had 2 "special needs" chickens myself. As a pullet Alice got buried under a metal gate and two years later she survived a hawk attack. Alice never went back to normal again, but she lived a long, good life.
    My other special chicken, Loretta, just passed away a few weeks ago. I own chickens for over 11 years and I've mourned quite a few, but over Loretta I cried like a little kid. She was such a trooper.

  41. Good gracious! Your Fern could have been the cousin of our crazy Lydia. Lydia has taken to roosting on the outside of her nest box because she'd rather not sleep with her mean sisters. Lydia is also very concerned about any songbirds that enter our yard, and chases them with great vigor. She used to shove her face in the corner when she was a chick, to avoid having to look at the Big Scary World. Oh Lydia. I do wish I could make you less afraid.

  42. What a special lady and story teller you are. Such a sweet story. Thank you for posting.