The Good Enough Mothers


| 11/20/2009 3:25:10 PM


Tags: chickens, humor,

A photo of Shirley Rodeo VanScoykMy grandson Jeremy (11) is the chicken guy and on vacation – and I have my instructions, which go something like this: “Nana, Jim Bob is very bossy so don’t turn your back on him – if he goes after you, just hold your hand down flat over his head. Or you can just let him get you, it doesn’t really hurt – and he gets tired of it. Party Girl is laying eggs right on top of Lulu who is broody, she only has a couple of eggs under there, but she’s in a bad mood. Michele and Brenda are co-parenting again, they will take care of their babies, you don’t have to do anything. Just make sure they have food and water inside and outside, only feed them once, and try to keep track of how many babies there are.” You would be thinking right about now that it’s cute that he gave all of them names, and I won’t know which ones he is talking about and that is the gist of my story. And then we can laugh all afternoon about one Nana’s cute chicken antics. But no. That’s not it.

Jeremy, chicks on a horse

I DO know their names, because our whole family watches the flock like it’s the Real Housewives of Honey Brook. Much of our conversation as a family revolves around the drama and pathos of the chicken yard. The chicken’s names were given them because of a characteristic behavior or their social status in the flock, mostly by me.

Chicks and hatching eggs

Our chickens are free range, which sounds like we made a conscious decision based on information regarding humane needs and best practices. In actuality, it means we don’t have and can’t afford a fence that will contain them. Our chickens have been “free range” for twenty five years, never once has one been hit by a car. Occasionally, a rogue hen will refuse the coop they stay in at night. She might start perching in the trees and while we are deciding what and if to do something about that, she usually disappears – owls will pluck her right off the branch as she sleeps. We have had suspicious paw prints in the snow around the coop, and we have found some chicken bodies “cached” in holes around the farm. Bob and Nola, the bulldogs, killed a chicken together when they were puppies, but a few days with the shock collar took care of that. Since we got goats, we don’t see fox foot prints at all, so Ripper thinks that the goats are like watchdogs. It’s a rate of attrition we can live with considering we aren’t very efficient at collecting eggs, so we have piles of babies all the time. I know this manner of chicken keeping flies in the face of all those who want to complicate the simple life, but it works for us.

Eggs in a nest box

rodeo princess
12/2/2009 8:05:34 AM

Thanks, Shannon! I enjoy sharing them!


s.m.r. saia
11/23/2009 8:54:36 AM

Rodeo, thanks for another great story. I really enjoy your writing!





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