A Good Name is Better to be Chosen Than Riches

Chickens have become an addiction for me since becoming a farmer. Naming the chickens is a very big event with our family. As King Solomon once said, “A good name is better to be chosen than riches.” And so this is the story of my first successful attempt to add chickens to my first flock of three.  

Now my original three chickens were happy hens, but I truly felt that they needed a bigger family. Plus 1 to 2 eggs a day for a family of five are just not enough, so I went in search of how to add new chickens to my flock of three. Reading online I learned a few tips like, keep them separate for a while to make sure they are not sick, give them hiding spots when first introducing them, and even put them there after dark so the other hens will wake up and think, “oh I must have missed you yesterday. Come along, come along.” But the most important tip was if a chicken stays overnight in one location for 48 hours it will return there to roost again and again. After reading up on all the tips, I went looking for hens to buy as I did not want to wait the six to eight months it takes for more eggs. I found four Easter eager pullets that were a few weeks away from laying. It was perfect timing as it was close to Easter weekend. So I bought them as Easter gifts for the kids.

Knowing to keep them separate from my original flock for a while, I put them in a large dog crate on the side of the house until Easter Sunday. It was a challenge to keep them fed and watered without the kids finding them. My foster son told me, “Man, our chickens have gotten really loud lately.” I just nodded my head and kept going. Soon it was time to show the kids their Easter chickens! The kids were excited to have a chicken to call their own.

The first event was naming the chickens. I said proudly, “You can name your chicken what ever you like.” Now as a mom, I should have known this was a dangerous declaration and should have added the mom clause, as long as I deem the name worthy of my flock. Due to this misfortune, the kids began listing names.

The chosen ones:

– Squirmy, because the chicken wouldn’t stop moving. 

– Frank, because the chicken looked like a rooster.  

– Siley, because she made it up.  

– Dora, because she liked the cartoon. 

Oddly enough I was OK with the first three as they were original names that had meaning behind the name, mostly. But Dora was not original enough and I didn’t like naming it after a cartoon character. But my husband reminded me that I had given them the ability to name them on their own accord.  

So later that afternoon on Easter Sunday, I asked my husband to help me clip their wings. (We have to do this or they will fly out of their coop and be lunch for the dogs. We learned by experience.) He began the process before I could get over to help him and he started playing “baseball” with chickens. These chickens were wild and all he could do was swat them to the ground to keep them from flying off. As soon as he picked up one, another would fly out as he opened the crate. Before long, two of the identical gray chickens took off flying across my neighbors’ yard. One landed behind us in the creek bottom and the other right on top of the neighbor’s shed. I was mortified. Here were my sweet retired neighbors sitting with family out on the back porch relaxing on Easter weekend and my crazy chickens come flying into their yard!

 I look over the fence and say, “Well, we got chickens.” 

He grins, “I can see.” 

He proceeds to help me get the one that flew from his shed into his pool! The chicken was nice and clean for her feather cutting. But the one that flew into the creek bottom was gone. I looked at my husband and say, “The one that flew away was Dora.”

We proceed to go about our business and at dusk put the three pullets in the coop as directed by the chicken websites. I get all the kids in bed as a thunderstorm rolls in and put my feet up after a long hard day.

“SWAUK!! SWAUK!!!” She didn’t come back did she?!!? Both my husband and I looked at each other in shock then run outside.  

Sure enough, my Dora, had returned and one of the bird dogs had it cornered. The chicken was able to run away with our diversion, but I couldn’t leave her in the back yard until morning. She would become a snack by then! So off to get a flashlight. I head out in the rain to look for her as my husband stood under the covered porch and held the flashlight. I began to fuss at him to get his flip flops and help me. Next thing I know, I hear, “Hunt that bird, go hunt that bird!” and my sweet bird dog pointed the scared chicken. I was able to get her and bring her up to the porch. Besides being scared, she was in good shape so we clipped her wings and I put her in the coop. As I am walking back towards the house soaking wet from the torrential rain, my dry very comfortable husband says with a grin, “I guess Dora has earned her name. Dora went explorin’!”  I guess the name will work very well after all. 

Published on Jan 27, 2014

Grit Magazine

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