Thinking about getting backyard chickens?
I'm sure you have done the research on breeds, care, feeding, and housing. You probably know more about chickens that you ever thought you would. Here are some things that you might not know.
Chickens have huge personalities. Each hen is a bit different than her flock mates and while they may have similarities, no two birds are alike.
Chickens are entertaining to watch. I chuckle every time I see them run across the yard, with their little heads bobbing back and forth. When they take baths in the dirt they flop around as if they are having a medical emergency. (Maybe that shouldn't be funny, but it is!) You can toss out a slice of tomato or bread and watch them play keep away with it.
Chickens can provide stress relief. I have spent hours in the yard watching my flock and daydreaming. When I come home after a stressful day at work and let the chickens out of their run and into the yard I can just feel the stress start to leave me. It is hard to stay mad, sad, or grouchy while watching chickens do their thing.
Not all chickens like the same treats and they can be finicky. Some of my girls love lettuce and spinach, others act like they would rather starve than pick at a head of lettuce. One of my chickens, Livingston the Easter Egger, gets very defensive when it comes to yogurt. She is normally my most mild-mannered hen, but when there is a cup of yogurt around, she will peck at her sisters and chase them away.
Everything tastes better to a chicken if it is hand fed to them. My hens will completely ignore dandelions in the yard, but if I pick a dandelion leaf and hold it out to them, it is instantly a gourmet treat. The same goes for grass and other weeds.
Your flock will know you and look forward to seeing you. There's a chance that they are looking more forward to any treats you may have, but that's neither here nor there. When my girls are roaming the yard, as soon as they hear the back door open, they come running to see what I have for them and to say hello. They follow me around the yard, it's like I have my own little feathered posse.
Chickens are trainable. Okay, maybe not quite trainable. They won't follow a command like a dog, but they can be influenced. We have a problem with Creeping Charlie in our yard. If I sit down in the yard to pull the Creeping Charlie the chickens will come over to see what I'm doing. If I act like I'm scratching in the dirt for something, they pick up on that and start scratching in the same spot. Let me tell you, chickens can really get under those long creeping roots. They have become my partners in eradicating the Creeping Charlie from the yard.
You will talk to your chickens. Right now, you may think that you would never become that kind of crazy chicken person, but you will. And guess what? They will talk back. If you spend enough time with them, they will softly sing to you and coo when they are calm and content. They will cluck at you while they are foraging and they will squawk at you when they are annoyed.
After you start talking to your chickens, it is only a matter of time before you start really anthropomorphizing them. In my mind Orpy, my Buff Orpington, has all kinds of thoughts and reasons for acting the way she does. "Oh, look. Orpy is taking that grape away from Stormy because Stormy hogged all of the mealworms yesterday." "Orpy really doesn't like Audrey. It must be because Audrey has such beautiful feathers. Orpy is such a jealous bird!"
Most of all, until you actually have your own small flock of backyard chickens, you will not know how much they will mean to you. Maybe you won't be as much of a crazy chicken lady as I am, but your flock will touch you in some unexpected way.