Meet the Flock—November & December 2017

Here’s a shot of Carmen Maranda the big Cuckoo Marans hen having a meditative moment in the chicken run.

Here’s my photogenic little bantam frizzled Cochin roo, Paul!

Millions of Mistreated Chickens—The Truth About Meat Chickens

“You don’t have to be a vegan to wonder if it is right to put another entire species in perpetual pain in order to satisfy a craving for chicken salad and deviled eggs.” – Andrew Lawler, “Why Did the Chicken Cross the World?”

There have been a few readers who have taken umbrage to my posts about the mistreatment of chickens.  And I get where they’re coming from.  It can be distressing to navigate to my blog looking for pictures of cute Hipster Hens happily pecking and playing in my coop, and instead get hit over the head with stories about millions of chickens being mistreated.

But here’s the deal—if you scroll down to the bottom of this page you’ll find Randy’s Chicken Blog's mission statement.  There you’ll find these declarative sentences: “My chickens are really cool.  All chickens are really cool. The majority of chickens being raised for meat or egg production, in spite of their inherent coolness, are treated cruelly. You can help make changes by your purchasing habits. Educate yourself! Read labels! Check company websites!”  I think it would be unethical to blog about chickens without also discussing the issues surrounding the treatment of commercial chickens. While it’s great that we love our backyard hens, we can’t lose sight of the fact that the majority of the chickens alive in the world right now have miserable lives.  It is important that we chicken appreciators stay informed about the situation because we do appreciate chickens and we recognize them to be intelligent, sentient creatures who have the capacity for joy, but also the capacity to suffer.

A Carton of Eggs - Part 4 - Locally Laid

An egg carton is great for keeping a dozen eggs grouped together, and for providing eggs stability and cushioning in transport.  Beyond that, an egg carton is a very useful marketing tool.  All that blank space can be filled up with information, promotional messages, and art.  This is the fourth in a series of posts about the stuff printed on specific egg cartons. 

Also in this series:

For this post, I went to a nearby supermarket and bought a carton of Locally Laid eggs.  In my own coop, the Hipster Hens were in the midst of their autumnal molt and egg production was incredibly low.  Given that we had some house guests who expected their morning scramble, I really did need to buy some eggs anyway.  And in buying the eggs I also got a carton to blog about. So, I killed two birds with one stone, right?  Please don’t tell the Hipster Hens I was talking about killing birds.

Locally Laid is a Minnesota-based, family owned and run egg company that has recently expanded into Iowa and Indiana.  Jason and Lucie Amundsen started Locally Laid Egg Company in 2012 to provide pasture-raised eggs to local markets and as proponents and practitioners of “Middle Ag”.  My backyard flock of Hipster Hens currently tops out at 26 birds.  Cal-Maine Foodsthe nation's largest egg producer, the last time anybody counted, had around 26 million hens.  Locally Laid has around 1800 laying hens.  Middle Ag.  Get it?

Winter Non-Chickens

Not all of our feathered friends are chickens.  We’ve got a collection of birdfeeders by our house that draw in birds both winter and summer.  Last spring I posted pictures of the spring migrators that stop by our feeders on their way north in a post I called "Spring Non-Chickens".  In this post I'm sharing some pictures of some of the year-round residents that show up at our feeders in the wintertime.  

Of course in the winter, we don't have the variety of bird species showing up for their sunflower seed or suet snacks that we see in the spring, but quantity perhaps makes up for diversity.  The feeders are busy from sunup to sundown, so we don't have to wait to be entertained - all we have to do is look out the window anytime we want!

Here are a few examples of what we see:

This is a female purple finch enjoying a sunflower seed.  We get both purple and gold finches in huge flocks in the winter.  The purple finch is, of course, really hard to tell from the house finch.  Is the bird in this picture really a purple finch or is it a house finch?  I'm going with purple, but I could be wrong!

Meet the Flock - September & October 2017

Marissa the Cream Legbar sez “Braaaaak! Don’t take that shot! If you hold the camera that close I’ll look RIDICULOUS!”

Here’s a nice shot of Paulette and Marissa the Cream Legbar hens from about a year ago – they were just starting to lay eggs!

Paulette could be the world’s most molty chicken in this shot! She only has two tail feathers left, but she’s really, really proud of them!

Chickens from Outer Space?

I’ve always been interested in ancient sites and have been fortunate to be able to visit a few of them over the course of my life.  Not unsurprisingly, I often meet others who share my interest in timeworn architecture and ancient civilizations when I visit these sites.  I also bump into another whole subset at these old places—those searching for sites imbued with “secret, ancient power”.  Visit Stonehenge, Delphi in Greece, or Machu Picchu and you’ll run into them, alone and in groups, in shorts and hiking boots or robes and beads, seeking healing, omens, visions, or doorways into other dimensions. 

Betty the Transgender Chicken – What Happened Next

If you’re a regular follower of the blog, you know the story of Betty the transgender chicken, and you may be wondering what happened after I had to remove Betty from the coop for a second time.  If you’ve just stumbled across this post you’re probably wondering what in the world I’m talking about.  In a sentence, Betty is a hen who spontaneously transformed into a rooster and was rejected by the flock.  Yes, really.  Hens changing into roosters is a real thing.  For the whole scoop, go back and read the original post, which is here.  A thumbnail recap follows here, and will segue into the Betty update: