When Your Hen Dies



I dedicate this post to the memory of Snowball the Silkie Rooster, whose good and happy life in my coop ended just last week.  And to Arlene, Emily, Courtney, Angitou, Buffy, Willow, Veronica, and Charlie - all of whom passed within the last 12 months.  It’s been a tough year for the flock—and for me.

Arlene
There was a hen who lived in a coop in your backyard.  Now she’s gone.  Her death surprised you, but what surprised you even more is the sense of emptiness and sadness you feel after her passing. 

There’s an unpleasant fact about keeping chickens that you probably didn’t think about when you first brought home your little peeping bundles.  That someday they would die.  Nobody likes to talk about it, but it’s something that you can’t ignore.  If you have chickens, you’ve no doubt become attached, and sooner or later you’ll have to deal with their deaths.

A Short History of Organic Eggs


You’re pushing your shopping cart through the produce section of your favorite grocery store.  You remember that you’re almost out of eggs, so you steer toward the refrigerator case with all those egg cartons.  You care about the food you and your family eat and you want eggs that have been raised in a natural, sustainable and humane manner.  So, you grab the eggs with the green and white USDA Organic label and put them in your cart next to the organic lettuce and hormone-free milk.  You feel secure knowing that these eggs have been vouched for by an agency of the US government and you’re satisfied that with your purchase you’re supporting farmers who raise their hens in a sustainable and humane way. 

Did you make the right choice?  Perhaps not.  The USDA Organic label more than likely doesn’t mean what you think it means.  To get the real scoop on organic eggs and other organic food, follow me back in time to the ancient past of my youth.

Randy’s Chicken Blog Celebrates Two Years



Last year as I celebrated the first birthday of Randy’s Chicken Blog, I announced that the blog had just achieved 10,000 views.  Now, a year later I’m just shy of 30,000 views and am happy to have readers all over the US, as well as a variety of other countries.  Some of you are faithful followers of my Facebook page, but many folks have read a single post on a single topic and found that post through Google.  I love my followers of course—each and every one of you, but I’m also happy to provide information to those people trying to get an answer to one nagging question.

There have been, if you include this one, 132 posts.  All of them are always available in the archives, and they have covered every aspect of a chicken’s life from hatch to death.  Some posts stray off topic a bit to talk about the woods around the coop and the wild plants and animals that live there, or a few good books about chickens that I’ve read, or the treatment of chickens on farms, or well…life, the universe, and everything!

The subjects of the most popular posts cover that same wide range, from stories about specific chickens to information about egg cartons.  Here are thumbnails of the ten most popular posts from the past year with links to the actual posts.  Thanks for reading them and stay tuned for more!


On Halloween Day last year, I posted this article about the mystery of the unusual chickens in South America.  It seemed to me that it would fit with Halloween if I gave it an outer-space theme. Paulette the Cream Legbar modeled as the alien chicken.

Meet the Flock Roundup—January & February, 2018




Here’s Squawky the Speckled Sussex pullet. Not only is she pretty, but she’s got to be the world’s friendliest chicken. She makes it hard for me to walk through the chicken run because she’s always right there with me – right underfoot!

Coop - A Year of Poultry, Pigs and Parenting – A Book by Michael Perry



I picked up this gem by Michael Perry eight years after its publication.  Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention—I don’t know how I missed this book for so long.  Not only is it a first-rate and compelling book, but I feel like Perry is speaking directly to me.  Needless to say, his other books are now on my reading list. When I first cracked open the cover, I was expecting a story about chickens.  That’s not what it’s about. To be sure, chickens are minor characters in this book, but it’s a memoir—so it’s really about Michael Perry.  Perry tells us the story of his first year in an old house on a Wisconsin acreage with his new wife and daughter, with frequent flashbacks to his childhood on a Wisconsin dairy farm amidst an “obscure fundamentalist Christian sect”.  Along the way he discourses on home birth, milking cows, slaughtering pigs, building a chicken coop, and even blowing one’s nose using a technique he calls the “farmer snort”.  And ultimately, perhaps he offers us his perspective how one should live one’s life.

Are Chickens Dinosaurs?

Composite picture: T. rex courtesy of the ever generous public domain - Emile the rooster courtesy of Emile the rooster

Here are some statements for your consideration:

  •    “Tyrannosaurus rex was really just a big chicken.”
  •    “Chickens are the closest living relative to Tyrannosaurus rex.
  •    “Chickens are directly descended from T. rex.”
  •   "Chickens are dinosaurs"
Lately I’ve been running into declarations like these a lot, and I’ve got to say that I wasn’t buying most of them.  None of these statements, it seemed to me, had the ring of truth.  So, I decided it was time to get to the bottom of the dino/chicken thing and find out if there really is some sort of connection between dinosaurs and chickens and if so, what it is. And, after some research, here we go:

Where Did Chickens Come From? The Domestication of the Chicken


Consider this:  You’re an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, you want to let everybody know about your war exploits and plunder, and social media hasn’t been invented yet—what should you do?  Well, if you’re Thutmose III, the Napoleon of ancient Egypt, you inscribe all of your immodest assertions right onto one of the walls of the great Karnak temple for all people to see.   Fortunately for Thutmose III, inscribing information into stone has given it a bit more permanency than a blog entry or a Facebook post might have.  People have been looking at those inscriptions for over 3000 years, and the “Annals of Thutmose III” are still there on the ancient walls of the ruined Karnak temple in Luxor, Egypt for all to read.