Posted by: poofergirlsperspective | September 14, 2007

teenage chicks?

I am not sure that every farm that has chickens is blessed with teenage chicks but our farm is … 

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During my first summer at the farm I have done some observing of the chickens.  They are really quite fascinating.  I used to be much more afraid of them but now they are more intriguing then scary.  Ok, they are still scary, but much less then they were before. 

When a new chick is hatched out of their small little shell into the great big world they are very fragile. Mama hens with chicks are in a separate area to protect them both.  Mama hens are very good at what they do … they feed them before they feed themselves, and they protect their new chicks very well … they keep a close eye on them and they are rarely out of their sight.  They communicate with them too … they have different sounds for different things.  Amazing how that works.  There are sounds for “food!” and “get back here little chick!” when they scatter a little farther then they should while outside enjoying the sunshine.

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So, Mama hens are good at what they do … until … until they decide not to be!  All of a sudden they are done being Mom’s … as if to say “I have had enough of this Mom business!”.  You can tell it is happening when they start to fight their chicks for food, or when they run away from them if they get too close.  It appears that when they are done they are done.  When this happens the chicks are left to fend for themselves.  It isn’t safe for them to have a big hen picking on them so the hen goes back with the other hens in the chicken coop and the chicks are on their own.  If a hen leaves her chicks early enough there is often another hen that takes them under her wing … literally.  If a hen leaves her chicks when they are a little bit older, say like when they are adolescents … then nobody will take them!  Mama hens are smart like that. 

One of my chores in the evening is to put the chickens to bed.  They pretty much do this on their own; I just need to shut all the doors when they are all in to protect them through the night.  When chicks have a Mom they are mostly with them and so if Mom heads in, so do the chicks.  That is unless they don’t have a Mom … like a few batches we have had where their Mom left them.  I call them my “mother-less teenager chicks”. 

I have worked with teenagers for much of my life; almost half of it and it is one of my greatest joys.  When I left my job to become a farm wife I knew that I would miss my work with them … but I never imagined we would end up with some in chicken form.  It may appear that I spend entirely too much time alone with my thoughts since I can see teenagers in young chickens but I swear to you that they are like little teenagers.  I didn’t really make the connection until one night while I was out putting chickens to bed and I noticed 3 little roosters still out in the pasture.  It was almost dark and they were way out there … I knew that I would be waiting awhile. 

So I waited and waited.  I contemplated naming them because all good farm girls (at least this one) name the animals but I had so many names of naughty teenager boys running through my head from my past work that I didn’t know what name to give them!  It was fun to reminisce though about all the fun times that I had working with teenagers … I loved the ones that were just a little bit naughty … those that liked to push the rules but barely, so that they wouldn’t get caught.  I was always a sucker for a good excuse and a charming smile from a teen.  Those were good times. 

I was lost in thought and so I barely noticed that my farm animal teenagers were slowly making their way in.  Finally, one gangly little rooster at a time made their way in for the night … but not before stopping for a moment here and there to eat some grass or look for a bug.   It was as if they were going to stay out until the last possible second, when it is still light enough for them to jump up the steps but dark enough to think that they are staying out late.   I swear that they were mocking me as I stood there waiting patiently for them to saunter in from their time outside and hop up into the room.  Yep … I said saunter … teenage boys saunter and so did those little roosters.  It wasn’t the last time that I had to wait for them either … but it was that night that I referred to them as my “mother-less teenager roosters without a curfew”.

Dealing with teenager chickens is a far cry from the real ones, but it was a fun reminder of what I was blessed with all those years working with them. 

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Responses

  1. I understand. I still miss the teenagers in the group home where I only spent 2 years, and they were just like your little roosters! But I have my smaller versions between 2 and 4 years every day to continue to challenge and delight me:)

  2. Very interesting and descriptively original “chicken” talk”

  3. veteran haymaker … you learn “chicken talk” pretty well when that is the only thing that you have to talk to all afternoon. :)

  4. Is there any such thing as “chicken discipline” or do you let your teenage chickens rule the roost?

  5. Jeri … Ha. If I wasn’t so stinkin’ afraid of those birds I would pick ’em up and put them to bed! … so they do sorta rule the roost. Oh well … they are only teens so long and then they become soup so it really isn’t such a bad pay off. Ha. Plus, It isn’t like I am raising disrespectful teen chickens that will become uncooperative and disrespectful adults or anything so I suppose that my lack of “chicken discipline” is ok.

  6. […] running around the farm for hours and know where to head when the sun starts to set.  Remember my teenage chickens?, they knew where to go, they just didn’t want to go when I wanted them to!  So the last […]

  7. […] days of putting chickens to bed have ended for the season and it seems a little odd.  My job of keeping them safe for the night […]


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