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A Chicken in Every Pot

or swing ... whatever ...

By KJ AartilaPublished 14 days ago Updated 12 days ago 3 min read
Top Story - April 2024
A Chicken in Every Pot
Photo by Dani Millington on Unsplash

A Chicken in Every Pot

Our new additions! 3 Barred Rock, 2 Lavender Orpington

First of all, let me say, I am not a fan of birds. I have had many traumatic run-ins with them throughout my life – from Quaker Parakeets (small parrots) to African Greys to Cockatiels – and many more. They have drawn blood and held me hostage. Being held hostage by a Quaker Parakeet is mighty embarrassing, but …

So, when my seven-year-old daughter claimed she wanted chickens, I was a bit hesitant, but decided the eggs and bug control might be worth it. After all, they would just be in their coop, or wandering the yard. They would not require my interaction.

We purchased six Guinea Fowl and six Barred Rock egg layers. I was looking for chickens that would be fairly easy to keep as beginning chicken-owners. I wanted good egg producers, low-maintenance and reasonably friendly for my daughter’s sake.

Guinea Fowl are extremely noisy. Like shockingly so. But they are excellent for pest control.

Two of the Guineas died within the first year by predation – don’t get the white ones, they appear less smart or aware of self-preservation. The three lavenders hung on for a long time, as did the Princess male. He was a gorgeously colored bird, as far as Guineas go, but could often be found atop the garage, squawking loudly over his domain. His name was Popcorn Box – I don’t know why, but it came from the creative mind of a seven year old, and it stuck.

The two males we have left are the descendants of Popcorn Box.

Our Guinea Hens managed to raise three batches of young; nesting in the weeds and leading the young to the coop shortly after they hatched. It was an interesting process to observe. It took the females two or three attempts at nesting before they found success. The males would guard and bring food to the nest at this time for the females, though unreliably. They were not great dads. We kept only a few of the young over time and placed the rest into the care of eager new homes.

As the chickens grew, they became the playmates of my daughter. They had been well-handled from the time they were fuzzy little chicks. They could be found swinging, taking wagon rides, and even sledding in the winter. She thought I should knit them sweaters. I don’t knit. They did not get sweaters.

All the birds were entertaining to watch from the relative safety of the deck, but then, they discovered they could climb the three steps and hang-out with us fun food providers. Or my daughter would bring one to me, begging me to pet it. So, I did. I got used to it after a while, but it’s still not my favorite thing.

My daughter is now seventeen and headed off to college in the fall. Our flock is down to two male Guineas and one older Black Australorp chicken. We have decided to add more chicks again to rebuild our flock of egg-layers. But who will collect the eggs?

Each of the poultry have unique personalities. I didn’t expect that, but it causes them to grow on me. They become pets. I have no desire to use them for meat at the end of their egg-laying life. I’ve discovered I enjoy having them around. At a distance. They're so cute when they’re baby chicks, and they grow so fast! But as adults, they’re beautiful, too.

Thank you for reading! Maybe I am on my way to becoming just an old chicken lady, whose greatest joy in life will be tending to my flock.

Teenage yearsHumanityFamilyEmbarrassment

About the Creator

KJ Aartila

A writer of words in northern WI with a small family and a large menagerie.

My Substack

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Comments (19)

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  • Belle5 days ago

    A really cute story. A friend of mine has also become a chicken mom and it's absolutely accurate. They grow into their own individual personalities, it's adorable! Great work!

  • Shirley Belk7 days ago

    Heartwarming, funny, and beautifully told. Thoroughly enjoyed it!

  • Congratulations for the top story. Lovely chickens 🤗

  • Ameer Bibi10 days ago

    Congratulations for top story 🎉🎉You're on a roll! Your motivation is igniting a path to greatness

  • Back to say congratulations on your Top Story! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • Andrea Corwin 11 days ago

    Forgot to say congrats on TS!!

  • Andrea Corwin 11 days ago

    I loved this story. I love bird watching. Sorry you had bad experiences, but I think these large cluck clucks have cured you. I want to see a photo of one dressed in an outfit that you knitted because you love them so much you learned to knit.🤣🤣🤣🤣

  • Anna 11 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story!

  • Dana Crandell11 days ago

    I enjoyed this one a lot, KJ! Pam and I have friends with chickens. They generously share the eggs with us (their layers are prolific), and we couldn't be more grateful. They have a beautiful variety of hens and each has a name. Pam and I plan to start a flock of our own after we move. Thanks for sharing the fun!

  • Sankar Modak11 days ago

    Nobody will have the courage to add these wonderful chicken pieces to the pot.

  • ROCK 11 days ago

    I have had chickens for over a decade now and only one did I want to whack in the head with a shovel; lucky for him his time came when he attacked a rather timid dog one too many times. His name was Rudy and he was rude as, well, as a cocky arsed rooster could be. I stopped attaching to them after a midnight massacre. I loved the way your story unwound, how your daughter wanted you to knit them a sweater. It's a cosy tale.

  • What do you do when you get sick & cannot bear the thought of chicken noodle soup? (Luckily, I prefer vegetable broth anyway.)

  • I like chics too!

  • Cathy holmes13 days ago

    This is great, old chicken lady. I lol at the title. I guess you're the egg collector now? Good luck.

  • I'm just so happy you wouldn't use them for meat. They're so loving and adorable!

  • Thavien Yliaster13 days ago

    "Being held hostage by a Quaker Parakeet is mighty embarrassing, but …" Sounds mighty hilarious if You're not the one being held hostage by the parakeet. Besides, parakeets have sharp, hard, beaks and sharp little talons. We are all pain aversed creatures. "Two of the Guineas died within the first year by predation – don’t get the white ones, they appear less smart or aware of self-preservation." - I don't know why but I instantly thought of the movie "White Chicks" and the horror movie stereotype where White people always go investigate the spooky, horror, stuff and end up dying early. Curiosity be damned, I like waking up to see today come tomorrow. "It was an interesting process to observe." - I need to watch this narrated by David Attenborough while he and Morgan Freeman sit on rocking chairs on a deck drinking lemonade, eating biscuits and country fried chicken. "She thought I should knit them sweaters. I don’t knit. They did not get sweaters." - My disappointment is immeasurable, but my day has not been ruined. To Instagram where I can find fathenfarms and his cute, widdle, button quails. His adult button quails get sweaters and hat collections. "Each of the poultry have unique personalities. I didn’t expect that, but it causes them to grow on me." - All animals tend to have their own personalities. Our goldfish are especially expressive. The cuties live for well up to 10 years as long as You take care of them well. I think we had several live past ten. When they passed, my dad buried then in our tomato plants. The tomatoes always do excellent because of that. The personalities of animals does make me wonder that if we were to watch our interactions with them from a 3rd person perspective and analyze their behaviors objectively would we truly come to a conclusion that they each have their own personalities, or are we just projecting our own ideas and/or self-images onto them. Ever since I watched a documentary about a man who raised a chimpanzee and taught it sign language, when he watched their time together and went over the sign language objectively he thought, "Did I think he was more intelligent than what I thought because that's what I wanted to see?" Cute story, Keila. I'll be looking forward to more chick updates from You via Facebook.

  • Babs Iverson14 days ago

    Beautiful heartwarming story!!! Loved it!!!💕❤️❤️

  • Well-wrought! Popcorn Box is a perfect name!

  • Jay Kantor14 days ago

    kj - So most of your chick group flew the coop, then. At our small town corner Deli. We often order #17: Combo 'Dump-Soup' small chicken/wit matzo-balls placed in a caldron/wit ladle at the center of the table - fun Easter-Egg eat-read. Happy Holiday,

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