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Poultry passion

"Country view" asks you to address subjects on which you are the expert. This month you share your poultry stories.
  • Pet chicken

    Meet Phyllis Diller. Phyllis is a six-month-old White Polish hen. Polish chickens are an old European breed with a knot of feathers on their head.<br>Polish chickens lay white eggs, and are not broody. They weigh 4.5-6 pounds. They have a “V” shaped comb, and are used mostly for showing or pets.<br>Phyllis came in a box of 25 assorted heavy breed chick. She was a bonus fancy chick. From the beginning she was easy to distinguish from the others. As a chick the feathers on her head resembled a wide mohawk hairdo.<br>Phyllis lived in the coop with seven larger Dominique hens. This arrangement was fine when they were chicks, but as the Dominiques grew, they began to bully Phyllis. They especially enjoyed picking at her bouffant hairdo and her feet. The protrusion of feathers on Phyllis' head blocks her vision and limited ability to escape the Dominiques.<br>Phyllis is allowed the run of the barn. She enjoys perching high up in the barn rafters and hay. Her blocked vision makes her easy to catch and pet. She is content not being a victim of the pecking order.<br>I can envision Phyllis sitting in the rafters above the Dominiques with a cigarette holder in her craw, cackling out the one-liners: “Have you heard the one about…”<br>Ellen Allwood, Dunbarton, NH<br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: May 1, 2012
  • Poultry project

    Four years ago, our 11-year-old son, Tyler, started a poultry project, which has brought our family much amusement and taught him valuable life lessons. He raises chickens and ducks. The daily chores in keeping poultry not only build his work ethic and sense of responsibility, but also give him basic business experience. <br>His flock consists of eight Easter egg chickens, three Barred Rocks and three ducks. Each day he makes sure his poultry are well fed, watered, and protected from predators. He gathers the eggs, which have shells in a range of colors from blue to green and rosy beige, and cleans them. Eggs that don't become a weekend family breakfast are snapped up by a bevy of enthusiastic friends who strike a deal with Tyler to get a few dozen. <br>In August 2007, Tyler entered a dozen blue-shelled eggs in the pastel division of Kentucky State Fair egg show. Since there is no junior or kids division, adults and commercial egg farm entries were all competing in the same category. Knowing this, we downplayed the idea of winning. “Remember, it's a learning experience,” we said, heading off disappointment if his eggs didn't place. Imagine our astonishment when we walked up to the egg case to find a blue ribbon with his name on it. We couldn't have been more surprised or proud of our son and his little feathered flock.<br>Dee Lynch, Fisherville, KY<br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: May 1, 2012
  • Addicted to turkeys

    Who would have known being told I couldn't buy ducks would start my undying love affair with turkeys?
    It all started one innocent morning at my favorite feed store. While wondering around planning my next project, I saw two of the cutest Pekin ducks I had ever seen. I swore those sweet little creatures saw me first and quacked out my name. I scooped them up and started to head for the cashier when I remembered my husband's last words. "You never ask me first before you buy anything." Of course he had always said yes and had never said anything about my spending. I had always bought my own feed and time spent with my animals had never been a problem. So, I called. HE SAID NO! Don't ask me why, but he did. I couldn't believe what I had heard. So, I did what any animal lover would do -- I bought a turkey! A Golden Crested Turkey. He wasn't a duck, right? And he was just as cute as the ducks. At this time I had never even been close to a turkey, let alone touched one. (With the exception of putting one in a roaster at Thanksgiving) That was all about to change.
    <br>We've since added two ladies, CC (Cute Chick) and Lady Bird, to the flock. I had no idea these wonderful birds would bring so much joy into our lives. Just seeing them all running to me when I get home from work is a reminder that God has a sense of humor. I am now addicted to turkeys.<br>La Vonda Johnston<br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: May 1, 2012
  • Billy and Lilly

    I was nine or ten years old in 1959, and living with my parents in Scottsdale, Arizona. Somehow I convinced them that I should have a couple of baby chicks as pets. My mother procured a pair of White Leghorn chicks, which I named Billy and Lilly (being certain that they were a boy and a girl). I played with them a lot and they became real pets.<br>My intuition as to their sex proved correct, though it was some time before it became apparent which one was Billy and which was Lilly. As the chickens matured, it became clear that we could not keep them. We lived in apartments with nearby neighbors, and Billy's pre-dawn crowing was not appreciated. I remember how heartbroken I was when my mother and I took them to a butcher in town who gave me fifty cents for the pair.<br>Steve Dickerson, College Place, WA <br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: May 1, 2012
  • Chicken Listen

    My name is Simon. I am almost six years old. I live on a farm. My mom is helping me write this story. When I was four years old, I bought a baby chick from the store. I helped take care of the chick, and I named him Chicken Listen because he listened to me! When he grew up he was a rooster. My mom thinks he was an Old English banty. He was so small. I learned how to catch him, and I loved to carry him around while I played outside. One time he rode in our pickup and seeder. Mom and Dad got upset because he made a mess in the pickup with his droppings! <br>Whenever my dad's cousin would come over to help with chores, Chicken Listen would jump up to attack him, but Chicken Listen was so small it didn't hurt. One time Chicken Listen was missing overnight. The next day we heard him inside some stacked round bales. He had fallen in between bales and couldn't fly straight up to get out on his own. My dad and I helped him out. We let Chicken Listen walk in some wet cement in our garden shed so we would have his tracks forever. Sometimes he got mad at me, and he pecked me and scratched me a few times. Once, when dad was lying under equipment fixing it, Chicken Listen snuck up and crowed into his ear! I had Chicken Listen for one year. One night he didn't come in to the chicken house and we couldn't find him. I tried not to be sad that he was gone. I want to go back to the store next spring and get another baby chick.<br>Simon Carlson, Cherokee, Iowa<br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: May 1, 2012
  • Ducks make a good comedy team

    When my three younger children were in grade school, we became to owners of a pair of Mallard ducks, Mac and Myrtle. There was no doubt Mac though himself the boss, but often Myrtle just sort of went along with his bragging and bossing.<br>For some time there was a low place in our driveway that became a shallow pond after a heavy rain. I was washing dishes and watching a large, white rabbit we had eat clover right outside the window. Mac and Myrtle were floating in the puddle. All at once, Mac's quacking took on an increased intensity and he began swimming toward the edge of the puddle looking back at Myrtle. After a bit he waddled out of the water and started toward the rabbit. He would advance a few feet, then retreat a little all the time telling Myrtle what he was about to do. She continued to float and deliver intermittent bored quacks. This continued until Mach got directly behind the clover-munching rabbit. He then stretched his neck out as far as it would go, tiptoed closer and bit the rabbit on his tail.<br>This was a big rabbit and rabbits have strong hind legs. He kicked and Mac went rolling across the yard. He got up, fluffed his feathers and started quacking at the top of his lungs as he ran towards Myrtle to tell how he had been mistreated and back towards the rabbit swearing revenge. He never got within kicking distance again. Eventually he jumped back in the puddle and swam circles around and around Myrtle continuing to vent his anger. She added a few bored quacks and the rabbit went back to eating clover.<br>Charlotte Anne Smith, Nowata, OK<br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: May 1, 2012
  • Eglu Cube

    Ever since I was a kid, I've always loved chickens. My grandparents kept a small flock in their back garden. I always knew I would have a flock of my own one day. Two years ago after moving to Plum Island, Massachusetts from Los Angeles, my dream of owning a small flock became a reality. One day while cruising through the web I came across a company called Omlet and their wonderfully funky chicken coop called the Eglu and the Eglu Cube. The Cube wasn't available in the States until recently, so I went with the original Eglu and was on my way to keeping a small flock of four "Gingernut Rangers" a cross between a Leg Horn and a Rhode Island Red.<br>Just this year the Cube became available in the States, so I set about securing one for myself. I sold my original Eglu, along with the girls, and waited for the call telling me my Cube was ready for pick up. My new flock consists of one Buff Orpington and two Silver Laced Wyandottes. <br>Mark Williams, Plum Island, Massachusetts<br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: May 1, 2012
  • False expectations

    When we moved to our farm in Hortense, Georgia three years ago, we wanted chickens! As a matter of fact, we didn't think it would even feel like a farm without them. I also had some ideas that proved to be wrong. <br>I relished the idea of how country-like it would be to wake up to the roosters' crowing every morning, being an early riser that I am. I had envisioned the children making money by selling eggs, which would be in abundant supply. I also knew chicken wire was rather inexpensive and therefore expected a low cost investment.<br>Who says that roosters crow when the sun comes up? They begin at 4:00 am...everyday...and are still crowing at sunrise. It took a while to get used to all that racket. It reminded me of living next to a train track.<br>Why did I think the children could earn extra money selling surplus eggs? There are no extra eggs. It is not unusual to be buying a dozen or two at the grocery store during the times the hens molt. Also, any changes to their environment will inhibit production such as cleaning out their laying boxes. <br>A hen house with laying boxes can be quite expensive. Although chicken wire is cheap, it doesn't keep dogs and other predators out. Also, chickens need a place to lay their eggs and lumber is expensive! <br>Even though our initial expectations were not met, we have grown to love our chickens and they are truly our poultry pets. My daughters have named them all and treat them as well as they do their horses, sheep, dogs, llama, goat and cats. It really wouldn't feel like a farm to us without our chickens.<br>Sheryl Trammell, Hortense, Georgia<br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: May 1, 2012
  • George

    Our daughter, Destiny, last year decided that she wanted some baby chicks. We agreed and bought some Cornish Crosses for her to raise and to show in our county fair her first year. Over the course of the year we lost several of the chickens, but we had one chicken that managed to survive. She named it George. We had been told that Cornish Crosses don't normally live to a year of age because of over eating and such. George, we discovered, had a major personality. We started to notice that when we would go out to feed George that her food dish was still pretty full. What we came to realize is that this chicken had started to ration its own food. We also came to learn that George really wasn't a George but a Georgette. Destiny had went out to feed her and noticed she had laid an egg. <br>My husband took a job in Wisconsin in May and we moved in June. We decided that George needed to come with us. George is happy as a lark in Wisconsin. It's a hoot watching her follow and run after the kids trying to keep up with them. When they head for the house, she does too, and tries to come in with them. We couldn't imagine not having George around. She is such a source of entertainment and fun.<br>Melissa West, Woodville, WI<br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: May 1, 2012
  • Imprinting

    For my son's science class experiment one year, we decided to do imprinting. Is it true that a baby animal thinks the first thing it sees is actually its mother? Our ducks had been laying eggs, so we purchased an inexpensive incubator and took the eggs inside. My son was present when each of the eggs hatched and was the first to pick up the babies and show them how to eat and drink. It turned out it was true -- they thought he was their mother! They would follow my son all around the barnyard and ignore their biological parent. It was an awesome experiment and fun for the whole family! Everyone at the school enjoyed seeing "Marc's babies" when he brought the baby ducks in for his science project. <br>Ernie and Becky Ramsey, Griffith, IN<br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: May 1, 2012
  • Myth or fact?

    Myth or fact: Roosters only crow early in the morning? Eleven year old Ryley Kumm and his family can tell you that is definitely a myth! Ryley and his family, who live near Osmond, Nebraska, greatly enjoy their poultry pets. One of the pleasures of living in the country is the quietness, which allows the opportunity to hear roosters crowing all day.<br>Ryley was lucky enough to have 3rd and 4th grade teachers that hatched chicks, ducks, and geese in their classrooms during school; thus, Ryley's poultry flock began! One hen is so tame that Ryley's younger brother, Dalton, took the hen to school and showed three different classes!<br>Roosters, on the other hand, aren't always so friendly. Luckily the Kumms have a neighbor who also loves chickens. She has taken three handy-down roosters off the Kumm's hands. She even named the first one after Ryley. One of her roosters even roosts for the night on a tractor steering wheel!<br>August of 2009 was so exciting, as at last, three chicks were hatched by two hens. The Kumms had been waiting anxiously for over a year for the clucks to be successful!<br>Sherry Kumm<br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: May 1, 2012
  • Our gang

    King, Prince, Irving, Marvin, Sammy, Jewls, and Ralph. This is our gang. They're a noisy, messy bunch of fellas that give us laughter all day long.<br>King is the king. I believe he won the right while they were all still chicks. I have yet to see any of them challenge him. He was the first to hatch, the first to leave they're box, and the first to climb a tree. Needless to say they all followed him.<br>Prince is King's favorite. He's right hand man so to speak. Prince is never farther away from the King than a wingspan. I've only seen King get angry with him once. That was when I fed them fresh corn on the cob and King did not want to share.<br>Irving is my favorite. He's gentle and never fights. He loves to follow me around and will sit by my chair. Even now as I write this, Irving is by my side.<br>Marvin, Sammy, and Jewls are your typical followers, but a lovely chorus when they sing.<br>Then there's Ralph. He's what I call the hit man. You never turn your back on Ralph. He won't hurt you, but he likes toes and will pounce when given the chance. He's the runt of the gang, and I think he tries to make up for it by being over zealous with protection duties.<br>They are our security system. Nothing gets on our property with out them telling us. Not even Tedd, our resident black bear. I believe they made a deal with our dog Ceaser, a saint. He too is part of the gang. I'm not sure if they think they are dogs, or he thinks he's a rooster, but he loves them. They take over his dog house during the heat of the day, and share his food. At night they sleep in the trees above his house, and he watches over them as they watch over us.<br>Teresa Tuomey, Grottoes, VA <br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: May 1, 2012
  • Pampered poultry

    Our adventures in chicken farming began two years ago when our daughter was in the first grade. She was so excited when a local farmer brought in an incubator and some fertilized eggs for them to hatch. When they finally hatched, she was ecstatic. They kept the tiny chicks around for about a week until the farmer returned for his new flock. By this time our daughter was hooked. <br>Seeing the spark of interest was all it took for my husband to jump on board. With no real plans to go by, he constructed the cutest little chicken shed I ever saw. Having no real idea what we were getting ourselves into we set out one afternoon to collect our new flock. After a 30-minute road trip with four grown chickens, there were feathers, chicken poop, and even eggs all over the place! <br>Those four chickens became some pampered pets. Our daughter sat reading stories to them every day after school. She loved to hand feed them and carried them around everywhere. She got to where she would let them out and they would hunt for worms in the garden while she read. <br>Unfortunately, that first winter we lost Erin's favorite bird. She was upset for a while, but was excited when we purchased 12 baby chicks the next spring from our local farm store. Today we have a flock of 16 birds. While they don't hold the same appeal to our daughter as they once did, she still enjoys them and we all like the fresh eggs.<br>Kristie Burdiss, Port Jefferson, Ohio<br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: May 1, 2012
  • Pekin ducks

    My two Pekin ducks are the greatest. I've had one for over three years and the other just over a year. They are super adaptable. When living in Florida, they were at my barn living with my horses. They lived in a 12x12 stall with shavings. Everyday for lunch I'd bring a Burger King salad and I would chop up some lettuce, carrots and tomatoes, and get the cottage cheese out of the fridge and we'd eat lunch. <br>I would volunteer them at shelters and hospitals. A duck can bring on a huge smile from kids with cancer, to kids with no family. They have moved with me from Florida to Texas. They traveled amazingly. Every few hours we'd stop and let them out into a large dog cage with no bottom so they could eat some bugs and drink some water. Now that we live on 14 acres, I let them out in my backyard daily and watch them run around. They have their own two swimming pools that they love! They are the best natural pest control. They eat every type of bug and even snakes that are under two feet long. I wouldn't trade them for the world. <br>Alexandra Konefal, Chesapeake, Virginia <br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: May 1, 2012
  • Putt putt

    It started out with us getting 10 one-day-old peeps on March 16, 2009. I was so excited! We had a little place all set up for them in the basement. The first night I was down there for hours just watching them. The next morning when the alarm went off I raced downstairs and I was heartbroken to find one of my new little babies had died during the night. Sadly, we lost another one the next night. <br>On August 15th, as I was checking the chickens, I noticed that one had something sticking out of her behind area. I brought her into the basement and Russ and I cleaned her up.<br>I immediately started scouring the Internet for what could possibly be wrong with her. It was prolapse. One lady told me to try Orajel and Preparation H. I won't go into details, but I spent time every night and every morning putting Orajel on her butt, pushing it back in and then putting on the Preparation H. <br>She was my basement patient for over two weeks and at the end of two weeks something big and nasty fell off her rear end and then she looked normal. Her new name was Putt Putt Chicken Butt, but we call her Putt Putt for short.<br>Liz Meyer, Monticello, WI<br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: May 1, 2012
  • Tina

    Back in February of 2002, no one would have considered that the mere act of rescuing a frostbitten chicken could bring such joy to our family. Valentina (or Tina, as she fondly became known as) began her life story with us as a rescue off a busy roadway. She wandered into a car wash just a day before Valentine's Day. Two co-workers and I heard about her plight and drove to pick her up on our lunch hour. <br>How Tina wound up such a long distance from a farming community was beyond anyone's imagination, but she was such a beautiful black hen, so friendly, but also very needy. She not only had a broken wing, but two frostbitten toes which eventually dropped off, and one foot became unable to grasp a roost upon healing. I thought of how to present her to my husband of two years, then it came to me. "Happy Valentine's Day, Dear!" And that is how Tina became part of the family!<br>All good things do come to an end, and it was with much sadness that I mourned Tina's passing. She drifted away one December night in 2008. We didn't know her breed, we didn't know her age, we didn't know where she started her life. We only know how much we loved her, how much joy she brought us. <br>Monica Sackett, Cedar Springs, MI<br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: May 1, 2012
  • Thomas and Essie

    My husband and I decided chickens were great and all, but we wanted to mix it up a little bit. During a visit to our local swap meet, we decided to raise a few turkeys for meat for the holidays. That day we carried home four day-old Bourbon Red turkey poults in a brown paper bag tucked under my coat to keep them warm. We chose Bourbon Reds because they were a heritage breed that were know for hardiness and flavorful meat, even if they lack a little bit in full-grown size. <br>Spring soon flowered into summer, and the little poults we brought home in a brown paper bag were not so little anymore. Considering we would probably want to raise turkeys every year, we decided to keep a male and a female from our little flock to see what happened the next spring. We chose a male and female, and the other two went to the butcher. Our "breeding stock" Thomas and Esmeralda were christened. <br>On that Valentine's Day we had the unexpected experience of observing "turkey love" for the first time on our farm. Being turkey reproduction amateurs, it took us quite a while to figure out what all the strutting and feather fluffing, and general awkwardness was all about. But it didn't take us long to figure out that in a few weeks we might have turkey eggs at our house.<br>As we guessed, a few weeks later we heard Essie making a loud call, somewhat like the hens when they crow over a laid egg. Sure enough there was the larger, pointier brown speckled egg laying in a little kicked up area of straw in the turkey pen. It was soon joined by 14 others over a period of a couple of weeks. Essie ended up being broody for a long time, and at the end of May hatched three baby chicks, which she then proceeded to fiercely mother.<br>I did not think when I first started working with poultry that I would ever get attached to birds as pets. But as you can see, I have become rather attached and amazed by these beautiful, amusing birds.<br>Sarah E. O'Hara, North Manchester, IN<br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: May 1, 2012
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