Saturday, June 23, 2012

You MUST read this book

I can't remember if I blogged about this book or not.  And if I did, it certainly deserves another blog.  If you have a small flock of chickens or are thinking about getting a small flock for your back yard, you really MUST read this book.

And while it's more of a story than an instructional book, I found it to be the most accurate representation of what the small back yard chicken owner will face.  I also read more instructional books including Raising Chickens for Dummies and Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens.  Both are good books with lots of useful information and I'd encourage you to read one of them as well.

But I feel as though the information sourced for the instructional books, was from people with larger flocks.  And let's face it, those with larger flocks, say 15-20 chickens, and especially those with roosters, have a WHOLE different dynamic than those with 2-5 hens.  And expecially, those who consider those hens "pets".  Which you all know that I most certainly do.

For example, the instructional books tell you to introduce new chickens to your existing flock by tucking them into the hen house after dark and the older hens will simply wake up and think, hmmm, I don't remember you but okay, let's go get something to eat.  Well, that does NOT work when you have two hens.  And not only do I speak from experience, I have the scars to prove it.

I had the babies out in the run (but in their own pen) with the big girls for 6 weeks or so and tried to tuck one on the roost next to Coco and she attacked me.  She really went for me.  And that's just not like her.

Now maybe if I had a bigger house and two roost bars, one high for the senior birds and a lower roost for the junior birds.  But who knows.  My point is, I'm sure that technique works if you have 20, 30 or 100 birds.  But it does NOT work if you only have two.

My husband keeps telling me that I should write a book about my experience raising chickens.  I'm afraid that it would scare off those considering getting chickens.  But then I have had some wonderfully funny incidents too.

Just yesterday we had a service guy out at the house.  And he had to go into the back yard.  I said I'd go with him because my hens were out.  He stood there with this dumbfounded look on his face as though he had never seen chicken out of a "bucket" before.   Would you like to feel one, I asked?  They are incredibly soft.  But of course, when I called them, they ignored me.  My chickens always come when I call them.  You've seen a video of this.  I know they recognize him as a stranger and are ignoring me because they don't trust him.

And I don't want to go chase them because, well, I don't and the yard is muddy from the sprinklers.  So I disappear into the garage and return with the tub of giant meal worms.  Well, THAT got their attention and then next thing you knew, I had them all lined up at my feet staring up at me with this "Oh, yes please" look on their faces.

But back to the book.  I loved Martin's writing style and sense of humor.  I feel like we'd be best friends if we were co-workers comparing chicken stories.  It's an easy read and easy to find on sale at or other used book sources as it's been out for several years.  You might even check with your local library.  But I do think you will all enjoy it.


  1. Sounds like a great read! Love your story about the girls not coming when you call them (when a stranger is around). That's happened to me also! Meal-worms are always a great thing to have around--especially if you need them to go back into the coop when they're not ready :)

    1. Oh, yea. They LOVE their meal worms. The only time that didn't work was a warm afternoon and they had found a shady spot with damp,loamy soil and all four were having this marathon dirt bath. I showed them the meal worms and they were not buying. I had to individually pick up each hen, who felt like they weighed about 10lbs with all that dirt, and transfer them back to their run. They were NOT happy but I had to leave and don't leave them out unattended.

      The funny thing is about a week later, my neighbor made some comment about my naughty hens so he must have heard me talking to them while transferring them back to their run. I'd better be careful what I say out there.

  2. Sounds like a great book.
    How are you progressing with choosing more hens?
    I am very excited at the moment as I am collecting my three Dominique hens on Friday. I have been waiting for them since March and finally they have three, two month old hens that are ready for me. I can't wait but am slightly nervous too. I know the theory, just need to put it into practice.

    1. I haven't done much more work on more hens. I'm still researching whether or not I can eat my hens eggs. The latest I've been told is that this bacteria is in the shells and not in the eggs. Meaning that MY eggs are okay to eat. And if I were to introduce new hens, their shells would be contaminated too as they would all lay in the same nests.

      Oh, the more I research this, the more complicated it becomes. I'll keep you posted.