You know how egg cartons say fancy stuff like:
“Collected just for you from cage-free or free-range chickens”?
It gives you this image of happy little hens running around pecking bugs and basking in the spring sunshine.
There’s no doubt that eggs are much tastier and healthier for you when they come from hens who are allowed to scratch and peck fresh bugs.
Free range eggs are higher in vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and beta-carotene.
They are also lower in cholesterol & saturated fat.
Well, that sounds good, and free-range chickens might be good for my health…but they’re bad for my sanity.
You might think those little hens are out there saying to themselves
“Oh what a beautiful day, I’m just gonna stay right here out of everyone’s way & scratch up only the areas that Mom wants me to scratch up. Then I’m gonna run back into the coop & lay eggs in my
cozy little nesting box to make life easier for her. ”
Well, you would be wrong.
I think they are really saying “Mom’s not looking, let’s go poop on everything & scratch up her plants for her! I bet she would love it if we hid our eggs from her too. Let’s see all the different, sneaky places we can lay them!”
Thanks, ladies. You’re too kind.
Because you know what’s awesome?
Deciding that you’re actually gonna dress like a girl for a day & ditch the work boots for Toms…then traipsing through a big, steamy pile of butt mud.
It’s a glamorous life.
I just had to remind myself why I love them:
omelets, quiche, french toast, egg salad, eggs & kale.
Okay chickies, you can stay.
But the fact that they tear up my garden & leave stinky little “surprises” is only part of the problem. It turns out Cletus likes the taste of chicken just as much as we do.
We once came home to half of our flock wiped out thanks to him.
Creek asked him “Why do dat?”, then told us that the chickens went “night, night”.
Just last weekend, Cletus followed us across the road to my in-laws’ house where he
slaughtered played with their flock too…Creek witnessed the whole thing & insisted on spanking Cletus himself, after the hens had been prayed over, of course.
So, clearly free-range isn’t a good idea for us.
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not like we keep our ladies on lock-down in the coop. We let them scratch around when we are working down in the garden, so we can run them out when they get the idea that my little sprouts need to be uprooted.
They also have a small run in their coop so they get lots of sunshine & fresh air every day,and in the spring we plan to build a bigger run for them to enjoy. But in order to maintain my sanity as well as my shoes, they will be in their cozy coop for now.
We had the same problems! (Except for the dog. Somehow our chickens bullied the dogs.) I also had a problem with getting them to return to the coop. One day they just decided to roost on my front porch rails (such a convenient place to have chicken poop). After shutting them up for weeks and trying to retrain them unsuccessfully, I decided to ship them up to my mother’s house at the end of the summer since she’d lost all of her flock to a coon. I sent my small mobile coop up to my Grandma’s and decided this spring we’ll start over with a bigger coop with a large permanent run. They are so fun, but soooo ornery!
They definitely have a mind of their own! Luckily our coop is far enough away from the house that they rarely wander all the way to my porch 🙂 Good luck with your new chicken adventures this spring!