I admit it, when I first decided to raise egg-laying chickens on Rusty Metal Farm, I honestly thought they were good for one thing — fresh eggs. I could not have been more wrong. It turns out, there’s a lot more to chickens than I had ever imagined.
I’ve been on the chicken learning curve ever since welcoming the first clutch to the farm. Twelve years later, I can still be surprised.
For one thing, until I actually had hens, I gave their entire species very little credit for any level of intelligence. I mean, come on, we are talking about a flightless bird with a brain the size of a peanut.
That brain may be small in size, but don’t let that fool you. Because, well, chickens can fool you and have outsmarted me more than once.
Ever been thwarted by a chicken? Not a proud moment.
Take the time I discovered them marching all over my front deck — a place I really did not want to find the other byproduct that comes out of the south end of a northbound hen. So, feeling quite clever and ever-so-handy, I shooed them off and built two gates at the deck’s entry points.
Not five minutes later I heard something on my enclosed back porch — three or four of the chickens had wandered around the house and up the stairs to that porch. This was a simpler fix — so I thought. I again shooed them away and shut the door to the porch. Several minutes later, there was a tapping on my door. They were back, having gained entrance through the cat door on the porch.
Chickens, or at least mine, do not give up easily.
Julia Bayly is a reporter at the Bangor Daily News with a regular bi-weekly column. Julia has been a freelance travel writer/photographer since 2000.
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