Tag Archives: hens

An Evening Stroll Around the Farm

DSC_0173On my way out to the compost pile tonight with my kitchen scraps, I stopped to say hello to the pullets, who are grazing out on one of the nicest spots on the farm. They are just starting to lay in earnest; once a few of them really get going, it’s like the rest get the hint. We collected 24 eggs two days ago, 35 yesterday, 48 today. It will be 150 or so before we know it. That’s good–we’ll certainly need them this summer, if Memorial Day is any indication–over the weekend, we sold more than 100 dozen eggs (from the older hens, of course, not the pullets!), all at the farm stand!

DSC_0222That’s the way it goes around here…I can hardly believe how fast things are moving now. The potatoes are already up. Not just up, but tall enough that Roy did the first “hilling” on them (raking soil up and around the base of the plant).


I spotted the first pea blossoms yesterday on the sugar snap peas (a particularly early variety) and sure enough, there were dozens this evening.


It’s lovely to walk around in the evening light and see all our hard work taking shape. We are both exhausted and yes, occasionally cranky, so we have to stop and look around and see how beautiful everything is and also to realize that we’re pretty much on schedule–as much as you can be in a year when everything is late because of the winter. Now if we can just get those tomatoes in the ground …. and more carrots sown, and the brussels sprouts transplanted, and the rest of the squash seedlings started, and…well, you get the idea!

So What’s It Really Like To Be a Chicken Farmer in a Blizzard (Or Any Day)?

DSC_0020The answer to that question—“So what’s it really like to be a chicken farmer in a blizzard?”—is, “Not as bad as being a chicken farmer the day after a blizzard.”

At first, I thought to answer the question this way: “Not as bad as being a cow farmer,” because cows have to be milked twice a day, no matter what, whereas chickens can be supplied with food and water, locked in their coops, and left for the duration of the storm (sort of). But then I realized that the cow barn is usually closer to the house than a whole bunch of chicken coops (seven coops, housing now only about 450 birds but will be 700 come March).

Unlike backyard chicken coops that tend to be located close to the house, our coops are way out in our back field because each one is integrated with a large fenced portion of the field so that all the chickens can have lots of room to roam around. (Photo below taken Monday, pre-storm.)


Every morning, Roy goes down and unlocks the small door on the front of each coop, allowing the chickens to go out. He then refills all of their feeders with heavy bags of grain he carries to the feeders from a central feed storage shed he built near the coops. Then he refills the large vessels of water out in the yard. This time of year, though, the hoses and the water vessels are mostly frozen, so we use axes and hammers to break holes in the ice for the chickens to access the water. (In bad storms, we’ve experimented with bringing water buckets inside the coop, but the hens tend to either knock them over or mess them up pretty quickly. So you can see that getting water to the chickens—who, like all livestock, must have regular water—is probably winter’s biggest challenge.)


During the morning and early afternoon, the hens (in normal weather) go in and out of the coop at their leisure to lay their eggs in nest boxes inside the coops. When evening comes, most of them also naturally gravitate back into the coop and get up on their roost bars. When Roy goes down to close and lock the doors (thus protecting the chickens from raccoons, feral cats, and other critters that might get in during the night), most of the chickens are inside, though during warmer weather and longer dusks it can take some encouraging. Inevitably, a few will jump into some of the trees in their yards and sleep there overnight.


People ask if the hens are warm inside the coop this time of year. Generally, yes. Their body heat, combined with the layer of poop and shavings that we leave on the coop floors during the winter to help insulate the coop (we layer on fresh shavings), raises the temperature. They tend to cluster together on their roosting bars, too. (Outside during a normal cold winter day, you’ll see hens happily hanging out in the yard because they have the ability to puff up their feathers, which traps air pockets and keeps them warmer.) However, since coops have to be ventilated, there are plenty of places where wind and stray snow can blow through in a blizzard. Wind will make the coops colder.

But obviously, your first decision in a blizzard is to forgo letting the chickens out of their coops in the morning. Keeping them inside roosting together is the only way to go.


The other daily task, of course, is egg collecting. Roy and I go down with buckets between 2:30 and 3 (when we’re sure they’re all finished laying) and collect the eggs out of the nest boxes. We enter the coops from a back door—a people door; the hens use the front door. You have to be sure to pull or hook the door shut once inside so that hens don’t push it open and go out the back. All of the big coops with outside latches have a wire you can pull from the inside to release the latch—without that, you’d risk the possibility of locking yourself inside the coop. (Which I did once in fact, do, in a smaller coop. But that’s another story.)


The hens tend to gather around your feet, peck at your pants and shoes and make a lot of clucking noises. It’s certainly not the worst task (cleaning the coops ranks at the top of that list by a mile), as long as you’ve got on your “chicken clothes” –thick boots, crummy jeans, thin work gloves, and a jacket you don’t care about since it’s going to get poop on it. (All of these clothes live on the mudroom floor.) And once you get the hang of it, it doesn’t take too long. But the buckets are heavy.

Carrying the buckets through thigh-high snowdrifts is a good deal more cumbersome.

And that has been the worst part of the blizzard. That, and an interminable amount of shoveling (interminable, as in not done yet) to get a path to the coops and to remove drifts. I, in fact, haven’t been all the way down to the coops since Monday. I’ve been halfway down, but Roy (and our nextdoor neighbor who’s been watching) tells me some of the drifts down there are six feet high. So you can imagine what it has been like getting the feed around, breaking the ice, and collecting the eggs for the last two days.

chicks 2

We lost one chicken (frozen, but it’s hard to tell if that was the cause of death—chickens sometimes just keel over), which all things considered, is not bad. And we lost probably about $100 in eggs because we were not able to collect eggs Tuesday afternoon during the worst of the storm, and by Wednesday morning, many were frozen and the hens in one coop had managed to knock over one row of nest boxes. We collected again yesterday afternoon.

eggs sign

We’ve now washed and packaged all the eggs from the last two days, and shoveled a path to the farm stand, which was completely snow-covered. Eggs are in the farm stand fridge, and we’re open for business.

coops 2

It’s hard to say how much snow we got (maybe 18 to 20 inches?) because it blew constantly (occasional gusts over 60mph, but mostly in the 30 to 35 range I guess) and everything is essentially a drift. There are bare spots and sculpted towers. The inside of the farm stand—where we process everything in warmer weather—was covered in an inch of snow. And of course, the driveway was completely obliterated.

stand 2

We don’t have a regular plow person, but Roy thought to call Keene’s Excavation right down the road from us, and a truck came right over—Hallelujah! We had been shoveling our way down the (very long) driveway in the meantime, and neither one of us was looking forward to doing the whole thing.


We’ll be shoveling more, and collecting eggs again later this afternoon. I guess the one thing all farmers buy into is the “daily” in daily chores.

In the end, it doesn’t matter if you’re a chicken farmer or a cow farmer or a sheep farmer—or even a strictly vegetable farmer—a blizzard is going to make your daily chores a lot more difficult, and/or it will likely cause some damage to your infrastructure. (Our hoop house is still standing, but we know of others who’ve had damage to barns and greenhouses. And only this morning I saw that the plastic cover over our arugula and spinach bed had lifted off, despite my doubled-up effort to weight it down.)


It sure looked beautiful out there (still does), but we aren’t too thrilled that another storm is on its way—tomorrow!



P.S. I did get down to the coops this afternoon to help Roy collect. Shoot-dang, it is DEEP out there! But I took the iPhone with me, and coming back, the light was beautiful on the snow, coming through the hoop house.



The Year in Photos: Green Island Farm, 2014


Barney 4

2014’s best moment: Little Barney comes in from the cold





farm dog



Paulie’s last stand.




photo-12Egg production picks up big-time in spring.


Turning over the new veg field in the “back four.”


10171130_10203818806489450_6846942003228336987_n DSC_4091Onion and potato planting in the damp new days of spring.

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11 may photo-291 photo-293 photo-294And we’re off! Baby kale, Baby bok choy, radishes–and lots of seedlings.


DSC_5912 DSC_5637 land bank path DSC_5576

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It’s all happening fast now–berries, basil, carrots, and…plenty of daylight


photo-296photo-301 photo-300 blues under tulle DSC_7339


Blueberries, black raspberries,  yellow pattypans, purple eggplants, sunny sung olds, cheery calendulas–June is color at last.


DSC_6069 DSC_7006 DSC_6634 32 ribbons 1


Tomatoes, of course. And new chickens. And lots of ribbons at the Fair, oh yeah!


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Serious harvest time.




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October is the best.



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photo-308 photo-305photo-307And to all a good night. Cheers to 2015!

Thanksgiving Tinsel

Roy walked in the house this afternoon with an armful of dried Japanese maple leaves. “Wanna see something cool?” he said, as I scraped pumpkin cheesecake batter into a gingersnap-crusted springform pan. I turned around and fell in love at once with this wispy pink cloud of rosy what-nots. Our first holiday decoration, we decided—Thanksgiving tinsel.

It’s funny about Thanksgiving week, how different and special it feels. The normal routine is knocked about just enough to open up space and time for those pause-button moments, when you notice something beautiful that the wind blew in to your back yard.

Sure, it’s cold. The chickens’ water is frozen. Ratzilla is back in the attic. (And his cousin, Ratatouille, is in the kitchen. I found his stash of chocolate chips, toasted almonds, and doggie kibble behind Mastering The Art of French Cooking the other day.) The wind blows through the windows of this old farmhouse like nobody’s business.

But the hoop house is warm and snug in the early afternoon sun—a good place to go and just rest for a minute. And Roy’s newly built insulated “walk-in” shed is keeping the eggs from freezing.

This week the sun is closing down before 4 pm, and the early darkness is startling. But morning brings customers down the driveway to buy three or four dozen eggs at a time. Everyone is smiling, talking about who’s coming to visit, whether the boats will run in the storm, what they’re planning to cook, how the menu’s coming together. For cooks, there’s sheer joy in all the choices, the dogearing of cookbooks and downloading of recipes. The permission to bake everything from dinner rolls to lattice-top pies. Or to completely deconstruct the spice rack, as I did this afternoon. That I admit, was probably not necessary. If the spices are getting a little old, well, at least there are fresh herbs still alive outside. Sage and rosemary—my heroes.

I love this holiday that celebrates food and gratitude. What more do you need, really? Well, a warm house would be nice…not that there’s anything wrong with this one…

Happy Thanksgiving.




A Tale of Two Rooster-ettes

Way back in May, we got 26 baby chicks: Twenty-five Aracaunas, who are about to drop blue eggs any day now, and one “bonus” exotic mystery breed chick, which turned out to be a Silver Polish Crested.

Now that the girls are four months old, we have to face the reality that not all of the girls are, well, girls. Though they don’t seem to actually know that.

Polly, our Polish Crested, didn’t get along with anyone right from the start, so she had to be separated. She had her own special dog crate in Roy’s shop for the first couple months. When it was time for her to graduate, Roy fashioned her a special little coop-within-a-coop that opens out onto her own little pasture-pen. It’s no wonder Polly is fond of Roy. Only problem is, Polly is really Pauley. She crows. (Or tries to crow—it sounds painful.) And she doesn’t cock-a-doodle-doo at the usual rooster-crowing times, like sunrise. She crows when Roy gets home from off-farm work in the early afternoon. And she crows at sunset. (See, I still refer to her as She.)

She also stays happily in her outdoor pen until dusk. Then she decides to roost on top of the deer fencing between her pen and her neighbors until Roy comes along, plucks her off, and tucks her into her little coop for the night. She could fly out and wander around (any time of the day), but she doesn’t. Okay, I mean he doesn’t. It doesn’t look like a terribly comfortable spot to hang out, but apparently it appeals to him.

Over at the Aracaunas’ coop, we have Henzilla (above). We started calling her that when clearly she was growing twice as fast as the rest of the girls. Honestly, we knew she wasn’t a hen, but the name kind of stuck. And the funny thing is, though Henzilla wanders around the pen towering over all the other girls, she doesn’t seem to be very aggressive and she hasn’t learned to crow yet. She’s pretty mellow in fact. (If you can describe an Aracauna as mellow—they’re all pretty skittish. If you want docile, go for a Buff Orpington like Martha.) Anyway, I feel sorry for Henzilla, because she just seems like a really awkward teenager to me (handsome though she is!). And plus, once she  does get her Superman cape on and transform into a real rooster, she (he) might not be around for long. Roy has always said, “no roosters.” Except Polly/Pauley, who he thinks is special just because she looks exotic. Which he does. If you like feathers.

Well, who knows what will happen. With 550 chickens, 9 coops, and several large chicken pastures (not to mention 450 eggs a day) to manage, Roy is always fine-tuning the chicken operation. If I were a rooster, I might try and impress Roy, too. Considering it’s all about the eggs around here, just being exotic might not cut it.


Will it be Door #1, Door #2, or Door #3? Only the Hens Know

Our 300 new pullets arrived yesterday. That makes a total of 540 chickens for us. The pullets are 16 weeks old and will begin laying small eggs in about a month. By high summer, we will be collecting more than 3000 eggs a week. That’s 250 dozen, plus.

Should be interesting.

The delivery came a week early (of course), with a few days warning. So Roy has been working like mad to get the three new coops built and the fencing up. When the girls arrived at 10 am yesterday, we took them directly out of their travel crates and put them right in the coops to get them used to their new homes.

After setting up the farm stand this morning (above)  and eating my breakfast (Green Island Farm eggs of course!), I went down to watch Roy let the girls out into their lovely grassy field.

But the girls were not in a hurry. We watched and waited a bit, then went back to work. It took the first birds until 2 pm to get up the courage to go out (even though they could see their big sisters in the pen right next to theirs.) And even then, one entire coop stayed put for another hour. It was the funniest thing watching them all standing in the doorways. Which ones would come out first? All I could think of was the “The Price is Right.” Would it be Door #1, Door #2, or Door #3? Well, the group behind Door #1 were definitely the brave ones, out and about first. (Top photo.) Group 3 (bottom photo) followed, while Group 2 (middle photo) must have had something pretty interesting going on in the coop, because they didn’t budge for quite a while.

It’s a beautiful day for the girls to be settling into their new digs. Let’s just hope they don’t get too adventuresome too quickly. Their big sisters found an opening in their fence yesterday, and about 60 of them went strolling down the Land Bank path right about the time the pullets were arriving. (At least there weren’t as many escapees as last time.)

And fortunately the pullets don’t have to worry about being the new kids on the block for too long. Our 25 baby Aracauna chicks are due to arrive at the post office on Monday. Yes, you heard that right. But they won’t start laying (blue) eggs until September, so that’s two dozen we won’t have to think about for a while!




Jumbo Eggs & Chicken Collectibles; Plus A Cabbage Recipe & A Candle for Sixburnersue

Merrily skipping outside with my camera this morning, I had visions of writing about hope and rebirth (jumping right past St. Patrick’s Day to Easter), so I started snapping photos of chives and daffodils poking through the ground.

Then down to the hoop house I went (again) figuring I hadn’t yet inundated you with enough baby seedling pix.


Oh, and the first true leaves on the tomato seedlings under the lights—you’d have to see those.

But very quickly I got distracted. I went to check the nest boxes and found a lovely egg in a sunny bed of straw.

And then I remembered that every night while we’re washing and packing the eggs, I marvel at how striking they look in their almond and apricot and melony hues, so tidily arranged in their cartons. I wanted to show you our cool product.


And then I remembered that I keep meaning to photograph the jumbo and miniature eggs we get. The jumbo eggs, mostly double-yolkers, are so huge (sometimes more than 3 1/2 ounces) that it makes you wince thinking about those 4-pound hens laying them. We get three or four jumbos every day. The minis are more of an aberration. (The egg in the middle, below, is normal sized.)

Off I went to photograph eggs, and in the process, I added a chicken to one of the photos (see top of blog). We have a lot of chickens. Not just live chickens…

…But wooden chickens, china chickens, iron chickens, chickens on dishtowels and pot holders, chickens on plates and mugs. We are guilty of collecting them, and friends and family give us more. (Roy already had the one below when I met him. He and Libby bought the one above for me a couple years back.)


My friend Eliza gave us these great hen and rooster salt and pepper shakers.


My friend  Heidi dropped by yesterday with a cool hen tote bag and some produce bags from her sister’s company, Ecobags.


My mom recently passed along this lovely Nicolas Mosse plate and the great Barred Rock look-a-like (at top).


Our friend Mary gave us this wonderful Bridgewater chicken mug.


Roy’s mom found us an old egg carton stamp in an antique store…


…and Roy picked up this old egg scale at a tag scale.


One chicken-y shelf in our mudroom includes Roy’s egg cup from childhood and a little wooden toy rooster from Portugal I had as a child.

In the end I decided to share our chicken collectibles with you in the blog today. But then I figured I shouldn’t ignore St. Patrick’s Day altogether, so I found the link to this fabulous cabbage and potato gratin I created and posted two years ago. Reading that post, I realized (yikes) that St. Patrick’s Day is Sixburnersue.com’s official anniversary. Apparently you folks have been putting up with me and my rambling blogs for three years now—wow!

I have to thank you for that. And for helping me get through a nasty winter. Whether it’s shamrocks or garlic chives, fresh eggs or baby lambs, there’s plenty about spring to jump start our spirits.


This Business of Eggs: Green Island Farm Grows Up

Four years ago, Roy and I (newly besotted), rented a little plot of land on a Vineyard farm. We grew vegetables and sold them at the farm’s roadside stand. Living in a tiny apartment over a general store, we shuttled back and forth to tend our plot.

That fall, our friend Joannie tracked us down one day, took us by the hand, and led us to a little farm house on two acres of land. Right on the spot, she introduced us to the owners and insisted that they rent the farm house to us. I’m not sure if the owners knew what hit them, but in about an hour, we had all shaken hands and Roy and I were packing up the apartment. Our new landlords said, “Sure, grow whatever you want here.”

We moved into the little (uninsulated) 1895 farm house a few weeks later, and by spring we were turning over the soil and putting up the fences for our first vegetable plot. Roy built a little farm stand, and we stuck a sign out by the road. One summer, then two summers went by. We got 8 laying hens, and then 50 more. The garden doubled in size, and we built a hoop house. We made a tiny bit of money off our tiny farmette, keeping the farm stand open almost every day while writing books and building houses (our real jobs), too.

Then one day Tom came by. Tom and Roy talked, like men do, standing next to their trucks, arms folded. I watched from the kitchen window, my hands covered in olive oil and salt. Tom and Roy walked down to the fence line at the bottom of the farmette and looked out over the fields beyond, fields that have been in Tom’s family for hundreds of years. Tom and his mother Druscilla (yes, our landlords) lease some of that land to Morning Glory Farm to grow corn and squash. But there are eight grassy acres spiked with pines and cedars right behind us that long to be farmed.

After a spell, Roy and Tom walked back up to the house. I wiped my hands and stepped outside. “We’re going to be chicken farmers, dear,” Roy informed me, Tom smiling beside him. They’d made a deal.

At that moment, our fuzzy dream snapped into focus and took on the shape of reality.

With the extra acres Tom would lease us (four to start), we’d be able to turn the farm into a real business. Roy knew he wanted to spend less time on big building projects and more time farming, and we knew from a bit of number crunching that laying hens would be profitable. We played the numbers out a bit more and decided to make a phone call. To our surprise, we hung up the phone with (gulp) an order of 200 16-week old pullets scheduled to be delivered to the island in only a few weeks time. That was late October.

While Roy and our friend Scott quickly built the new coops and erected the huge (60′ x 90′) initial yard for the pullets, I worked up a real business plan, shopped around for insurance, filed the LLC paperwork, got a Tax ID number—and ordered a whole lot more egg cartons!

Since the day the pullets arrived, Roy has worked feverishly to get all the systems in place—watering and feeding, cleaning the coops, haying the nest boxes, collecting the eggs, washing the eggs, packaging the eggs, marketing the eggs, delivering the eggs. He is Mr. Egg Man. (I have been conveniently “on deadline,” though I am told that when the next 200 chickens arrive this spring, my duties will be, ahem, changing.)

Mr. Egg Man and I are celebrating today, celebrating the end of our first real week in business. All our paperwork is complete. Nearly all of the pullets are laying, and Roy collected more than 1300 eggs this week. We have new customers—a restaurant, a grocery store, and a market; the farm stand cooler is stocked every day. Best of all, not a single one of those 1300 eggs is left in the fridge. All sold. Today, there will be 18 dozen more to pack up. And 18 dozen more tomorrow. Whew. Well, you can’t have a farm business without a farm product. Which is why I am off to transplant lettuce seedlings in the hoop house. This is the coolest part about the dream—coloring in the lines you’ve sketched for yourselves.




Waiting for Sandy: Hurricane Prep, Farm-Style

I’ve lived my whole life within a few miles (sometimes a few feet) of major coastlines, so hurricane prep is something I’m accustomed to. However, the possible combination of frequent 70-mile per hour gusts, 60 live animals, and a recently constructed parachute-like structure called a hoop house is a new one for me. And I noticed yesterday that Roy was being particularly meticulous about nailing and weighting and tying things down. Hmmm. The last time we had hurricane warnings, he seemed fairly nonplussed. This one, not so much.

So it is safe to say we have a healthy degree of concerned anticipation (I wouldn’t call it anxiety) about what Hurricane Sandy might bring our way. Frankly, I’m more worried about my parents in Delaware and my friends in Connecticut, where the storm will bring much more rain and flooding. But we do have a responsibility to protect live critters. We’ve done our best to secure the hoop house, and even if the greenhouse film rips and writhes in the wind, leaving us with a mess, we can replace it and fix it, no problem. The hope is that no other supposedly immovable objects start acting like projectiles around the yard, with the potential to hurt us or the animals.

Moving Cocoa Bunny into the barn was the first and most obvious precaution. (We’ve done this with previous storms.) Her cage is easy to lift, and she will be happy and snug through the two days of high winds. (My lifelong friend Liz Pardoe Gray is here visiting and snapped the pic of Susie and Roy.) Also obvious this time was clearing the farm stand completely and turning it over before the wind has a chance to do that (like it did in last fall’s Nor’ Easter). We had to wait until later in the afternoon to do this, though, because we had the farm stand open to sell eggs today. We put out 7 1/2 dozen—everything we collected yesterday and today, thinking we wouldn’t put out any tomorrow or Tuesday—and they all sold. Not surprising, really—Vineyarders may be hunkering down, but they’re still going to eat well!

For the seven older chickens, we’ll let them go into their coop tonight, supply them with extra water and feed, and not let them out into their yard in the morning. They have spacious digs, so they will be fine hanging out inside the coop. This afternoon we corralled the bigger flock of 48 into the small permanent pen adjacent to their coop—much less area for them to roam around in, but also much less chance of breaking tree limbs crashing down on them. (Some of them needed more convincing than others to leave their new grazing area, so Roy helped them along.) We will probably let them go back out into that limited area in the morning, though we’ve put an extra waterer in the coop in case that turns out to be a bad idea. They’d probably rather wander in and out of the rain and wind instead of being “cooped up” together all day. We’ll also need to get in the coop to collect eggs and that can be difficult with all of them in there. But we’ll have to see what we think in the morning.

Most importantly, Roy has filled a big trash can with water for the chickens in case the power goes out and we can’t use the well. Chickens drink a lot of water, and going even a day without is not an option.

There wasn’t much I could do in the vegetable garden. Nature will take its course out there and I am fine with that. I harvested some lettuce and arugula and green beans for our dinner tonight (first bay scallops of the season), and picked the prettiest zinnias, as I know those plants are going to get nailed. But otherwise, I mostly just picked up any tools or random stakes I could find and tucked them in the shed. I moved pumpkins and potted plants under the covered front entry, and I stacked random outdoor furniture in the outside shower.

With everything as secure as we could manage, Roy and I moved inside to enjoy the kind of Sunday afternoon only possible when a good friend is visiting and a hurricane is threatening (even the ferry boats to and from the Island have been canceled so we are essentially  marooned!). Being forced to slow down for a few hours is actually a gift for us; so no matter what Sandy brings, we are glad for the interlude.


Rosie the Ringleader and the Houdini Hens

We had a lovely visit from Brooklyn-based food and lifestyle photographer Alexandra Grablewski this week. She took pictures of us and just about everything on the farm but she was particularly fascinated with the chickens. It’s hard not to be—they are totally entertaining. Especially when they get out of their yard and go on walk-abouts.

I usually know when one or more has escaped the chicken yard, because I hear Farmer whining. He gets terribly upset if I don’t go out and immediately pick them up and return them to the pen. But often this happens during the day when I’m working—plus I know it’s probably just Rosie. Rosie (pictured here) is the independent type and seems to like using her wings to fly over a tall fence every morning. Occasionally two, three, or four follow her, and I can generally round those gals up without help. Roy claims I am the worst chicken rounder-upper out there, and it may be true.

But a couple times in the past week there’s been a mass exodus, so we’ve both had to do our rounding-up best. Look, it’s not like they don’t have a huge yard and fresh grass to feed on. They shouldn’t feel the need to travel—it’s just that, well, chickens like to cross the road, or the yard, or anything. In both of those cases, the culprit has been an unlatched or partially latched door they’ve managed to push open. (Of course we have no idea who would leave the gate unlatched!) And herding 48 laying hens is nothing short of comical.

Usually if you get close to them they’ll squat and let you pick them up. But a few are flighty and will just fuss and squawk and ruffle their feathers and generally be obstinate about the whole returning home thing. These are the ones who wind up underneath the tractor, in a thicket of brambles and branches, or over in the perennial flowers. Rosie will be hanging out with them, you can just count on it.

Eventually, with a chicken (or two) under each arm, we get them all back in. And then there’s the whole going-to-bed problem. Forty-three of the chickens go inside the coop just like chickens are supposed to do when the sun goes down. But five of them have decided that the best roosting spot is on top of the water trough out in the yard. So they have to be picked up and stuck inside the coop one by one. (Roy does this every night.) And if you do it too soon, they’ll just start coming back out as you’re getting the last one in.

Perhaps there’s a reason man started eating chickens so many years ago. Might be easier than keeping laying hens. The eggs are pretty darn tasty though.

P.S. Alexandra’s photos of the farm and chickens are for a future project, so we won’t be able to share any of them for awhile–but promise it will happen when the time comes!