The Beginning of Everything Part 2: Navy Seal of Chickens


I had my chickens “secured” in what might be confused with a homeless person camping out in the back yard. A blue tarp covered a small space enclosed by chicken wire. After a few weeks, my father grew suspicious of the tarp and goes “what’s that?!” I knew I was had. I answered honestly: “uh, chickens.” I thought about giggling maniacally and just bounding off. I didn’t. He was flabbergasted, but there wasn’t much he could do now. He threw his hands up and walked away.

My chickens needed a real home. They couldn’t live in a shanty town forever. I set about designing a coop and preparing the materials. Surprisingly, despite my father’s objections, he decided to aid in the construction of the coop. Mere hours later, with only slight frustration and disagreement, we finished the coop and I painted it a rustic barn red. I was delighted. It had a nifty sliding door with a handle, two windows, a side access door so I could clean it out, two nesting boxes with an easy opening to collect eggs, and a little ramp for the chickens to scamper down.

Building the coop was actually the easy part. I had no idea. I figured I’d just catch them and put them in. I hadn’t yet learned that they are darn near blind at night and generally just stand still, hoping you go away and don’t decide to eat them. No one told me how to herd them! No one teaches you the art of gracefully engaging in chicken snatching. It would be another year before I learned about poultry hooks and fashioned one for myself out of an old metal coat hanger.

Chickens are fast. And agile. Freaking dinosaurs that they are, maybe now you’ll think of the T-rex a little differently. I doubt he struggled to get around. His little arms get mocked, but I’m sure he was crazy fast and agile too like his miniature current-day versions. A chicken will outrun you. They will dart into small spaces and around corners like their little life depends on it. (They think it does) I didn’t plan on eating them, but after running around the yard after them, I sure was thinking about it.

I attempted to catch them in broad daylight with a friend. Together we worked to corral these seven mini dinos. One darted into a clump of weeds and we thought for sure we had her. We both advanced on her location and I quickly threw my hands into the weeds. Nothing. We shoved the weeds apart. Nothing! We had both watched her leap into the weeds to hide, never seeing her leave that spot. Minds blown, we resumed our efforts with the other six. Suddenly, she was with the group! Then and there, we named her “Navy Seal,” beyond impressed with her ability to suddenly disappear.

Long story short, they eventually made it to the coop. They protested initially. But they soon found their new digs to be quite cozy and settled in for the final weeks of summer. They provided me with a few eggs after a few months of confused head scratching. I had wrongly assumed I had bought fully matured bantam hens. I could not have been more wrong. Three of them ended up being roosters and none of them were fully grown OR bantams. Obviously, I had more reading to do if I was going to be a chicken farmer of any sort.

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