Counting My Chickens turned one year old today and, in light of this momentous occasion, I think it’s high time I faced the facts.
I’m a crazy chicken lady.
There, I said it.
Mind you, I didn’t set out to become a crazy chicken lady when I started this blog a year ago. I simply wanted to share my stories about how I raise high-quality, healthy food in my own backyard while hopefully inspiring others to do the same.
But it’s a slippery slope one goes down when blogging about chickens.
First, there’s that thing called chicken math. A year ago I had three chickens. But writing about them all the time made me want more. Now I have five. And I have my eye on some larger, fancier chicken coops that would allow me to expand my flock even more should chicken math take hold again.
But it’s not just the expanding flock that signals my passage over to the dark side. No, there have been other signs, some subtle, some not. And when you add them all up, it’s undeniable. I. Am. A. Crazy. Chicken. Lady.
Let’s take a look, shall we? Here are the top ten signs that I’m a crazy chicken lady.
10. My home is filled with a growing collection of chicken-themed things.
Not only am I collecting chickens, I am collecting chicken-themed stuff. And, sure, when you start keeping chickens, your friends tend to latch on to your new hobby as inspiration for every future gift-giving occasion. But, the thing is, I’m just as responsible for the growing collection of chicken-themed home decor, apparel, and tchotchkes as anyone, having purchased many of the items myself.
Here’s just a small sampling of my chicken-themed treasures:
And I really do consider them to be treasures, which is exactly how a crazy chicken lady would view them.
9. I chose a chicken painting over a bedroom remodel.
The biggest treasure in my collection is the painting that appears at the top of this post and which hangs above the stairway in my home. “Who Does She Think She Is” was painted by my talented artist friend Jacqui Fehl and, as soon as I saw it (via a Facebook post), I knew I had to have it.
I have a (very) small art collection from back in the day when I practiced law and had a disposable income, and I’ve responded to other paintings in my collection in a similar way, so wanting to add Jacqui’s painting to my collection doesn’t make me a crazy chicken lady by any means. However, there are many who would consider the choice I made to get it just over a year ago to be a sign of my impending descent into crazy chicken lady-hood.
You see, for my birthday last year, my husband gifted me with a small budget to redo our master bedroom – to repaint the walls and replace the stained carpet. I had the paint colors all picked out. But then I came across “Who Does She Think She Is” as I was getting ready to launch this blog and just knew the painting was meant to be a part of my new endeavor. (It is the blog’s featured image.) And then I blew the bedroom budget to buy the painting and have it shipped halfway across the country. So I’m still living with dingy walls and nasty carpet, and I really don’t mind.
8. My chickens have names … and know them.
Naming your chickens doesn’t necessarily make you a crazy chicken lady. However, truly believing your chickens know their names and will come when you call them by name maybe starts veering into cray-cray territory. (And they really do come when I call them, at least the older three do.)
7. My phone thinks I’m a crazy chicken lady.
Like most smart phones, my phone has a predictive text feature that suggests words as I type based on the first letters typed and the context of the other words in the message. But I’m pretty sure my phone suggests the word “chickens” a lot more than most phones.
For example, if I type “how are the,” my phone invariably suggests that I complete the question with the word “chickens.” And, yes, I’m sure I use the word “chickens” a lot in my texts, especially if I am away from home and checking in on my girls. So, while that prediction may not scream crazy chicken lady, the suggestion I received yesterday sure does.
It happened last night when I was at a baseball game with my husband. He left his seat to get food and, while waiting in line for a really long time, missed some big plays in the game. I began to text him, “Did you see all of the ….” Instead of suggesting the word I was about to type (“action”), my phone offered up a suggestion so good that I had to accept it, thereby baffling my husband. Here’s a screenshot:
So let’s get this straight. My phone thinks I equate “egg-laying” with “action.” And maybe I do. I do like it when there’s a lot of “action” out in the chicken coop, after all. My phone may be on to something here.
6. My husband thinks I’m a crazy chicken lady.
My husband is an absolute gem. Not only does he put up with stuff like the silly text message above, he endures my constant babbling about my chickens. In fact, he seems to enjoy it. The other day, he said to me, “I can’t wait to get home from work every day and hear all the crazy chicken stuff you’re going to tell me.” His comment came after I had just schooled him on good poop and bad poop.
This guy is a keeper.
5. I have dreams about my chickens.
I don’t merely dream about my chickens, I have nightmares about them, like the one I had recently after sharing an article on my Facebook page that linked salmonella outbreaks to people kissing their pet chickens.
In my dream, the homeowners association (of which I’m always a bit wary, anyway), sent a health inspector to test my chicken pen for salmonella. The inspector’s test came back positive and I was ordered to cull my chickens because of the danger they presented to the public’s health and safety. I woke up in a panic and was so disturbed that I couldn’t get back to sleep the rest of the night. Pretty crazy, huh?
4. Yes, I cuddle with my chickens.
Perhaps my salmonella nightmare had its roots in the fact that I do cuddle with – and sometimes kiss – my chickens. Crazy? Perhaps. But the thing that could be viewed as even crazier is the special bedtime routine that Petunia and I have developed in the 14 months since she’s become a part of the flock.
You see, Petunia, won’t go into the coop to roost at night with the other chickens. Instead, she waits on the outside roost until I come out to lock up the chickens for the night. At that point, Petunia jumps down from the outdoor roost and up into the doorway of the coop. There, she waits in a submissive squat for me to give her what can be described only as a chicken massage. Every night we have to do this. I rub her down her back and under her wings until finally I get sick of it (she never does) and shove her fluffy butt into the coop so I can shut the door.
I know it’s crazy. But she really seems to enjoy it.
3. I obsess over minor chicken maladies.
With all of the news reports about salmonella and avian flu, it’s good practice for a chicken keeper to monitor the health of her flock. But maybe it’s just a little crazy for her to obsess about it.
Let me give you a quick example. The other day, I noticed Hazel’s lower eyelid was a bit swollen, like she had received a bug bite or maybe a peck. Indeed, a closer inspection revealed a small bruise mark that was the apparent point of contact. Nonetheless, I rushed inside to my computer to search on “chicken with a swollen eyelid” and proceeded to read one article after another about all the horrific chicken diseases that could cause a chicken’s eyelid to swell. I occasionally took breaks from my reading to go back outside and conduct subsequent examinations of Hazel and, for good measure, the other chickens, too.
Seeing no signs of any horrific chicken diseases, I made a special trip to Tractor Supply to buy Terramycin ointment to treat the eye and, just in case, VetRx, to treat any respiratory ailments that might suddenly manifest themselves. I also contemplated buying an expensive box of Tylan 50 to combat whatever horrific disease that could be running rampant through my flock. Fortunately, common sense prevailed, and I left Tractor Supply after spending only $28 on stuff I probably didn’t need and not forking over another $20 for antibiotics I most certainly didn’t need (and wouldn’t have known how to use, anyway).
When I got home, I treated Hazel with the Terramycin and monitored her closely for the rest of the day and the next day. At one point, I asked my husband to check on her, too. He told me she looked just fine to him, to which I replied, “Are you sure you know which chicken is Hazel?” He may have been slightly offended. (See item 8 above.)
And, by the next day, Hazel was just fine. On the other hand, I probably need to up my blood pressure medication after spending a day-and-a- half obsessing about horrific chicken diseases.
2. I obsess over my chickens’ breeds and gender.
It’s not crazy to be concerned about whether the pullets you brought home might turn out to be roosters, especially if you don’t have place for a rooster in your backyard flock (or are prohibited from having a rooster under the rules where you live). But maybe I’ve been just a little obsessed about it since I brought Marigold and Betty home five weeks ago. Poor things have had to endure numerous examinations for evidence of spurs, sickle feathers, and the like.
But the really crazy thing is how, in all of my research about how to tell a hen from a rooster, I came across some information that really rocked my world.
Hazel is not a Golden Campine after all.
For three years, I believed my pretty little chicken to be a Campine, a critically endangered heritage breed. Everything matched up: the markings, the disposition, the size, the egg color. Everything, that is, but the comb.
It turns out Golden Campines have a single comb. But Hazel has a rose comb. That means she isn’t the rare Campine, but the much more common Gold Penciled Hamburg.
Learning this information had me questioning everything I knew to be true. Hazel isn’t what I thought she was! I told my husband – only half joking – that in my fragile state, he better not announce that he was a woman trapped in a man’s body or something.
And does Hazel’s breed matter in any way? Do I intend to breed her? No. Do I intend to show her? No. Something like this would matter only to a crazy chicken lady, right?
And the number one sign that I’m a crazy chicken lady …
So now you know all of my dirty little secrets. I give chicken massages, I have a tendency to obsess about my chickens, I’m really bummed that my Hazel isn’t so special after all. But the most telling sign that I’m a crazy chicken lady?
I let the whole world watch me being a crazy chicken lady. On the Chicken Cam. Sometimes in my pajamas.