Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Chicken

Shelly Jobgen of Illinois made this 4' x 5' lighted "Christmas Chicken" with some wire and 350 lights.

"We call her the Christmas Chicken, and I've gotten lots of comments," she writes in an email. "The most frequently asked: What does a chicken have to do with Christmas?

Answer: If you don't have a Christmas Chicken, how will you get Easter eggs!"

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Pat Foreman, co-host with Andy Schneider on The Chicken Whisperer radio program,, recounted her chickens reaction to the lunar eclipse of the night before,, in the December 21 broadcast. Although they weren't able to see it, they seemed to react to it.
At her home in Virginia, Pat wanted to see the eclipse. The sky was clear enough for her to see the beginning, but then the clouds rolled in. By the time of totality, around 3:13 am, the clouds obscured the spectacle.

But then one of her roosters began to crow. Then the other crowed, in response. They alternated crowing for about five minutes, then stopped. Pat was concerned that some predator was threateneing the flock, making them crow, but nothing was there. After she talked about it on the program, two listeners sent messages that their roosters had crowed to the dark moon, too.
Anyone else hear from their roosters that night? I was away from home, so wasn't able to witness what my Dorking had to say on the subject. The solstice is the turning of the year, the beginning of longer days that indicate to chickens that it's time to start laying again. Day length is significant to chickens. Perhaps they have other ways of sensing such an important astronomical event.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Nebraskan Turkeys

Ian Waterman contacted me from Britain,, seeking information on Nebraskan Turkeys. Nebraskans were a new variety developed in the late 1940s by R. H. Jandebeur of North Platte, Nebraska. Frank Reese of Good Shepherd Turkey Ranch in Lindsborg, Kansas has some information from his work with Norm Kardosh. I'll search through the SPPA collection of antique books and magazines for more background for him.

If you have any information on this breed, which may now have disappeared, please contact me.

In the meantime, Ian sent some photos of his birds. These Ocellated Turkeys are the wild breed I wrote about in last month's issue of Backyard Poultry.
The Narragansett tom is a beauty.
These are his Buffs.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Everyone loves chickens!

I attended the Southern California American Society of Journalists and Authors,, holiday lunch last week. It was delightful, held at a Victorian tea room, the Vintage Tea Leaf,, in Long Beach, California. Long Beach is better known for the port of Los Angeles, so a tea room is unexpected there, but sure enough, it's the real thing.

A large display of porcelain cups and saucers fills the back wall. You get to choose the one you like best to drink your tea. Getting the Best cup and saucer sets the tone for a good time! I chose one decorated with mallards in flight. Just right for me!
Tina Tessina,, who is a licensed marriage and family therapist as well as a writer, organized the lunch. She had recently returned from a cruise to Hawaii, where she took this photo of one of Kauai's feral chickens. Stories vary -- perhaps it was a hurricane that destroyed coops a few years back, setting the chickens free. Kauai has few natural predators for chickens, so they have done well in the wild. Chickens are everywhere. Tina took this picture in the Wal-Mart parking lot.
Two years ago I visited Kauai as an Environmental Journalism Fellow at the National Tropical Botanical Garden, It was a career-changing experience, and led to my writing How to Raise Poultry. The chickens live in the jungle, free as Junglefowl. Hens lead their chicks to scratch on the beach. It's an idyllic life.
Thanks, Tina, for sharing this picture and your experience.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Chicken Whisperer

"Live with Regis & Kelly" is having a contest to look for "Men of Radio Co-Hosts." The winner will get to co-host an episode of the television show in January. Andy Schneider aspires to sit on that set and tell the viewing audience about chickens!

"What a great way to spread the chicken love to more people across the country!" he writes in an email.

You can nominate him at the program's site,

Some basic information required for the form:

Name: Andy Schneider - The Chicken Whisperer

Radio Station: Blog Talk Radio

City: Atlanta