The Ugly Chicken

My poor little ugly duckling chicken. This poor beast is a survivor. An ugly survivor.

I had never raised bantam chickens before. They are pretty much a useless bird aside from their compact cuteness. Next to standard size poultry, these stood out like colorful little gumballs and were almost an obsession an obsession when I first saw them at the feed store.

Peeping chicks in a screen covered trough are a weakness of mine. They are just so darn sweet and fuzzy. I want to collect rescue them all. And bantam chicks are the miniature version of the sweet and fuzzy making them exponentially more sweet and fuzzy.

The particular batch of bantams I bought ended up all having avian pox. It is a virus that is typically non deadly, but (oh yeah) can be disfiguring. I had all the bantams isolated from my other birds, and so far (a year later) no other birds in my flock have shown any symptoms of disease. (I also practice “prevention.” For more info on prevention techniques, click here).  Unfortunately, over half of the original dozen banties I bought died.

When sweet and fuzzy grey silkie started showing signs of pox, I wasn’t holding out for a miracle. I learned that bantams are not resilient and it was evident the parent flock at the hatchery they came from was diseased. I dosed the remaining chicks with apple cider vinegar and oregano oil added to their water. I bleached out their area and moved their mobile coop to a fresh spot every few days. Every day I braced myself for finding one more dead. I had done all I could do within my limited ability. Their fate rested with God.

But little sweet fuzzy grey didn’t die. He just got ugly. Really ugly.

I am actually very fond of the little guy…or girl…don’t know…don’t care.

Here is a photo of Ugly Sweet Fuzzy.


Farm Pictures Complete-0020
Photo by Rachel Hancock

And here is a photo of Sweet Fuzzy in the 1988 movie “Willow”:


Sweet Fuzzy continues to thrive. Someday, you may come and visit and see the survivor for yourself.


The Snake in the Coop


When we first bought the farm, before we had goats, our pasture was wild and messy with weeds. Tall buffalo burrs discouraged the chickens from foraging too closely and the ragweed grew closely and compact together. It was the perfect cover and habitat for snakes. I never considered myself “afraid” of snakes, but the first time I shared a corner of my chicken coop with one, that was something like “afraid.”

He was a long thing (I say “he” because something so repulsive shouldn’t be a “she” in a story). He was a Texas rat snake. Or a king cobra or boa or anaconda…something like that. It really doesn’t matter. It was a SNAKE IN THE COOP. As he slithered out of the corner, I watched in alarm as his body just kept coming and coming. He was a good 4 ft or 12 ft long serpent.

I decided we could not be friends.

My children, 4 of them, ages 2-8, were out near the coop with me along with my sandal wearing husband. Why he was wearing sandals in the barn yard perplexes me to this day. I had boots on. Good Ariat work boots. And I would have stomped the life out that creature had it not been for my college education, which taught me to think rationally. So I ran. I ran and told my sandal wearing husband to take care of it.

I whisked the precious children out of harms way and barricaded us safely in the 2nd story bathroom. I chose the 2nd floor because I have never seen a snake climb stairs and the bathroom because the adrenal glands are located on the kidneys and the kidneys are connected to the bladder…

Also, the window in the bathroom gave us a safe vantage in which we could view Daddy serving a swift justice to the beast who had threatened our very lives (amazing how panic embellishes fear).

The man mosied. I love that word. It’s such a good country word. “Mosey.”

He was not killing anything. He was standing in the doorway of the coop.

When he finally returned, I inquired about his heroic endeavor to destroy the 15ft long sea serpent that had trespassed on our land and wreaked havoc on my preferences.

“I left a hoe in there for you,” he informs me.


“Yes. By the time I changed my shoes and went back out there, it was gone. So I left the hoe for you. The internet says just to cut off the head then you can chop it into lots of little pieces for your chickens to eat,” he informs me.

(It’s important for my readers to know that my husband is an electrical engineer. Very matter-of-fact fellow).

“A hoe.”

Gee, thanks.