Author: Anna Hess

A brief history of chickens

Prairie chicken pipe

This Native American ceremonial pipe from nearly two thousand years ago doesn’t represent a domesticated chicken — just a prairie chicken. But it got me thinking about how deeply intertwined our lives are with the lives of our animals.

Animal domestication timeline

Chickens were late to the domestication party, but they’ve since been represented widely in art and cutlure.

Chickens in culture

Want to learn more about chickens past and present? Check out the online exhibit the image above came from at Uncooped.org.

Managing spring grass

First green grass

Before livestock entered my life, I never paid attention to the first green grass. But now, even when we don’t have our own chickens or goats, those tender sprouts in late February make me smile. Sure enough, a visit to our neighbor’s house revealed her flock hungrily pecking up not just worms but also every bit of greenery they could get their beaks on.

Eggs for sale

Luckily for all of us, chickens aren’t like ruminants — they won’t eat so much spring grass that they make themselves sick. But they can easily overgraze the first flush so much that their pasture becomes spotty and rank for the rest of the year.

In a free-range setting like this one, there’s not much you can do to prevent overgrazing. And our neighbor doesn’t really need to — after all, her chickens are able to roam across several acres, so once one area runs out they’ll move on to another. But if you’ve got your flock more constrained in either tractors or a pasture, spring is the time to be plotting out your entire year’s rotation schedule so you still have green grass for the birds to enjoy in July and August.

Pasture Basics

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(epub file sideloaded through Bookfunnel)

I’ve plotted out years’ worth of pasturing wisdom in my ebook Pasture Basics, currently on sale for 25% off if you buy direct. Hopefully my tips will let your flock enjoy the spring flush…and the summer lull as well. Happy grazing!

Calling all crazy egg photos!

Big egg

The grass is greening up, chickens are starting to lay…and the first few eggs of the year have a tendency to be funky. Stories have been rolling in about weird eggs — double yolkers, triple yolkers, and even the rather astonishing egg shown here.

Crazy egg

Our neighbors cracked open this huge specimen last summer and found inside not only two yolks…but also a smaller egg complete with shell!

I’ll bet you can’t top that story…but maybe you can? If so, I hope you’ll email your weird egg photo (and story) to aimee@wetknee.com so we can share it with the world!