The Chicken Laid What?

Prior to purchasing Gaia’s Way Farm, and moving temporarily to Pennington, Jason and I leased a 30-acre farm at the northern tip of Delaware Township. Unbeknownst to us at the time we moved in, it was something of a swamp. On warm summer nights, our yard sounded like a Louisiana bayou. With the exception of a few small areas, the new farm drains well, and, even better, is out of the 500-year flood zone. Taking the mitigating factor of climate change into consideration, I hope that means out front porch won’t be a dock in the next ten years.


In the meantime, water is something of an issue. Actually, power is the real issue, since we need that to run the well pump. For the moment the creek is still running, so we’re not completely without. Unfortunately, the current lack of power is posing a few small challenges, beyond making holiday lights on the house impossible. Namely, I can’t keep the chickens’ water from freezing. A couple weeks ago I spent an afternoon, plus trips to Goodwill and Home Depot, McGuyvering what I’d hoped was an insulated chicken water heater. It came out exactly how I pictured, but my experimental heat source hasn’t been up to the task. I’m wide open to suggestions here, if anyone has thoughts. Just keep in mind no power, and open flames are off the table (Jason won’t even let me experiment!)

Chicken water.jpg

Our eventual plan is to keep the property permanently off-grid using efficient systems and a solar array on the big barn, which can’t be seen from the road. Jason likes to call it “the original off-grid house goes off-grid again.” I’m all for this, but have to say a smidge of electric in the meanwhile would be so useful. Until we can get the power/water situation sorted, I can’t move my horse, and I know how much everyone is dying for there to be critters back in the field to admire. I’d certainly enjoy not having animals in three different locations, and the associated daily driving to keep them all fed and pampered.

Solar Roof.jpg

There’s an interesting story behind the chickens. We’d always planned on having them, just not, you know, before we actually lived on the property. However, back in June, some lovely individual decided to dump two pet roosters on the farm, because leaving your helpless domesticated animal on a derelict property with foxes and coyotes completely absolves you from the guilt of doing something more humane, like giving them away or eating them. It was pure happenstance that Jason and I stopped by that day, and were immediately approached by a rooster asking for help. (We only know there were two due to a passerby. Sadly, we assume the other was eaten.) Sampson, as Mary Jane dubbed him, let me pick him right up and seemed super relieved. We stuck him in the corncrib, since it was the most secure place. After a few days he was looking rather lonely and depressed. Sucker that I am, I went on a girlfriend hunt for him, and found three hens on Craigslist. Mary Jane named them Delilah, Jezebel, and Salome. Because naming you hens after Bible bad girls is just awesome.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to get chickens to pose for pictures?!?

Do you have any idea how hard it is to get chickens to pose for pictures?!?

The ladies have been dutifully supplying us with 3 eggs a day ever since. I’ve honestly not had a whole lot of experience with keeping chickens. This is where Google and Chickens for Dummies are super helpful. Today, Delilah gifted us with a “fart egg” also known as a fairy egg and a variety of other folkloric names. Apparently, if I incubate it, I’ll hatch a Cockatrice. Seriously, I want one! Can’t you just picture how popular I’d be walking my dogs and the mini demon-spawn of a chicken and a serpent down the towpath?

Normal egg vs “fart egg”

Normal egg vs “fart egg”

Jason says no; I’m not allowed anything else that breathes unless it can earn its keep. Personally, I can conjure a dozen uses for a chicken-dragon, but I’ve been over-ruled. I guess that means, according to folkloric tradition, I have to launch it over the house (without touching the roof) to avoid bad luck. Damn, I’d rather have the pet.

Lia Nielsen