How Henny Penny Came To Rule the Roost



I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but when reporters are interviewing people on the radio news, especially in so-called third world countries, there are often roosters crowing or hens clucking in the background. I think I know what’s going on. Chickens are using the airways to signal each other about the latest advances in their conquest of the backyards of the world. All that cockadoodledooing and clucketyclucking translates into “we shall overcome. No more egg factories.”

I got a huge kick out of what a respondent on this blogsite, Betty, wrote recently— that she had heard about cases of salmonella popping up from people kissing their hens. I can believe it. People kiss their dogs and cats, so why not their chickens. My only problem is where do you kiss a chicken?

Chickens are well on their way to ruling the roost including the human part of it. It all started when people discovered that hens make good pets. I can just imagine what the historians will write. It will go something like this:
The discovery that hens make nice pets was the turning point into the era of All Local Food. Humans found out that they could talk to chickens just the way they could talk to cats and dogs, and so they quickly trained their feathered pets to use litter boxes placed strategically under their night perches. Well at least most of the time, as with cats and dogs. From then on, hens ruled the roost. If they needed a coat to go outside in cold weather, coats were provided. If Little Red Hen demanded exotic foods she got them, hang the cost. As John Emrich wrote in his 2014 book, The Local Yolk, when he found out that Chicagoans were renting cars and driving out to organic farms to pay $25 for a sack of organic feed, he started a successful business servicing backyard hens. All sorts of organic farms sprang into existence providing vitamin and mineral rich wild weed seed and exotic insects for the purest organic protein and ancient heritage grains, seeds of which were discovered in storehouses in an Egyptian pyramid, pure of any chemical or genetically modified defilement. Nothing was too good for Henny Penny, whether the sky was falling or not. Still cheaper than playing golf.

But the real reason pet chickens came to rule the roost was because cats and dogs can’t lay eggs. In the new era, the hen egg became the main icon of human civilization. Although once deemed nearly poisonous back in the dark ages of the late twentieth century, science discovered that not only did eggs not clog arteries, but were indeed the almost perfect food, rich in proteins and minerals, especially when laid by a hen allowed to live in the natural world of the backyard. The egg could be turned into countless delicious foods, fried, boiled, pickled, turned into hundreds of different omelets, pasta, pastries, quiche, custards, an ingredient in fact of most human foods. All of this from a beautifully-feathered pet that could fill house or yard with lovely, trilling music. And in payment, this wonderful pet would supply you for free with fertilizer for your garden.

As if this were not heaven enough, this same wondrous creature was the source of an amazing variety of soups and meats, and as human culture eased into the high tide of the Nearly Free Food era, all those who opted for meat in their diets got used to the idea of eating some of their pets as eons of farmers had learned to do in previous eras. Who would ever had thought that by the year 2050, almost every human household had become nearly food independent and every weekend filled with coq au vin and hen song, which coincidentally, both of which medical science had learned, could reduce human stress-related illnesses. Earth had been transformed into a sort of paradise, and, having been warned by Henny Penny, humanity kept the sky from falling too.


Chicken diapers? Absolutely! I Googled “chicken diapers” just now and found SIX (6!) sellers of chicken diapers in just the first two pages.

If you have a chicken that’s sick or injured, and you want to keep her in the house to recuperate, you can put a diaper on her so she can spend a little time walking around your house without leaving chicken droppings on your carpet. Of course, she should spend the night in a cage without the diaper.

deb h. This is a good place to stick stuff. My email is out of control. Thanks so much. If parnsips brighten the mood, then I should definitely be eating them in January. The month I could do without. Gene Losgdon.

dear mr. logsdon,
one of your thousands of groupies here.
you recently wrote about parsnips.
here is a snippet from thre magazine woman’s world;
parsnips brighten your mood
parsnips- which have a sweet , nutty taste– rev your brain’s output of the ‘happiness’ hormone serotonin, and they’re chock full of folate, a mood-brightening B vitamin that ups energy!
nordic anti-aging tip; try parsnips nordic style–steamed and tossed with butter and parsley; boiled in chunks and served with dill; sauteed with butter and brown sugar; or pureed with cream and nutmeg!

december9,2013 page 20

daddy only ever ate them chunked or mashed with butter or mixed and mashed in with the mashed potatoes.
couldn’t find an email address so i just stuck it in here.
deb harvey

Very funny.

Gene, I can’t believe that after all these years that you don’t know that you kiss a chicken on its lips.

I have advocated for pro-chicken ordinances in the Townships and Borough surrounding the enormous State University near our rural valley. Three good and two to go. One of the selling points is the chicken’s habit of eating pet insects (ticks) that have become endemic in our area. They are also much more quiet than dogs. And the eggs are to die for.

You mention that chickens are everywhere on the radio reports from around the world. If you saw the video of those reports you would see them roosting on and scratching around the other most ubiquitous item on this earth. The resin lawn chair.

Have you hugged your chicken today?

thetinfoilhatsociety January 15, 2015 at 11:36 am

They’re definitely not as smart nor as socialized to humans as our cats, but yes they are entertaining and they do seem loving in their own chicken way. Ours are most certainly spoiled! They are *not* coming in the house though.

Thanks, Gene!
I’m pretty sure (memory fails more often recently) I read about two women in Connecticut selling diapers for chickens, so the ladies (the hens, not the women) can come in to the house. You can’t make some stuff up.
John Emrich
The Local Yolk

DancingHairWoman, I tell folks all the time that the only comparable (to your organic eggs from the backyard coop) store-bought brand of organic eggs from pastured hens is “Vital” brand, and they cost anywhere from $6-$8 a dozen, depending on where you live. And those aren’t local, which is increasingly more important than “certified organic” to the consumer. So that’s the market!

It I counted up the cost of all the free range chickens that I have lost to predation and my own d&#$! dog, I bet those orange-yolked beauties would cost me more than $8/doz! What can I say, I’m addicted!

beautiful post, seems the chickens are succeeding at ruling the world by having us tend them, a win-win for all!

Great post Gene. I am currently reading a book titled “Why Did the Chicken Cross the World? The Epic Saga of the Bird That Powers Civilization” by Andrew Lawler. It is a serious and fascinating book that is a great read for the cold snowy days of Ohio. I smile everytime I hear that special clucking when my hens hear or see me coming with kitchen scraps. Although my friends and colleagues cannot understand how I can care so much for and be so attached to chickens (let alone enjoy one of my beloved hens once she is spent in chicken noodle soup) they have no problems paying for and eating the most delicious eggs they have ever tasted. My girls don’t get exotic organic weed seed or insects. However they do enjoy all the insects, weed seeds, and local GMO free grain their hearts desire. One last thing Gene, several years ago I read in one of your books (or articles or posts) about using leaves raked in the Fall as bedding for chickens in Winter. What a great idea! There is no shortage of leaves for composting and to cover the garden. My girls relish the deep leaf litter. There must be a ton of seeds and/or dead insects that I cannot see in the leaves because my girls go crazy scratching, pecking, and eating everytime I put fresh leaves in the coop. Plus all the extra scratching and mixing makes the best deep litter compost I have ever had. Again thank you for your ideas and most importantly your INSPIRATION to all of us contrarians.

What a timely post.
I just returned from driving one hundred miles to buy fifteen chickens to restock my flock. Our hens were getting old and tired. Time to boost egg production and keep my boy scout chicken boy in egg money for camp this summer.
After checking craigslist I found what I thought was a good deal on some young chickens. After making the drive I discovered these hens had been crossed with banties and might not lay the size egg we desired.
We made the drive and decided to test it, fifteen times. So we spent thirty minutes grabbing the clucks, put them in boxes and drove home.
They are settling in nicely but our egg production hasn’t increased as yet. Perhaps a mutiny? It’s only been three days. Probably just taking some time out to socialize before getting down to business. It is business, ladies.
I’m amazed at the price of home grown, fresh organic eggs. We started out at $2.50 dozen a year ago and are currently at $3.50. When I check the prices in the store and talk to other backyard chicken farmers I’m hearing as much as $8.00 dozen. Feed has gone up and reluctantly, we’ll have to raise our prices too very soon.
This spring we’ll have to increase the size of our chicken coop and pen. For now though, it’s raining, and fresh straw weekly in the nesting boxes will have to do.
I have a feeling some of those girls will end up in the soup pot this spring.

I am still waiting for the first chicken cemetery to pop up in Louisville, Ky…..I believe that will happen before we see a glut of chicken and dumplings. We will see…..

Ahhh, just when I’d about given up on hope for the future. Thanks, Gene!!

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