Saturday, August 04, 2012

The Truth About Chicken Photoshoots


It all started when Lydia escaped.

Lydia is either a uniquely independent hen, or else she's one of the most stupid creatures to walk this earth. She was the chick who would wedge her face into the corner of the brooder, in order to avoid the terrors that tormented her tiny chicken self. At least I think that's what she was doing. For all I know, she was plotting world domination.

After chasing her around the back yard for a while, I decided that neither Lydia nor I were accomplishing much of anything. I got my camera and my coffee, and let her roam. I hadn't taken chicken pictures in ages.

The thing about chicken photography is that once I start, I convince myself that I need to photograph everyone.

We had the hens out in the portable pen, and Anne Elliot started to fuss, and make "I need to lay an egg" noises. So I carried her over to the hen house. Anne Elliot was the hen I was most worried would turn into a rooster, and was also our first layer. She's a beauty.

When Robb built our chicken coop, we had no experience with chickens. We read everything we could, and talked the project to death, but we really didn't know if the chickens would thrive in their home.

As it turned out, we had nothing to worry about. Once Anne Elliot reached chicken puberty, she suddenly noticed the nest boxes that she'd previously ignored. When she needs to lay an egg, she climbs into her little nest and makes herself at home.

It's all so adorably chicken-y.

(We're not sure why, but today Anne Elliot laid a strangely wrinkled egg. It looked more like a lizard's egg than a hen's. The shell was quite hard, so we figure that her egg laying system is still developing.)

Once the candid photos had been taken, we progressed to more formal portraiture.

When she was a chick, Isabella was greedy and a bit of a bully. But she didn't end up being Top Hen. Like our crazy Lydia, she's an Easter Egger, and should start laying blue-green eggs some time soon.

Harriet is probably my favorite hen. Oddly, she seems to think that I'm her rooster. When I approach her, she crouches down in a submissive posture, and lets me pick her up for a cuddle. (I have to chase all the other birds, if I want to handle them.)

Harriet was supposed to lay chocolate-brown eggs, but all we've gotten from her are tiny light brown eggs, with a strange patchy surface. We'll see if this changes as she continues to mature.

And here's where the truth about chicken photography comes out. It may sound like we've got things under control, but that would be stretching the truth. Somewhere in the middle of our photo shoot, Harriet freaked out, catapulted out of my arms, flew over my shoulder and then scrambled up my back onto my head.

Chickens have extremely strong toes, and sharp claws. Having a large scared bird clinging on one's head is an uncanny sensation, to be sure.


Amber said...

Ah, yes... chickens perched on heads are very common in our yard too =o) Oddly enough my son loves to have a chicken perched on his head, and it is even better if he can convince more than one to perch there at a time!

Stefaneener said...

It looks like an advanced form of modern dance. "Urban Ag Rhapsody" or something.

They do have bizarre personalities, they do lay bizarre eggs (wait for a shell-less one, eeek), and they are a lot of fun.

Magic Cochin said...

Brilliant hen portraits (it's so hard to get good shots of them - I know all too well!)
I love the photo of Anne Elliot on her nest - you have very stylish hens!


PS Just a tip - is that hay/grass in the nest? Looks lovely but I was told it's not advised, mould on grass could cause breathing probs and long grass leaves, if eaten, can cause sour-crop or blockages.

Anonymous said...

I really love to read blog posts about hens:)

your's seems to be real personalities:)

laura said...

very pretty chickens! i love it when chickens submit. i like to rough them up a little between the shoulder blades and watch them puff up afterwards. :)

Sarah said...

I love how you turned the frustration of catching your hen into a photo session! Your pictures turned out lovely. Oh yes, and perched on top of heads are definitely a favorite hen spot :)


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