(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on August 13, 2008. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)

Chicken Nightmare on WigglyPaw Farm

Imagechicken coop discussionsImageWinter Chicken Protest Meetings

I love to garden on our farm. I wait and plan all winter to see new growth happening in the spring, and so do my chickens, all 25 of them. They sit in their coop and hold discussions all winter long on how to drive me absolutely nuts with their chicken plots. They are very smart chickens, and I think they communicate in a secret chicken language amongst themselves.

ImageMr.Bocker showing fresh spring grass to his adoring harem of girl chickens

I love my chickens. Two have names; they are Mr. and Mrs. Bocker. They are black and white striped chickens with red short combs (called “rose combs”) that won’t freeze in the subzero weather. The name of this type of chicken is a Dominique. They are America’s first chicken and originally came here with the Pilgrims. Imagine that! These chickens can easily run around the farm and fields and scrounge up any bug or piece of delicacy that they spot. The rooster is a dear, and if he finds a bug, he will “cluck cluck cluck” and call all the hens over to eat the bounty. One cluck from him finds him surrounded by his “harem” of hens. If I ever need to get my chickens attention, I will go to Mr. Bocker and give him some corn on the ground and he will call the girls over. Easy as pie! This is where my major problems begin. The chickens see me as a mindless moron. Image

Busted~I caught her trying to dig up the daisies


<-- Recconaissance manuevers against me while planting// Chickens hiding and plotting---------------------------can you see them?Image

For instance, if I have to dig a hole and put in a plant, I have to plan it out like a battle plan. I have to blockade my actions, prepare for enemy fire and set up a defensive perimeter. I have been outsmarted too many times now and think I am a little brainier than a chicken, but the jury is still out on that. I see the enemy (the chickens) have sent out their own forward line and they have caught onto my actions. Drat! I see their reinforcements slinking up the sides of the yard, watching the head investigator. “What do I do now” I think? Leave my plant to get chicken wire to surround the planting site, or stand and fight them off with my arms waving and shouting, knowing full well that my actions will only encourage them to scurry around behind me and take my plant from the opposite direction? “What a dilemma I have put myself into this time” I muse. Stay or go, I am at a loss either way; the chickens have won the day again. I just can’t believe this, how stupid I am and how they manage every single time to get the best of me.

Image<-Rose in Jail Tulip Tree dug up by chickens->Image

Image<--Lilac in process of being dug up by chicken commando groups.They will return again and again

till it is totally out of the soil.

New Yew Dug Through and Through Boo Hoo---> Image

I have some plants by the barn in pots and if I walk away from the barn, those scheming chickens may or may not dig in the pots and dig out the plant and leave it gasping and dying on the concrete. I never know when my chickens will strike, or where. While I am cleaning up the depotted plants, the chickens will go over to a garden bush, usually new and fresh with hopes of growth all about it, and those chickens, with their long nails and group efforts will have that bush dug up and laying on its side before I can sneeze. I have not figured out yet how to best these chickens yet. It’s a real nightmare for me!

Image<---Rhododendron dug up and tossed aside like garbage

Image<---Thuja Green Giants in varying stages of chicken destruction

sources and credits:

Thuja Green giants courtesy of Mike Shade The Botany Garden,Missouri 2007

Rhododendron Purpureum elegans from Van Veen Nurseries

Rose in Jail: Morden Blush 2008

Liriodendron tulipfera and Syringa 2008 Ionia Co.Conservation District Plant Sale

Mr. and Mrs. Bocker gift from Tillers Foundation Intl.,Scotts, MI "Renewable resources for the world"

All pictures created and owned by Sheri Williams who stayed up very late trying to make them viewable