Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Facing the fowl September 22, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:01 AM
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MY MOM PAUSED in our conversation. She wondered if she was hearing me right. I had just stated that I thought the chickens beautiful. Not all chickens. But these chickens.


Chickens, rooster


She had reason to question my observation. Ever since I was tormented and pecked at and chased by a rooster while growing up on our Minnesota farm, I have disliked chickens. I am afraid of them, of their flapping wings and sharp beaks and talons.


Chickens, patterned chicken


But these chickens were different. They are not plain white. And the rooster did not chase me.


Chickens, buff colored chicken


I was able to stand within feet of uncaged multi-colored fowl and appreciate their beauty. Sheen of blue in black feathers. Patterns of black and white. A beautiful buff. Chickens that were actually cute, if a chicken can be truly cute.


Chickens, black chicken


Even I surprised myself. I was not terrified. I did not scamper away. I drew the line, though, at cuddling the chickens belonging to friends Steve and Joy. Or at being inside a shed with a hen, gentle as she might appear. My trust is not quite that secure.


Chickens, flying chicken


And when a chicken flew onto a fence top, I ended the photo session. She was flapping a little too close for my comfort. I have memories of unhappy hens in the chicken coop who did not like their eggs stolen.


Chickens, coop


I will never really like chickens. But I am at least beginning to tolerate them. The pretty ones.

HOW ABOUT YOU? What’s your experience with chickens?

FYI:Β I first observed my friends’ chickens when they were running around the yard. I did not have my camera with me. But when I visited again, I had my camera. These images were taken then.

Β© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


32 Responses to “Facing the fowl”

  1. Marneymae Says:

    I love chickens! Or rather, hens.
    For the most part, I’ve had nasty experiences with roosters. Attacking me with their spurs & being aggressive.
    There was a young chick who’d run towards me & peck at my boot every time I came into the coop. She was the only one coming towards me while the others ran away in a scatter. As she grew up, and continued this coming towards me, I named her Scout. Over time we’d chat… I knew her voice. It was sweet, this friendly relation with an Arucana hen.
    She laid light blue eggs.

  2. Dan Traun Says:

    The experiences the shape our opinion on things is interesting. Some more than others. Chased and pecked as a child; I completely understand your outlook. They are very colorful, but I am not sure about cute. Makes me hungry from chicken πŸ™‚

  3. I like chickens at a distance too- love watching them but don’t need to hold them!

  4. Good for You – Baby Steps with the Chicken Tolerance – Beautiful Captures and Chickens πŸ™‚ I enjoy being around chickens and do not feel the need to hold let alone cuddle with one though – ha! I certainly would not want to be on the bad side of a chicken either – can be mean – but that is their way of telling you to back off, especially roosters.

    Happy Day – Enjoy πŸ™‚

  5. Mike S. Says:

    One of my after-school chores as a young boy was feeding the pigs. We had an old ornery rooster, the lone survivor of a weasel attack on our first flock, who always came after me when I entered the barn. I soon learned to smack him with the grain shovel and eventually established an uneasy truce. I think the weasel eventually came back and finished the job.

  6. Littlesundog Says:

    I grew up around chickens. My folks had a flock of 20 hens and my Grandparents had more than 200 – some were broasters and most were layers. They sold to the egg man twice a week. The broasters we butchered for meat – I never liked helping with that – animal lover that I am! I was never afraid of the hens though, and Grandma only had one rooster to look over the large flock of range roaming hens about the barnyard and he was ferocious. For us kids it was more of a game to open the barnyard gate, look both ways to assure the rooster wasn’t in sight, and then run like hell to the barn!! Grandma had been attacked by the rooster on more than one occasion and she always warned to proceed with caution! However, she explained to be fair to him, he was just doing his job and we accepted that. The funniest thing I remember was in Grandma’s house there were never any swear or cuss words and so we were told to call the poop, “Chicken Dirt” even though we called it chicken “shit” at home. My little sister Jodi never did get it right and she often argued that that stuff was NOT dirt, but shit!! Ha ha! Sorry you had such a bad experience with chickens. If we’d have been friends back then, I would have held your hand and we would have run like hell to safety! πŸ™‚

    • Thank you so much for sharing this personal story of chickens. I love the details you remember. They reveal a lot. Yes, I think we would have been good friends growing up. Especially if you would have helped me escape those chickens.

  7. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    I’ve never been around chickens but those chickens are sure pretty. I understand the fear of birds! Why do they always fly at your head? πŸ™‚

  8. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

    I have never been around chickens on a farm, just chickens at the State Fair (but not this year thanks to avian flu). I think they are fun to watch and I don’t think I would be afraid of them, but I have not had the experience of being pecked! Some of them have gorgeous feathers. Once, I suggested to Mick that we keep chickens in the back yard for fresh eggs. Roseville allows up to four chickens. Yeah, it’s the suburbs! Anyway, we never did get around to getting any.

  9. Susan Says:

    My grandparents had hundreds of chickens since they sold the eggs to stores. One day, I was about 10 years old, Grandpa told me I didn’t have to clean the barns if I stayed in the house and baked. Then he gave me a bucket full of eggs. They were the ones that were odd sizes and couldn’t be sold. But they’d bake up just fine. And he told me there were plenty more eggs so not to worry. That’s the day Betty Crocker and I became best friends. Ah, I still love to bake. Thank you Grandpa!

  10. hotlyspiced Says:

    It’s amazing how a terrible childhood experience can scar us for life. I love chickens and would like to have some in my backyard so I can go out in the morning and collect the eggs. Can’t do it where I currently living as there’s no where to put a chook pen! I think the brown chickens look more friendly than the white! xx

  11. Jackie Says:

    We used to catch the chickens on grandma’s farm, put their head underneath their wing, then hold them tight (one hand on each wing) and rock them between our legs while standing. It would put them to sleep. After a few minutes of swinging them we would sit them down on the ground and in a few seconds they’d pop their heads up and run off all dizzy. Grandma would have had our hides had she known what we were doing. Oh those crazy dizzy chickens πŸ™‚

  12. Sweet Posy Dreams Says:

    I don’t want to pick up live chickens, but I agree that some of them are very pretty.

  13. Thread crazy Says:

    I vaguely remember my grandfather having chickens…never paid them much mind as just plain white chickens. These in your pics are beautiful…especially the black and white one. Now I was chased and pecked by geese once and will never forget that. Love feeding the ducks n geese at parks but never will let them get close again.

  14. Judy Shank Says:

    I have always been deathly afraid of chickens. I don’t remember being chased or pecked. I just know I hate their beaks, their feathers, their eyes, yuk. But chicken is my favorite thing to eat.

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