Animals In Appalachia Appalachia

Chicken Update


It’s been forever since I told you anything about our chickens. We still have them. Unbelievably we still have two of the original hens, Polly and Gertrude. They’re still laying pretty green eggs and they’re still feisty.

Rex turned out to be a very mean rooster. He was full game and got so bad the girls and I refused to pay the chickens any attention. The Deer Hunter finally caved to our whining and Rex ended up living in Junaluska where he had more room to roam. But even that didn’t change his devilish ways.

For the next couple of years we didn’t have a rooster. The Deer Hunter bought three Buff Orpingtons from a fine young man living just up the road from where Rex vacated to in Junaluska. A rooster (see him in the photo above) and two hens.

The hens lay pretty brown eggs and the rooster couldn’t be nicer. He takes care of the hens and only does his side step drag wing thing at The Deer Hunter. We named him Bo, but I think we should have named him Dapper Dan. He has the prettiest orange feathers you ever seen. I swear it looks like he puts a fresh coat of sheen on every day.

When we first got chickens, Pap said we’d never keep them alive so close to the woods. We have lost several chickens over the years, but all have been from natural causes or aggression from other chickens, which I guess is a natural cause too.

Not that critters haven’t tried to get the chickens. In fact they’ve tried so much that we’ve started piling rocks and boards around the base of the pen to stop up the holes. The weather has deteriorated the wood on the lot and as time goes by its easier for night time visitors to find a way in. Thankfully their house is still tight and since they’re locked up at night they’re safe at least in the darkness.

We wanted to re-do the chicken lot last summer, but between the rain and our busy lives it never happened. It pretty much has to happen this year or Pap’s warning will most definitely come true and I’ll no longer have my wonderful backyard eggs.


Appalachian Cooking Class details

Come cook with me!

Location: John C. Campbell Folk School – Brasstown, NC
Date: Sunday, June 23 – Saturday, June 29, 2019
Instructors: Carolyn Anderson, Tipper Pressley

Experience the traditional Appalachian method of cooking, putting up, and preserving the bounty from nature’s garden. Receive hands-on training to make and process a variety of jellies, jams, and pickles for winter eating. You’ll also learn the importance of dessert in Appalachian culture and discover how to easily make the fanciest of traditional cakes. Completing this week of cultural foods, a day of bread making will produce biscuits and cornbread. All levels welcome.

Along with all that goodness Carolyn and I have planned a couple of field trips to allow students to see how local folks produce food for their families. The Folk School offers scholarships you can go here to find out more about them. For the rest of the class details go here.

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  • Reply
    Tony Maynard
    March 20, 2019 at 1:35 pm

    I just recently retired and am going to try raising chickens.It will be a chore as far as the critters go.Grandkids will enjoy them I’m sure.Enjoyed the post Tipper!

  • Reply
    March 14, 2019 at 8:45 pm

    I miss eggs! I’ve haven’t replaced hens in the past three years or so, and now have just one sweet retired Buff Orp hen from my last little flock, and her companion Captain Hastings, a very handsome Campine rooster. The two of them have what I call their assisted-living apartment – this winter has been so hard I moved them into the stilt barn next to the goats, and have been keeping a heatlamp on just for the two of them at night. Sometimes I make them a hot breakfast, by adding warm water to their food. Actually, today they had leftover vegetable soup mixed in with their grub. I am kind of a sap 🙂

  • Reply
    Janice Chapman
    March 13, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    We lost the last of our chickens last week. They have been slowly decimated by critters, owls and hawks. We will probably start over again fairly soon. I really miss those good eggs!

  • Reply
    Sallie R Swor (The Apple Doll Lady)
    March 13, 2019 at 10:40 am

    The reference to spring peeps reminds me of a story my grandmother told and I recently discovered the story may be universal. She never said anything off-color so we were surprised at her telling this story. She said once there was a woman on a crowded rural bus with a box of peeps. Somehow the box opened and the peeps escaped. As she was bent over trying to catch them she “popped off”. An old drunk on the back of the bus said, “Okay, lady. If you can’t catch ’em, shoot ’em”. My grandmother would tell that story and laugh and we laughed as much for her telling it as the story itself. I thought it really happened locally. Imagine my surprise to pick up a book of folk stories this summer while visiting Australia and the same story, almost word for word, was the first story in that book.

    I grew up with chickens that were “free range” in the yard. I still love brown eggs and the meat cooked almost any way but not what I stepped in when playing barefoot. Some are really pretty as you describe, especially red roosters, but for me they need to stay outside the house. I notice in some magazines now they are shown inside kitchens, on upholstered furniture, and in people’s arms. Outsmarting the hungry wild critters is a challenge. Good luck.

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    March 13, 2019 at 10:23 am

    I have wanted to have chickens but our area wont allow them….the color is beautiful on those golden chickens…and id love those eggs you blow the yolk out and make ornaments out of the shells? easter is coming….
    hope you and your beautiful family are well…we are hoping spring finally stays one of these days lol
    big ladybug hugs

  • Reply
    March 13, 2019 at 9:34 am

    I love Tipper when you talk about chickens. We have chickens and we absolutely love them. I have a few of mine named also. Little Bit, Goldy, Tiny, Mabel. I go out to feed them and here they all come running. They will squat down and i pet em. We use to have 150 some and i said they have to go. So we sold em. The ones we have now, we raised from babies. They have kept us in eggs all yr round. We sell them too. Guys buy them where my husband works. There is nothing better than a farm fresh egg. I like the picture of yours to Tipper. My kitchen is all chickens. God Bless

  • Reply
    March 13, 2019 at 9:09 am

    My daughter’s chickens have been free roamers for the last year or so. Her boys used to lock them up at night but still ended up losing some to coons that got in their house. Now that the chickens roost in trees, they aren’t disappearing nearly as fast. My dog and a neighbor’s dog will feast on a raw chicken every chance they get. I always heard that once a dog gets the taste of chicken blood he will kill again and again.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    March 13, 2019 at 8:16 am

    You all would have enjoyed the story Mountain Man Bob told last April at the Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, TN. It was about a mean rooster named Alloiscous. I think I posted about it before when the subject of mean roosters came up but I dis-remember.

    Do you all still have the two turkeys that came and took up with the chickens?

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 13, 2019 at 7:56 am

    Tip, fresh eggs are wonderful, store eggs are just no comparison! I have a lady in Haysville that I’ve been buying eggs from for a couple of years. She calls them yard chickens cause they are not in a pen. I’ve never thought to ask her if she has any critter problems.
    Ken, it’s nice to have you back with us, I missed you!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    March 13, 2019 at 7:44 am

    Tipper–Grandpa Joe would have had a ready answer for Rex the troublesome rooster, and it wouldn’t have been a vacation to Junaluska. That yard bird would have made some mighty fine eating on Grandma Minnie’s table.

    Like Ken, I have all sorts of fond memories of chickens: A mislick on the chopping block and a chicken running around with its head only part cut off. Grandpa dealing with egg-sucking dogs and egg-eating blacksnakes by “blowing” an egg and replacing the insides with hot pepper sauce. How he caught them when one (or more) was needed for a special meal–it was an amazing process involving a cane fishing pole. But most of all there was Momma’s fried chicken. I’ve been writing about it recently in connection with a book on mountain food memories I’m doing. My siblings and I agree on the basic steps involved in Momma’s chicken-frying wizardry, but we also agree there was something none of us have been able to replicate.

    This is the time of year we (Grandpa) always restocked on chickens. Sometimes he let his hens take care of repopulating the chicken lot, but more often it involved the purchase of a bunch of peepers (chicks) from the Farmers Federation.

    One question–do you let your chickens wander during the day, especially in late summer when there are goodies galore for them to eat? Incidentally, they love tomatoes to the extent they’ll half starve themselves to death if the tomato-eating opportunity exists.

    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    March 13, 2019 at 6:49 am

    When I was a little boy, I grew up with about 75 Chickens in the yard. We’d catch a possum about every night cause the chickens roosted in the laurel thicket behind our house. Soon as our feists heard the chickens stirring, our four feists would tree that booger, and me or one of my brothers would get the .22 rifle and shoot the thing out.

    One time we had a huge black snake to swallow a setting hen. Daddy got the flashlite and hoe and under the floor he went. He drug a blacksnake that was longer than the hoe-handle and cut into it’s belly, but the chicken was already gone.

    Daddy worked for the Seaonies across from the Topton Baptist Church. They were Super+Rich and they liked the way Daddy laid rocks. The Seaonies inherited a Shipping lane from New York to Britain and owned many ships. Daddy took me into their Bomb Shelter on time, and I was amazed at all the little ships they built.

    When you live on a farm, you encounter lots of different things. …Ken

  • Reply
    March 13, 2019 at 5:32 am

    Yep, keeping the critters out is a chore, we have them all around here, even living as close to a 4 lane highway as we do now, the evidence is usually laying dead in its tracks, you’d think they’d be thinned out by now.

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