Captivating chickens

Some of my chickens are ready to lay. Their combs and lobes are flush red. Some have not begun to change over yet- but several are ready. I watch them throughout the day to see where they are laying their eggs.

They peck through the compost heap, first landing on the rim and then diving down into the refuse and leaves that are rotting.  As they break down, they become the compost that will feed next year’s tomatoes.  The tomatoes will turn into fodder for the hornworms and us. I hate the hornworms.  The chickens love them however.

They climb on top of the brush pile and waddle back and forth on the maple stripling like an overweight gymnast on a balance beam. They do not disappear into the body of the pile, electing to remain in plain sight. They are clearly not laying there.

The flock begins to break into smaller groups. Some of the chickens head into the woods. Some go down to the orchard. Some for some inexplicable reason take to the road. Why did the chicken cross the road? Probably not to lay an egg, as far as I can surmise.

I follow after and watch them a bit. One resents the invasion of her privacy and she lets me know.  She makes guttural noises at me that let me know I am not welcome.  I am bigger than her though so after a few minutes she seems resigned to having me there and goes about her business.

They drift further into the woods.  Zuzu, the mediocre farm dog, takes issue with them and chases them back towards the clearing.  They register their disgust at this perceived slight.  They will not stand to have Zuzu’s order imposed upon them.  They wait for me to admonish the dog for riling them up, and then they continue on their voyage.

They peck at the exposed insulation around the foundation. I chase them off.  It is a Sisyphean task, and I am outmatched.  I have a job to do, and I always leave.  They simply bide their time until I am gone and go back to pecking at the side of the house.

I do not have the time to stay all day. I have other things I must do, or should do today. I take one last sip of my coffee before heading out to start the day. I will check the woods when I get home, but the chances of me finding an egg are slim. Tomorrow, I will just lock them into their coop.

Lucas Rumler

About Lucas Rumler

I’m originally from the land of Soybeans and Corn- growing up the tallest thing in our town was the grain elevator. I moved to Maine in 2008 as part of Americorps. I fell in love with the state, and then the Saint who would eventually become my wife (much to her dismay on most days). We settled in her hometown- Mount Vernon which had been our plan since we started dating. We are active and involved in our community, we homestead, and we both work full time. We are trying to balance the stresses of living and working in this state while at the same time trying to strengthen our little corner of the world. My ambitions for our homestead do not necessarily line up with my competency, capacity, or free time. I am an apple nerd with no knowledge, a beekeeper who keeps hope alive- but maybe not my bees, a gardener who is trying desperately to figure out a niche market for the only things I can successfully grow (ragweed and crabgrass), and a backyard carpenter who has never made a straight cut or a level table- and doesn’t see any real reason to start now. I hope that this blog can help document my continuing failures and occasional successes as we continue to build our lives in our Village. I am active and involved in our local community, and I have been recently nominated by the Cat as the best male blogger. You can contact me at, on Facebook at, or by mail at 46 Weston Road, Mount Vernon, ME 04352.