Pullet Surprise

Remember that backyard chicken project I mentioned awhile back? Yeah, well, look who’s on my writing desk:

She’s an Australorp chick. We have three of them and four Rhode Island Reds. They are living in my home office until they get big enough to reside outdoors in the magnificent coop my husband constructed for them, which I call the Taj MaHen.

The chicks are in a huge plastic tub with a heat lamp right next to my desk. Despite the 95-degree heat and constant rustling and chirping, I’ve got to say they are the most delightful co-workers I’ve ever had.

[X-posted at Rumproast]

52 replies
  1. 1
    WereBear says:

    Well, they got cuddly going for them. Currently dealing with co-worker angst; supposed to come to a head yesterday afternoon when I had an off site assignment.

    I have never loved birds; though there is nothing wrong with a good parrot or conure. Just don’t have my “Solomon’s Ring” with them the way I do with mammals.

  2. 2
    dr. bloor says:

    Taj MaHen.


    Please tell us they’re pets or for eggs and not for….other uses.

  3. 3
    Abo gato says:

    Can you please give us a picture of the Taj MaHen? We are considering getting some hens for our yard and my husband has been looking for coop designs. Would love to see what you have.

  4. 4
    Montysano says:

    Our friend’s chicken coop is known as the PulletBuro.

  5. 5
    c u n d gulag says:

    I thought maybe saying “Wanna pullet? Surprise!” is what got that guy shot in the cartoon preceding this post.

  6. 6
    VidaLoca says:

    I’ve got to say they are the most delightful co-workers I’ve ever had.

    Not exactly a ringing endorsement of your previous co-workers.

  7. 7
    beltane says:

    Chickens are fun. We got some Speckled Sussex pullets three years ago, and though they don’t lay as many eggs as they used to, they are such exceptionally friendly birds that my children now consider them to be pets.

  8. 8
    passerby says:

    Taj MaHen. Outstanding.

    Of course we’d like pictures once the girls get settled in. Please.

  9. 9

    Ahhhhhh. How cute.

    You are going to name them, yes? Although when they get a little older, they’ll develop more individual characteristics and will be easier to tell apart.

    But congratulations on your coworkers.

    [You lead a hard life, don’t you?]

  10. 10
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Taj MaHen. PulletBuro.
    I am LOLling and ROFLing here. And not even fully awake yet.
    Fick Chalet?
    Motel Chicks? (“We’ll leave the heat light on for you.”)

  11. 11
    Patrick says:

    At about 3 weeks, chicks start making a very fine dust. This will cover everything in your office. If your coop is done, I’d move them there soon. You can rig up a heat lamp in the coop. If you are worried, you can rig up two heat lamps in case one fails.

  12. 12
    Phylllis says:

    Great way to start the morning. We live in the city (pop. 3500-folks here are proud of the place) and hens & such are not allowed. Or I’d have a few in my yard.

  13. 13
    JPL says:

    Just the past week, there was a man who killed himself after running a fowl of the local laws. He lost money fighting city hall, trying to keep his chickens. He was jailed for three months and was unable to pay his mortgage. Long story short, his house was foreclosed on and when the marshals came to remove him, he poured gasoline and set the house on fire. BTW..Tom’s wife Betty Price is on the city-council. Regulations are thriving here in conservative land.

  14. 14
    SiubhanDuinne says:



    after running a fowl of the local laws

    What you did there, I saw it.

  15. 15
    MattF says:

    The obligatory link to Bill Grimes’ magnificent essay, “It Came. It Clucked. It Conquered.”:


    If you’ve never read this, drop everything and read it right now.

  16. 16
    JPL says:

    @MattF: Thanks for the link. I can’t believe you remembered the story, it took a few sentences before I realized that I had read it.

  17. 17
    passerby says:


    Thanks for that. An enjoyable read with my morning cup. Think I’ll eggs for breakfast.

  18. 18
    currants says:

    Can’t BELIEVE I’m thinking about chickens for my backyard. Things must be worse than I thought.

    Fun reads!

  19. 19
    keestadoll says:

    @Abo gato: Go online and search for “Living the Country Life.” It’s a fabulous publication and have many articles on this and other home garden DIY concepts .

  20. 20
    dr. bloor says:


    No need to worry until you get to the canned-goods-in-the-backyard-bunker stage.

  21. 21
    keestadoll says:

    @Phylllis: Start a petition to change that! Most of the time, it’s a rooster issue, but you don’t need roosters to have the eggs and you’ll also be surprised how many will want to change the ordinance.

  22. 22
    Elizabelle says:

    That is one good looking chick.

    More blogging, please, about Taj MaHen.

    (And Pulletburo and “Motel Chicks”?) Why I come here …

  23. 23
    Josie says:

    OMG, I am so jealous. I have wanted chickens for a long time now, but I live in the city limits, and they don’t allow farm animals. Maybe if I got some really fancy ones and called them pets, it would work. I would love to see pictures of the chicks and the coop and updates on their progress.

  24. 24
    urlhix says:

    Watching “chicken TV” is one of life’s simple pleasures.

  25. 25
    Betty Cracker says:

    @dr. bloor: Strictly for eggs and company, Dr. B. I couldn’t eat a chicken I know personally. In fact, since we got the chicks, I’ve avoided eating chicken at all.

  26. 26
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Abo gato: I’ll definitely post more pictures of the chicks and coop. Actually, I misspoke about the coop — we ordered a coop for them; the thing my husband built that I’m calling the Taj MaHen is a gigantic hen house that contains the coop. We have a couple of largish dogs, so the chickens will have to stay in the hen house unless the dogs are inside the house. They’ll have plenty of space to roam.

  27. 27
    Jager says:

    Somewhere in my Mom’s (RIP) stuff is a picture of my little sister (about 4 at the time) sitting in the brooder house on my grand parent’s farm completely covered with baby chicks.

    When you eat fresh eggs you notice not only the taste but they hardly spread out when you crack them in the pan.

  28. 28
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Linda Featheringill: The kids are already naming them, but I find them hard to tell apart right now. I’m sure it’ll be easier when they’re older.

  29. 29
    Betty Cracker says:

    @MattF: That was a great read. Thanks!

  30. 30
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Jager: Definitely looking forward to the eggs. My dad had a small farm, and I still remember how delicious the fresh eggs were.

  31. 31
    Mnemosyne says:

    For all that we are a large urban area, Los Angeles has surprisingly rural pockets even in the middle of the city. My city of 200,000 allows residents to keep up to 12 “rabbits, hares, chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, pigeons or pheasants or any combination thereof” in your backyard.

    And let’s not even get into the weirdness of exiting the 5 freeway to Riverside Dr. and having to wait for someone to walk their horse across the street to ride in Griffith Park.

    ETA: There’s also Richland Farms in Compton. Yes, that Compton.

  32. 32
    WereBear says:

    @Mnemosyne: I remember the writer/creator of The Waltons kept chickens in LA.

  33. 33
    g says:

    Also in a rural pocket of LA, I think I have the best of both worlds – I don’t keep chickens but my neighbor does and their little boy delivers a dozen eggs to us every Sunday morning!

    The eggs are beautiful, green and brown and white.

  34. 34
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    @Betty Cracker: I had 3 Great Danes and 2 ducks. They got along fine. Although I do know some dogs chase chickens, my friend had 3 chickens, a lab and a golden and they all got along well. But as always, YMMV.

  35. 35
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    Of course I had a cat and a chinchilla that were best of friends, too, so maybe my house is just unique.

  36. 36
    R-Jud says:

    My daughter’s nursery school class just hatched some chicks in an incubator. They were asked to draw a picture of what they would do if the chicks lived at home with them.

    The four-year-old girl my daughter sits with drew a picture of her family crying by a bunch of bloody feathers while the family cat smiled.

  37. 37
    Yutsano says:

    @TaMara (BHF): It’s very particular to the dog. My mom has two border collies. One will just herd the chickens for fun and profit. The other will descend upon them like great brown/white Death. But she’s very much an oddity for her breed. She’s killed wild pheasants and ducks as well.

  38. 38
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    @Yutsano: My first Dane and my brother’s lab mix escaped the yard together and went on an hour of fun and destruction. When I finally caught up with them, they both had white chicken feathers sticking out of their mouths and stuck to their fur. I didn’t see any blood, so in denial, I told myself they just got a mouth of tail feathers and rushed them back home.

  39. 39
    Comrade Mary says:

    What an adorable little dinosaur! (Well, she IS, really. The “Australorp ” part just emphasizes the connection.)

  40. 40
    Gravenstone says:

    Just remember, chicks are only “cute” for the first couple weeks. Once they start molting, blech, the cute goes straight away. Of course, if you raised them in your younger years, you know this.
    And for those of you contemplating raising chickens for the first time, their droppings will make your eyes water. Smells of ammonia as it ripens.
    We would raise a couple hundred a year for meat (along with 15-20 turkeys). I do miss a nice, farm raised chicken that was free to run and scratch for taste.

  41. 41
    Yutsano says:

    @TaMara (BHF): “O HAI MOM! Ur present got away, sry bout that!” :)

  42. 42
    ruemara says:

    I’ve always wanted chickens here at the farmhouse (our house looks like french country house) but, alas. Let us know how the grand avian experiment goes. I can’t wait to hear about the first eggs.

  43. 43
    Msskwesq says:

    I want chickens! In Iowa City we have been trying to get the law against them changed, with no success. Even Chicago allows chicken keeping (but no roosters for obvious reasons.)

  44. 44
    Mnemosyne says:


    The baby chick hatchery at the Museum of Science and Industry breeds Black Java chickens, which are endangered. If you visit on a reasonably slow day, you will not be able to prevent the guy who supervises the hatchery from explaining the entire story to you.

  45. 45
    Warren Terra says:

    You should never name a structure your husband builds for you after the Taj Mahal; with a little knowledge of why the real one was built it seems morbid.

    Buckinghen Palace, perhaps? The Vatic-hen? Eggsinore, home of Omelette? The Al-hen-bra?

  46. 46
    Beauzeaux says:

    “the Taj MaHen”

    NO! That’s what we call our chicken coop!! With exactly the same intercap.

    I am stunned. Distraught. Amazed, even.

    (It started out to be a simple coop using mostly spare lumber we had around. It evolved into a building project worthy of Dubai.) When I saw the completed version I concluded we could always live in it ourselves if times got rougher.

  47. 47
    Carl Nyberg says:

    FWIW, my uncle was keeping both Rhode Island Reds and a heritage breed of chicken that was smaller and the RIRs were pretty tough on the smaller birds.

  48. 48
    Beauzeaux says:

    @Warren Terra: Love it. Since I can’t bear sharing with Betty, I’ll rechristen our coop as Buckinghen Palace.

  49. 49
    HyperIon says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    You are going to name them, yes?

    My Austrolorp is named Orprah.
    She’s a real eater. But doesn’t say much..mostly the occasional “Bock”.

    A very compact hen and pleasant to be around.

  50. 50
    Kolohe says:

    Finally, some pix of hot black chicks on this blog.

  51. 51
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Good to hear.

    That’s a very cute chick!

  52. 52
    Julie says:

    My sister has three chickens that were all dyed Easter chicks that different friends stupidly bought for their kids without the faintest plan for what they were going to do with chickens. She took them in out of pity even though she’d never owned chickens before.
    Two are little tiny things, a speckled hen and a gray hen with bellbottom pants. The other is a big red hen that has a separate coop. The egg sizes correspond to the chicken sizes. She likes having them around but doesn’t plan to get more when they’re gone.

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