Know well the condition of your flock

by JR Martin, contributing writer

JR's chickens feeding

Night turns to daylight, and each day I pull on my boots and trek 50 yards to the chicken coop and pen that I built. There, the five hens pace back and forth against the fence in anticipation of the breakfast feed I carry in a bucket. 

After scattering the feed in the pen, I walk around to the back of the coop to unlatch the little door and peer into the nests where the hens lay their warm, brown eggs. Some days I find two, three or four—maybe even five eggs there.

Gathering these delicious eggs has benefits of late, beyond just a fresh egg to cook up each day for my own breakfast. The price of eggs soared this year, and the busy chickens have allowed me to sell the two or three dozen extra eggs I get each week. 

The need for building the coop came to me last spring. After tenderly caring for my best friend and canine companion, Otis, it was time to have him put to sleep. With Otis gone, I needed to take care of something, and I wasn’t yet ready for another dog. That’s when I decided to build the coop and then bought the laying hens to occupy it. Living alone in a log cabin I built as a young man some 40 years ago, I am now the chickens’ keeper. 

No food is ever wasted here, as the chickens will eat almost anything (even the cracked shells from their eggs that I cook.) Few things taste as good as a fresh brown egg. The yolks are as orange as the sun, and the taste is creamy and rich like warm bread smothered with butter. 

Some may find it odd that I live in this log cabin, without television or a computer. Although I remain connected to my loved ones and the world through my smart phone, I enjoy the solitude of nature, with a huge flock of wild turkeys always in the field across the road, the deer in the woods behind my house, and eagles gliding through the sky.

Now, as the weather turns warmer into spring I will grow my own plants: vegetables for supper and flowers for the table. With all of this nature and life around me, I find I do not miss the technology of the modern world—or the fast pace of it. 

As the days end and the nights settle in, my hens go into the coop to roost. They know that come daylight I will come by with their breakfast. I’ll open the little door and see that they’ve given me my breakfast, too. I think of all of this as Mother Nature saying hi. 


JR Martin lives in a log home in Salzburg, PA. He is a bluegrass music fan, guitar player, poet, and part-time landscaper.