Monday, September 20, 2010

My friends, the chicken whisperers

I never told the story of what I got to do on Labor Day afternoon two weeks ago and this is an event that, for me, can't go unmentioned. Why? Well, I finally got to visit my chicken mentors, Tonya and Kao, at their home (and chicken paradise).

I first mentioned Tonya and Kao about a year ago when one of my sweet Barred Rock hens, Bippity, came down with some odd ailment. It was clear my girl wasn't feeling well and I was beside myself with worry. One phone call to Tonya and before I knew it, both she and Kao were here at Critter Farm, giving Bippity a full exam:

The fact that our homes are about an hour apart and it was a work night didn't even phase them - you can read about this night (and their prescription for Bippity, who made a complete recovery) by clicking here.

I first "met" Tonya and Kao through a Yahoo group called PDX Backyard Chickens (the PDX is an abbreviation for Portland). This is an online support group for local chicken owners to ask questions and share experiences with other chicken lovers. Tonya and Kao are renowned within this chicken community for their vast chicken-keeping knowledge and their unbelievable kindness.

Aside from providing unlimited support to this ever growing community, they also adore every one of their own 60+ hens (and yes, even the one still-developing rooster) and can not only identify every single one by name (KC (aka Kitchen Chicken), T-Rex, Honey, DooDad, Dancy, etc.) but can tell me the precise breed (and mixed breed) that they are.

Here's Kitchen Chicken coming in (to the kitchen) for a bite to eat:

Look at this adorable little playhouse-turned-chicken coop:

This is Boots. I think she liked me:

Every time I turned around, there she'd be, hovering around my feet.

I finally bent over and scooped her up and she didn't mind a bit! For a good portion of the time, I just carried Boots all over the property and we had a great time. (She whispered in my ear that she'd like to come to my house for a sleepover, but we still need to discuss that with her mom):

It was wonderful spending time with both Tonya and Kao and hearing them tell me -in person- about all their pretty birds. And then there was the car. Can you see it down the hill in the distance?

Yup. A 1960 cascade green Corvette...and Kao took me for a ride:

I had *the* biggest smile on my face.

And my Jim was delighted to go for a ride with Kao, too:

Back at Rancho de Kao, Tonya shared some of her chicken tricks:

They even have two White-Crested Black Polish hens in their flock. This is what my sweet Dottie's head would look like...if her coop mates didn't keep picking on her:

Hi again, pretty Boots:

It was a delightful afternoon and evening - made even more incredible then by the fantastic meal they prepared for us. Wonderful conversation and fabulous tri-tip on the grill...:

...and homemade (I watched Kao make it!) strawberry ice cream. - yum:

If you own backyard chickens, I hope you are fortunate enough to have a chicken mentor. In my case, I am beyond fortunate because I have two.

P.S. If you recall seeing the great carrot tonic for chickens that I posted here a year ago, this invaluable health aid, of course, came from Tonya and Kao, too: chicken tonic recipe.


  1. Fabulous post, Danni. What fun to have a chicken pro so close by. I'm thinking Boots would love a sleep over at Critter Farm!

  2. I so wish I had a Tonya and Kao. I need a chicken mentor and haven't found one locally at all. I am learning so much from my bloggy buddies, including you. I am going to try that carrot tonic for sure. These are some beautiful birds and the playhouse is just adorable.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Amy at Verde Farm

  3. Thank you for sharing, I too have chickens. We've not had any health issues, only Fox issues. But I now know where to turn if any should arise. Love the photos

  4. "who would've thunk"! Seriously, I haven't thought that 1. chickens could be so much fun and endearing to have 2. people would have that much passion over them if they weren't making money off them by selling them 3. that chickens are awfully cute and have personality.

    You have opened my eyes and one day I'll actually have me some chickens! Too fun!

  5. Wonderful post! And great info. Nice Corvette too.

  6. It was fun getting to show off the girls. Trying to describe them just doesn't do them the justice of having someone come over to meet them. That and it is always fun to sneak out into the yard then call them while watching the expression on the visitors face as 60 chickens race each other to get to us. :-)

  7. Aren't Tonya and Kao great? We were so thankful to have their excellent advice, and then chicken-intervention kindness with our own Speedy - who enjoyed the last days of her life in opulent care at Rancho de Kao.

    I'm so glad you were able to enjoy some time with them!

  8. it is so wonderful to see people who commune with their animals. it looks like chicken heaven!

  9. Mike and I adore our chickens, goats, guineas, and TURKEYS. Yes turkeys are much fun, they're very curious.

  10. Wow. They definitely appear to be angels disguised as chicken farmers.

    Great car! Love the colour too (that's such a girlie thing to say, isn't it...?)

    I adore Bits. I would love to cuddle a chicken. Is that weird...?

  11. How wonderful for you and your chickens

  12. What a great time Danni! Love the car, and all those happy girls! Who knows maybe there's a sleepover in the future!

  13. Very interesting, Danni. I grew up around chickens (lots of them) but I've never heard of this tonic before. And, it is wonderful that you have such great mentors with chicken care in Tonya & Kao.

  14. Say, "Kitchen Chicken" ten times really fast. :D Good thing they call her KC.

    Great post!!! Very cool.

  15. How wonderful! We have a similar forum here in Austin. Backyard chickens are becoming all the rage.
    Boots is lovely. My two Brahmas are sort of stand-offish.


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