I blink in surprise.

There is never a knock on the door these days, let alone at this time in the morning. The weather outside is foul; I have only just woken up the chickens to let them out into their escape-proof run, and am looking forward to a nice cup of hot coffee.

I open the door. It is Mrs Short Tony, announcing that the chickens are escaping.

Being a man, I really am no good whatsoever at multi-tasking (I do not think that it is sexist to say that). Therefore there is some comfort in the fact that I am able to combine my reaction at her news with some much needed practice for next week’s National Face-Falling Championships.

Stomping outside, I find Short Tony grimly banging in nails. The wind howls pitilessly through the trees. The chickens peck around innocently.

“I caught them sitting on this fence,” he explains, indicating a piece of fence that is surely too high for chickens to get up to. I look at the chickens. I look at the fence. To be fair, we had identified it as a Point of Potential Weakness, but had assumed that they would not be able to jump that far.

We spend the next bitterly cold hour raising the height of the fence by two feet.

I am learning all the time about this chicken business. So far, I have hung up a washing line for them to use, and constructed a useful Perchomatic 3000 out of old bits of wood. I do not see why they would wish to go elsewhere, and am a very tiny bit hurt by their attitude.

65 thoughts on “There is a knock on the door!!!

  1. Dickie "Touch" Tingles says:

    Foul! Hargh! Rubbish!

    Chickens are notoriously ungrateful, old boy. One only has to look at their beady little eyes to see that. They’re only thinking about themselves and how they can stuff their guts with sage and onion from Mrs B’s patch. And don’t under-estimate the jumpiness of their legs either. I once saw a chicken clear an entire building with a single bound – bouncy little buggers.

    Toodle-pip! Dickie

  2. Dickie "Touch" Tingles says:

    P.S. Why do you have a little smily face at the bottom of youre page. I’ve never seen that before – is it a secret link to some other, better secret diary that only your friends know about?

  3. Pat says:

    They’re birds aren’t they? Don’t they fly? I’m sure I’ve seen them fluttering their feathers and – at least – taking a flying leap.

  4. Just be glad you didn’t buy the show-hens, Jonny. That chicken lady knew what she was doing when she palmed you off with those sad and scrofulous cast-offs from the special needs section of her shed. It’s clear that any normal checken would’ve just crushed your feeble excuse for a fence underfoot and moved into the house lock stock and barrel.

    Your posts would suddenly take on an air of Vichy France. “I Grovel Before Our Glorious Chicken Masters!!!” etc…

  5. Coq au vin tonight?

  6. Mr Wibble says:

    Bertrand Russell never had that problem.

  7. Z says:

    I’m afraid that they can fly, Jonny. Either you must cover the run, or clip their wings. Just one wing of each bird, as it puts them off balance when they try to fly.

    It’s easiest with two people. One catches the bird and holds her round the body, while the other cuts the long flight feathers on one wing. Otherwise, try doing it by yourself and write about how it’s impossible.

  8. Sewmouse says:

    Put up the post box and a decent door! You know darn well they were trying to get down the road to the more luxurious digs!!!

  9. zed says:

    You really haven’t looked after chickens before, have you, JonnyBee?

  10. JonnyB says:



  11. brian says:

    Does Mrs B have sage & onion in her patch? You really should get that seen to.

  12. JoAnne Rodriguez says:


    Chickens can FLY? Seriously? You would think in the history of the world – or my part of the world for the last 45 years, which is my particular history – there would have been AT LEAST one other person like Jonny who didn’t clip wings and thus, I would have seen ONE chicken fly, at least. But I have not. Is it bad luck, or are you pulling a fast one?

    On a somewhat related note, I was once walking my daughter and I heard this god-awful noise about 2 inches above my head. After I screamed and crouched down, I looked up – a pair of swans flying by. Swans FLY. I never knew that, either.

  13. peach says:

    aw poor jonny, the chickens aren’t leaving for any personal reasons

  14. Sarah P says:

    Maybe the wind had scooped them up and they were clinging to the fence trying not to leave!
    Either that or they really can fly and I’m going to have to re-think my whole poultry education.

  15. mac says:

    I once thought that some chickens can fly but later in the film it turned out that he was just being fired out of a cannon.

    Choose your materials carefully when you increase security. You don’t want to inadvertantly provide raw materials for a devious mass escape in a flying contraption. Noticed any saws or pliers going missing?

  16. JonnyB says:

    I need to nail this one down. Some of you say they fly. Other people say they do not.

    I have to say, it seemed a long way for them to jump. But if they fly then I will have to adjust my whole outlook on life.

  17. sablonneuse says:

    Why not attach a string to one leg of each chicken and tie it to a post?
    Or you could give each chicken a collar with your name, address and phone number on it in case it succeeds in escaping. This chicken keeping sounds like fun.

  18. AndyB says:

    the weather was foul??? (sic) – I thought we’d all agreed not to do jokes like that?

  19. Pat says:

    Jonny- I beg you – don’t cut their wings; Hugh Effing Whatsit and I will cry.
    Pigs don’t but someone saw an elephant fly.

  20. Hi there

    Just popped over the fence to see how you are doing – having fun with those chooks aren’t you.

    I clip all my chickens – and quails wings – but the Rosecombs and the Modern Game bird just fly around regardless – and also do a limbo under the tiniest gap too!

    They keep you interested though don’t they – never a dull moment.

  21. Duck says:

    But at least they make coffee, by all accounts. Two sugars please.

  22. ~~Silk says:

    They don’t fly so much as flutter, especially from a high perch. But if you don’t put a wire roof on the pen, you’ll find another way they fly – in the talons of a raptor!

  23. Wan2BukleMaShu says:

    Johnny, Johnny, Johnny…..

    In the wild chickens roost in trees. ( They reach said branches without the aid of mini ladders, ropes or dumb waiters.)

    Chickens do indeed fly. Short distances only. Unless jet propelled, hung from a kite or thrown by a local n’er-do-well.

    May I suggest you fit a roof…pronto! or you may end up with egg on your face rather than your plate.

    Yours respectfully,
    ‘Nine ten a big fat hen’.

  24. clarissa says:

    they are afraid of being eaten

  25. Lisa says:

    I would be very entertained by posts about Life In A Norfolk Village That Is Run By Nazi Chickens. I would even buy the book. Do write it, please.

  26. Blazing says:

    Thank you.

  27. Pat says:

    All is well! My SIL tells me his sit in the trees but as long as you feed them they come home to roost. Isn’t that what free range is all about?

  28. Blossom says:

    If you clip the wing FEATHERS ONLY of one wing, the chooks fly in circles due to the uneven thrust from each wing. This slows them down, but they may still work out the ideal trajectory to reach the fence.
    Both wings clipped will probably be more effective at keeping them in.
    Of course, only cut the feathers (not actual wing flesh) about halfway along with strong kitchen scissors.
    Next season, when they grow a new set of feathers you’ll need to do it again. Unless they have convinced themselves that they are happy enough to stay home anyway!

  29. It’s all take, take, take with chickens, isn’t it?

    G.I.M x

  30. Richard says:

    It’s the ones that burrow you’ve really got to look out for. Better than rabbits they are. Are you sure you’ve really thought this through, Jonny?

  31. Ric Locke says:

    Yes, chickens fly.

    However, you can put out of your mind the notion of graceful flight, like swallows or hawks. Picture an overweight City wallah complete with natty suiting running like Hell to avoid, oh, I dunno, a tornado or Gort the robot. That’s chicken flight — maximum effort and noise, minimum result. For a chicken, getting the six or eight feet up to a low-hanging branch requires the sort of effort otherwise reserved for contested Parliamentary seats.

    However, they WILL make the effort. It is therefore necessary to either clip their wings (as noted above) or put netting over top of the chicken run. This is necessary because chickens are also stupid, but very clever. They can and will identify the only dangerous (to them) situation within five miles and go directly toward it with determination and a sort of birdish glee.

    The second generation (you DO have a rooster, do you not?) is not so bad. They will identify the run as home territory, and if they survive their exploratory voyages will return to it to eat and sleep. If you don’t intend to raise chickens from eggs, but to continually replace them as they are consumed (by yourself, Mr. & Mrs. Short Tony, and/or the local fox population) clipping or roofing are the only answers.


  32. Sandy says:

    One would think that your blog attracted mostly poultry experts. But I rather think that it is mainly that your readership is has a wide ranging knowledge on many subjects including the keeping of poultry.

  33. Fern says:

    Ric Locke is spot on with his wing-clipping advice.
    It would be advisable to get a rooster. He’ll keep the chickens happy and they will lay better.

  34. JonnyB says:

    I am all very torn now. Ric has given excellent authoritative advice, Allotment Lady has an allotment, so should know what she is talking about, but the leg-tying thing sounds like a good solution.

    I am sure they will return to their nice house. I just don’t want Short Tony’s dogg to eat them.

  35. Linda says:

    Maybe they have a clip joint (hair cutting) place there-only for chickens- that will clip the wings of your chickens for you. Somehow I don’t see good things ahead if you and Short Tony get out there with a chicken and a pair of scissors between you.

  36. beth says:

    Much as I admire your manly gung ho, have a go, can do, attitude…didn’t you read a book about it before deciding to get them? Or at least look ‘chickens’ up on Wikipedia?

  37. Richard says:

    I don’t think Wikipedia was around when Col. Sanders invented the chicken. Jonny and Short Tony should be applauded for their frontiersmen’s approach towards raising stock. Their trial and error attitude will eventually reap benefits despite costing a fortune in the short term. They could always eat the dogg if it becomes a problem.

  38. Essy says:

    How ignorant. Not only not knowing that chickens can fly, but thinking they do laundry, what other reason would you put up a washing line for them ?

  39. AndrewM says:

    Yeah. What Essy says.

    And stop being an active member of the abuse blog too.

  40. cantstoplaughingnow says:

    You’re an absolute genius, JonnyB, and your blog is The Funniest In the World.
    Thank you for brightening up an otherwise dismal morning!

  41. JoAnne says:

    Wild chickens? Chickens just out there, living wildly? Nesting, foraging on the forest floor, peering at me from the lower branches as I jog past in the wee hours of the morning? Really?

    I may never go outside again.

  42. Min says:

    Roosters are not necessary – they just annoy the hens. My old ladies are 12 years old and some are still laying. i didn’t want another generation – just a few pets to keep me company. Min

  43. Lisa says:

    Good lord I am seriously alarmed about your head size, given comment #40…unless you wrote it yourself to bolster your ego after failing to consult Wikipedia on every aspect of your life?

  44. rivergirlie says:

    bet you wish you’d stuck to the banjo now.

  45. Ric Locke says:

    Well, y’see, I quite like chicken, the foodstuff. After my childhood, and a few abortive experiments afterward, I also quite like it when somebody else performs the conversion to foodstuff, including all the precursor steps such as hatching, feeding, penning, etc. etc. And I don’t really see seven and a half pounds, near enough fifteen dollars, as being a poultry sum. I can dine on chicken for comfortably less than that, and not have the aggravation.

    One ploy often used by chicken-raisers is overfeeding. Scatter chicken feed around the run, so that they get accustomed to scratching for it, and see to it that they get several times the Officially Recommended Diet®. A five-pound chicken can probably clear any fence you can build economically. A seven-pound chicken is much less athletic.


  46. NAGA - defra says:

    I hope you’ve completed all relevant forms and applied for the licence? Don’t forget to dip in spring and autumn. Keep up todate with all those vaccinations too!

  47. Damian says:

    Don’t worry about clipping their wings. They won’t go far, and they’ll return to the place they slept last night – so they’ll return to the run. Ours aren’t clipped and haven’t gone anywhere outside the back yard in the last year – although they do flutter their way up onto the garden table, or the kitchen window.

    I think it’s best not to clip their wings so that they have a fighting chance of escaping foxes.

    One word of warning though – the young ones fly better than fully grown ones. They’re not as heavy, so watch them while they’re young.

  48. tillylil says:

    Come on Jonny you only have to watch ‘chicken run’ to know that chickens cant really fly. But they can get together in large groups and plot to escape and assinate their owner!

  49. Louise says:

    Hi Jonny, i know this has nothing to do with Chickens! But do you know you have an appreciation society on facebook? I haven’t read the rest of the comments so apologies if that has already been mentioned somewhere.

  50. guyana gyal says:

    Don’t worry, they ain’t going far, they know where their nest is feathered.

    Unless you’re planning to eat them. Then you’d better watch that movie.

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