I am forced to accept this, as I watch one perching arrogantly on the higher extended escape-proof bit of fence that we constructed. I carefully tip-toe in to talk it down, like the chicken whisperer.

I feel very foolish. ‘Can chickens fly?’ is one of those questions like ‘why are there seasons?’ and ‘how does electricity work?’. You sort of think you know the answer and that it is all simple, but once you try explaining it to people then you realise that you are getting a bit bogged down.

I am not too sure about the options. I really do not want to put a chicken wire roof on, as I suspect it will make what is at present quite a pleasant environment into something a bit guantanamobayey.

And then there is the issue of wing-clipping. I know all the books say that it is what you should do and it doesn’t hurt and it is just like having your toenails cut, but I have a small feeling that it is not like having your toenails cut at all, and more like having a leg removed under general anaesthetic. Essentially, shorter toenails would not change my life materially for better or worse, whereas I suspect that a reduction in leg quantity would.

Short Tony returns from his holidays today, and I have managed a whole week without something bad happening to any of them. None have got worms, I have not trodden on any of them, I have not rented any out to Max Mosley. And we still have a full complement, so even though they can escape in theory, they clearly choose not to.

‘I must do everything in my power to make it a happy environment for them,’ I thought this morning as I went out in my pants to let them out. I do not wish to be a benevolent gaoler; I wish them to stay of their own accord.

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73 thoughts on “The chickens can fly!!!

  1. Dave says:

    Reducing your leg quantity might make you Short Jonny.

  2. Dave says:


    Reducing your leg quantity might make you short, Jonny.

  3. Pete says:

    I propose that you put a chicken wire roof on, but you get the neighbourhood kids to cut out and colour in some pictures of smiling people, clouds, anthropomorphic turnips and friendly penguins. Then you can affix these to the roof, and the chickens will be happy.

  4. Greenmantle says:

    Don’t be such a Townie wuss!…Clip one wing, and be done with it. Other people have been succesfully retaining their chickens for thousands of years…Why try and break the mold in week 1?

    Besides, chickens are dim creatures, so if you put a wire roof on, I bet they’d spend all their time flying into it, like a bee on the double glazing.

  5. blackpittsjames says:

    You need to remember one thing: chickens are very, very stupid. This is a fact borne out by history: a chicken has never held a responsible position in any field (not even politics).
    If you want to make them really happy, hang a cabbage from a string in the run.

  6. Pat says:

    Music: how about a bit of Bach? Failing that get the banjo out. Oh it’s going to be a chicken Nirvana I can feel it.

  7. Brennig says:

    Chicken Nirvana sounds like a meal that includes a wine-flavoured source, whole baby mushrooms, sliced peppers, new potatoes, broccoli, carrots and, erm, steamed chicken….

    And I’m a veggie, ffs!

  8. AndyB says:

    you let your pants out?

  9. Chickens can FLY?????

    G.I.M x

  10. Lucidity Heights says:

    Hullo Jonny,

    Praps they are making a break for it to go on a pilgramage to the holy chicken mecca of Norfolkshire: Chicken Roundabout.


  11. Z says:

    Whether you decide to clip their wing feathers (don’t cut the wings off, that’d be cruel) depends on whether you mind the chickens being loose in your garden. It’s very entertaining to watch them scratching in the flower beds – they scrape at the earth, then step back and peer to see what they’ve unearthed – but they do destroy choice plants. If you do clip them (sorry to be sensible and not funny), it’s easy to pick them up when they’ve gone to roost, then you can clip the long feathers and put them down again and they won’t flutter.

    I trust Lucidity Heights isn’t making fun of Chicken Roundabout – those of us who live nearby are very proud of it. It’s one of the landmarks of South Norfolk.

  12. pengwenn says:

    Hey Jonny.
    Today you went out in your pants…what did you wear yesterday? And do you have a wardrobe laid out for the rest of the week?

  13. Lucidity Heights says:

    Oh contraire Z! I hail from the mighty Beccles so would not besmirch the roundabout.

    I heard that during the bird flu debacle, the Roundabout chickens were removed in the night and exterminated like some sort of aquiline desaparecidos.

    Bernard Matthews….bootiful my hoop!

  14. Megan says:

    So you’re assuming these chickens are slightly desperate little voyeurs who will not only not be frightened at the sight of their Lord and Master all but in the nuddy they will consider a pants-clad owner first thing in the morning to be conducive to a happy environment? You really did get the low-rent chickens didn’t you.

  15. Jules Ritter says:

    I have only just discovered this site and am finding it so informative. Who would know that so many bloggers/blog readers would also be chicken experts?

    I have given it much thought and I think the answer to the whole wing-clipping dilemma will be found in answering the following question:

    Would that be Boxer Shorts or Y Fronts?


  16. sablonneuse says:

    I’m waiting for Jonny to appear on TV as the Chicken Whisperer. If he can come up with the right words he may be able to teach everyone how to prevent their chickens from escaping without having to clip their wings or put a netting roof over their pen.

  17. alan.sloman says:

    “I have not rented any out to Max Mosley”

    Perhaps you could ask Max over to tie a few of them up – that way you will not have to go about the grisly business of wing amputation.

  18. clarissa says:

    Those chickens are going to eat you for lunch.

  19. Watch out, Jonny; haven’t you heard of flying foxes? They might get in through the non-roof.

  20. Damian says:

    Lucidity Heights, that’s no chicken.

    That’s a rooster!

  21. Damian says:

    …or not.

    Looking closer, I think I’m wrong.

    Sorry all – move along please – nothing to see here.

  22. johng says:

    Four feathers on one wing! That is all it takes, then they fly at low level round in circles!

  23. Dean says:

    You have me laughing! And I hope that “guantanamobayey” will one day be a widely used adjective.

  24. Guantanamo Bay is a pleasant environment, Jonny, and I’ll thank you not to imply otherwise. Many more posts to the contrary and you’ll wake up with your head in a bag, en route to finding out in person…

  25. JonnyB says:

    Sorry Ivan. Didn’t mean to cause offence to you lot, etc…

    Hullo Dean and Jules and blackpittsjames and clarissa and welcome. This diary is a bit chickeney at the moment.

    Short Tony is home!!! I shall consult with him on the morrow about flying etc.

    And they were pants. Just pants.

  26. sooz says:

    I don’t think they fly per se. I think they sort of flap a lot and flutter but don’t get much height (above extended fences… )

    They don’t really have the intelligence to work out why they’d wish to fly out of your chicken utopia either… perhaps they’re focussed on a reclaimed door with a letterbox. That could be a reason to try to fly I suppose.

  27. Z says:

    Ooh, Beccles – we’d almost be neighbours if we weren’t in different counties, Lucidity Heights. The chickens being exterminated during the bird flu scare was only a rumour – they are classified as wild birds, so aren’t subject to the restrictions domestic chooks are.

    Most of them are cocks, actually. We think that people dump their spare ones there.

    JonnyB, we have baby chicks hatching out in our garden This Very Minute.

  28. spazmo says:

    It alarms me a little that “going out wearing pants” is something you now feel the need to explicitly indicate.

  29. Grumpy B says:

    What you do is feed them until they are too fat to fly.

    Then you eat them.

  30. Tim says:

    It’s simple!
    Put a ring around each chicken’s neck and attach it to a long lead staked into the ground.
    Then they can fly about in circles to their little hearts’ content, without you getting in a flap about them escaping.

    I’ve seen pictures of cock rings on the internet and only just realised what they’re actually for.

  31. Duck says:


    who’s your money on to play Jonny?

  32. JonnyB says:

    I would guess Redford, or Clooney, or somebody.

    Cock rings!!! Haha!

  33. Ally says:

    I’d go with a wire roof, myself. Foxes can climb.

    I have no comment about the pants situation.

  34. Richard says:

    The other day I heard Clooney described as being one of those American actors who make acting look effortless. I fear that Clooney may not be able to inject the necessary elements of bemused resignation into a JonnyB characterisation. I suspect you may be looking at a Carrey or you could get away with a Cage. Yes, Cage. Nicolas Cage plays JonnyB in “Raising Chickens”.

    Failing that, Stephen Fry.

  35. Jayne says:

    Ahh. Thanks for a lovely weekend imagining you being dive bombed by flying chickens in your pants (you in your pants of course, not the chickens. That would be weird). Just be careful they don’t start dropping eggs on your head. Some sort of protective headgear might be in order…

  36. Indigo says:

    Yay – JonnyB, I come back here after a couple of months away, and hey looky looky here, you are keeping chickens like wot I am (since 23 February). I too built a run (am still improving upon it but, as someone else has said, tweaking your chicken run is the new sex), and one of my two hens laid her first egg on Easter Day – a real Easter egg!

    Everything I know about poultry-keeping I learned from the Omlet forum – I have an eglu, too – come and join us and let us help you name your chickens.

    I am already planning to buy two more hens, so that I can have blue eggs.

    And here is a present for the 21st century poultry-keeper, an egg skelter, hand-made by an Omleteer.

  37. pengwenn says:

    What Tim # 30 said—–sounds like an interesting way to reuse an old product. Rather green, actually in a recycle, reuse kind of way.

  38. tillylil says:

    Don’t know about the chickens but if I saw you in your underpants I would definitely not want to stay of my mine own accord!

  39. freddie says:

    Hell , I didn’t know I was supposed to dress to go see to the birds….
    Where’s the ballgown with the rinestones, and the basque…?

  40. freddie says:

    And you DO need a skelter!!, So I can get a new set of stay-ups, strictly for warmth on these cold mornings!!

  41. NAGA - Chicken Keeper Helpline says:

    12V electric wire at top of fence.

    Don’t forget the polite notice informing them of the danger.

  42. JonnyB says:

    Hullo Freddie and welcome (and welcome back, Indigo!!!)

    I shall definitely examine this egg skelter thing. Is it a gadget? I am not very good at gadgets. I may need to get some help by writing to the bloke that does the gadget column in the Guardian. He will know about it.

  43. Indigo says:

    JonnyB, this egg skelter thing. Is it a gadget?

    Yes, An Unusual And Cleverly Designed Device for the Stylish Ordering of Eggs

  44. Pat says:

    Jonny: have you seen Redford lately?

  45. Miss T says:

    It is okay to clip wings.

    It will not hurt them. I have clipped both chicken and parrot wings in my time, and they were still cheery.

    Also, you then will be able to think of something clever and resourceful to do with the wing clippings.

    Wing clippings is definitely a term.

  46. Mary says:

    I’ve never owned a chicken or fowl of any kind but Tim’s suggestion just doesn’t seem right to me.

    Did make me laugh out loud though.

    Enough with the wing clipping discussion, when will they lay their first eggs?

    Shall we all place our bets?

  47. Linda says:

    Did you know that you can change the color of the shells of the eggs hens lay by their diet? I can’t remember how now but I read it in a Martha Stewart magazine. She had some lovely greenish eggs from her hens. I’m sure if I put in a good word for you, she would be happy to give you advice. Do you know who Martha Stewart is, by the way? She’s huge in America-something I’m sure you will be one day in your part of England once your chicken franchise becomes world famous.

  48. HotToast says:

    Wing clipping – easy and it doesn’t hurt. Honest. I live not a million miles from you Jonny, should I pop round? 🙂

  49. Pat says:

    Martha Stewart – wasn’t she in clink? we need Jonny alive and well and living in Norfolk!

  50. guyana gyal says:

    If dem there chickens fly, you’d better wear more than just pants ’cause when de chicken poo starts to fly…

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