Henny Penny, My First Feathered Love

My love of poultry began in a rather unconventional way. I was a young boy in McMinnville, Tennessee on a trip to town with my grandmother when I spied a brown Leghorn hen running loose on Main Street. On this particular day I was fixated on getting back at my sister for her recent goat acquisition so this chicken seemed like an answered prayer. I asked around about the owner of the bird and was told that she was mine to have if I could catch her. With some fancy foot work and a lot of flying feathers I managed to corral her. Half way home I had named her Henny Penny and forgotten all about my sister’s goat. There would be many feathered friends after Henny, but I credit her with sparking an enthusiasm for poultry that persists today.

My interest has grown to include the preservation of heritage birds, many of which are experiencing alarming declines in breeding flocks throughout the country. Heritage breeds are officially described as original breeds and strains of domestic fowl that were developed and/or recognized in the late 19th or 20th centuries, and they are defined by a specific set of criteria as determined by the American Poultry Association.

1. APA Standard Breed
2. Long Productive Outdoor Life Span
3. Naturally Mating
4. Slow Growth Rate

At the farm we focus on maintaining the genetics of a handful of heritage breeds.

Slate Turkeys as pictured here as well as Black Turkeys

Sebastopol Geese

Buff Orpingtons

Barred Pylmouth Rocks

While you might not have room for a flock of chickens in your backyard there are ways you can help with the preservation of heritage breeds. The first thing I suggest is learning more about the subject. Here are some websites to check out:
Heritage Poultry Conservancy
American Bantam Association
American Livestock Breeds Conservancy
American Poultry Association
International Waterfowl Breeders Association

Fall is the season for poultry and livestock shows. Get your toes wet by visiting a few. They are great places to learn about breeds, buy birds and meet other poultry enthusiasts. Check with your local state fair, I’d be willing to bet they have one going on. This year America’s National Crossroads of America Poultry Club show is October 28th – 30th in Indianapolis.

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36 Responses to Henny Penny, My First Feathered Love

  1. Jennifer Griff says:

    Nice story.

  2. Joan Twigg says:

    I completely understand your love the poultry. I had a pet duck that followed me around when I was a kid.

    I’ve been wanting to some chickens & guinea keets – we are moving soon and will be able to do so – I’m very happy.

    Thanks for sharing your story of Henny.

  3. Dora S Palmer says:

    Happpy to know that

    Happy to know of you Tennessee connections.

  4. Allen, I loved your Henny Penny story. I was too young to remember the chickens on our farm when we were kids. I have always loved them, but haven’t lived anywhere where I can raise them. I love to eat the farm fresh eggs though. They’re the best. You are such an inspiration to me. Love your show and website.

  5. Alice Cochran says:

    Allen, we live in Southern Chester County in Pa. and we have so many wild turkeys you can’t imagine. Every time my husband and I go out on a trail ride we see many flocks of turkeys. Thank goodness our horses aren’t bothered by them otherwise we may end up in Berks County!!

  6. Pamela says:

    I loved your story. We raised Araucana’s and Bantam’s growing up. All were pets to us as well.
    We go to our local farmers market every Saturday for farm fresh eggs here in GA. I may ask my husband to build me a coop next spring!

  7. sharon says:

    Allen, your story about the chickens was wonderful, but it was the photos that I really loved. As a small child I lived with my grandparents, and a favorite event was afternoon tea with my grandmother. I would stand on the front porch and ring the doorbell, pretending that I was coming for tea. My grandmother would open the door, and I would say, “Hello, Mrs McGillicudy”, her ‘tea name’ and she would reply, “Hello, Mrs Bufforpington”,” my ‘tea name.’ I never knew that the name was a breed of chickens! I’ve had a good laugh over that! Thanks Allen, for awakening some lovely, long-ago memories.

  8. Dianna Bird says:

    Fowl are beautiful. My neighbor up the mtn had chickens they died of old age. Mom had a Tom turkey come visit. They chased him away and he came back with his mate. He pecked his reflection all around my brothers truck. and the telephone repairman had his tool belt pecked.

  9. Tamara says:

    My little town is considering banning chickens. FOOEY! Portland (OR) and some nearby suburbs allow poultry, usually just four hens. That would be great to have. I only have indoor finches now but I like the idea that I COULD have chickens. The mayor lives just up the street and the next time I see him, I’m giving him my enthusiastic Pro-poultry two-cents-worth! Banning them is such a backwards step when we really need to be encouraging sensible
    husbandry, gardening and eating practices.

  10. Chickens are so beautiful. Never had the time to get personally acquainted with one, even though we had about 15 at one time. Moved here to the Midwest, so I paint chickens.

    My grandmother in Kansas, had a chicken that came into the house everyday, jumped up on the bed, laid an egg, then went out. What a wonderful gift.

    Visit my website for some chicken pictures.

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