The Chicken Whisperer

Story and Photos By Ella Poliakoff

I’ve had chickens for almost three years now. We got our first two chicks—Lila and Velma, named for my two great-grandmothers—on March 20, 2007, and we now have 11 hens total. Their names are Black Knight, Velma II, Starblaze, Stripes, Lila, Corn, Ginger, Ruby, Diamond, Rosy and Snowball, our newest hen that we found wild in a tree in our yard! I had to stand on my mom’s back to get her out of there. We recently got a rooster, too. His name is Señor Checkers, named after Checkers—the hen who is no longer on this Earth.

I like having chickens because I like the way they bop their heads as they walk, and how they are unique. Chickens are related to dinosaurs, so they screech, growl and hunt like dinosaurs did.


We feed our chickens every day, but they also eat bugs and grass. My job is to collect eggs when I get home from school. Sometimes the hens lay eggs in hidden places and I have to look for them. Once I found a hidden nest with 12 eggs in it! Since we didn’t know how old the eggs were, we cracked them for the chickens. It’s sort of gross that they eat their own eggs, but they LOVE them!

Our chickens hide under the house much of the day and try to avoid Señor Checkers. When he’s interested in one of the hens, he does this funny dance by sticking one wing down to his ankle and hopping around in a circle on one foot. That would never work for humans. Girls wouldn’t be interested in that.


One of my favorite chickens is Snowball because she’s curious and very much like a human—she likes to get in the car, and sits on the windows of our house and begs to get in. My other favorite chickens are Lila because she was our first chicken and she takes pride in her work, and Stripes because even though she pecks me and is mean, she’s a survivor and will go to great lengths to make sure she stays alive. I also like Rosy a lot because she doesn’t allow anyone to pick her up and she stays close to her friends. I think that’s how I would feel if I were a chicken. The new rooster is also one of my favorites because he’s a French chicken who is quite beautiful and feels soft like a cat.

I like to take pictures of my chickens because they are funny to look at. I wait until they’re not paying attention and doing things like cleaning their feathers or looking for bugs. I like to know how they live their lives and I can study the photos and see what they do.


When I get older I will definitely have chickens. That’s a surefire fact.