Keeping backyard chooks is popular in Australia, especially now with the coming of COVID-19. Although my neighbors have had their chooks for several years, many others rushed out to buy them in the early months of the pandemic, fearing shortages of supermarket eggs. Chickens were in short supply: one Tasmanian farm owner sold 100 to 200 chickens a day.
The hens I looked after greeted me daily with clucks, soft trills, and sounds that were almost like purring. They were easy to care for—a little feed, ample water, and occasional vegetable scraps—and they were happy. Mealworms were a special treat.
Freed from their coop, they foraged industriously in their enclosure.
Thankfully, these chooks mostly get along at feeding time, with no clear hierarchy.