Underpants for Goats?

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in school libraries doing storytimes, and having email conversations with teachers. It’s been enlightening to find out what children really want to know about chickens. In Cambridge, MA, where none of the kids keep chickens, the big question was, “do chickens fly?” This is something that I don’t think about! But to the children, it’s a logical query. All of the birds that they know – the city pigeons and sparrows – fly. Chickens are birds. They have feathers. Then again, you never hear about chickens flying. Hmmm…. I explained that chickens flap.

A kindergarten class in NH has been using the HenCam and GoatCam for their writer’s workshop. They’ve been observing my animals and writing about them. If you watch the goats for any length of time you know that you see them pee and poop. If you’re five years old, this is hysterically funny and very interesting. I got a packet of drawings and letters in the mail from them. They told me that the goats should wear underpants. Nobody suggested diapers – after all, these are children who are in kindergarten and use the bathroom! The goats should, too! I wrote back and said that it’s my job, as the farmer, to clean up after my animals, and that I didn’t mind that chore at all.

Here’s one of the drawings. Notice the black chicken in the bottom right corner. That’s Tina! Look at the top knot feathers!


  1. That giant chicken in the middle is downright terrifying.
    Yesterday I saw a silver birchen Japanese bantam hen fly twenty feet up into a holly tree…

    • You’re right that the bantam “flew” – but I think that in a five-year old’s mind, getting up into a tree doesn’t count. They meant flying as in soaring through the sky – not flapping up into a tree and stopping!

  2. As it was a natural query for the children, can we imagine that it’s just as natural for the chickens to wonder how well they fly? Then let’s imagine what the chickens would ask about human children!
    Today was Farm Trails in Sonoma County so we had many hundreds of visitors at GreenString Farm, loving the newborn lambs and kids, and asking interesting questions about the chickens. Adults ask the more amusing questions, including the frequent, “Do the silkies lay eggs, too?” I really do curb my sarcasm before answering. But in my mind….
    Sesame Street has a song my daughter used to love, “There are chickens in the trees! Won’t somebody help me please, there are chickens in the trees!” At 24, it still makes her smile.

    • Hylla- I’m still dumbfounded when I tell an adult that I have neutered male goats and the response is, “do you get milk and make cheese?”
      I’m going to have to track down that song and put it on my teacher’s page!

  3. I agree…the best comments come from adults. I get ” is that a rooster or a chicken?” and “that goat is so cute” when it is a lamb.
    Or my favorite….” what do you do with their eggs?” I responded once ” we use them as shoes” hehe I couldn’t resist.
    Chickens do flap not fly, I agree. One day I couldn’t find one of my hens. After calling her I heard a reply from the roof of our house. Silly girl. I had to force her down because we have a hawk in the neighborhood and she looked like a fast food resturant up there.
    Chickens (and humans) are funny.

    • Perhaps we need an “animal dictionary for city folks?” Animal flashcards? Lots of vintage stuff on ebay is mislabeled. Ducks for chickens. Sheep for goats.