What Buffy Knows

Buffy is seven years old. Chickens don’t usually live that long, not even doted on backyard birds. Certainly, Buffy is so long-lived thanks to a number of reasons. She’s had more than her share of ailments, but she has survived all of them, primarily, I think, because of her sturdy constitution. That, and I’ve been right there to treat her. It’s also possible that she has defied the odds because of her personality. Buffy is steady. Unflappable. I’m not one of those who believe that chickens are smart, not in the way that we humans gauge intelligence. But, those pea-sized brains do a remarkably fine job making sense of their surroundings and their animal community, and allowing them to live fully in their worlds.

I think that the wonderful thing about having a hen live well into old age is that you I can observe the years of accumulated  knowledge. I saw this the other day. I let the Girls out into the goat pasture to forage in the weeds and compost pile. The youngsters spread out, gleeful with the wealth of things to investigate and eat.



Buffy has seen it all. She knows that it’s work to scratch up those bugs. It’s far easier to eat pellets from the dispenser. Besides, her legs are tired. Buffy knows a cool and comfortable place that she can hang out with her friends, and that’s right where she went.

Buffy and goats


While the pullets ran this way and that, Buffy settled down for a chat and then a nap with the boys.



Later, when it was time to go back into the chicken run, Buffy was waiting at the gate with the pullets. Yes, Buffy knows exactly what is going on and she knows exactly how to steadily and surely pace her days.


  1. Aww, this just made my morning. A whole post dedicated to our sweet Buffy! :) She really is a wise old lady.

  2. A long and happy life… Buffy has something to teach us all.
    Watching chickens, how they engage with their world is such a pleasure.
    And goats are pretty great, too, of course!

  3. I love Buffy! It’s great to see her thriving and enjoying life on her own terms. I was very sad and disappointed when I learned that Suzie and Edwina had picked on her. I’m grateful you exiled them and enabled Buffy to rule the roost the way she deserves to. Long may she rule!

  4. Buffy has it all figured out–she knows exactly what shortcuts to take :)

  5. That is so adorable Terry! I love those little birds…great word…unflappable!

  6. There’s a life lesson in here for all of us. Thanks for sharing, Terry.

  7. I’ve got only two of my original batch of chickens left (5 years old). A buff orpington who is a bit slower and dimmer than most, and a simple, hardy australorp. Both are wise in the ways of the world. Neither are bothered by much these days

    A few days ago a dozen or so of the hens got out of the run (occasionally, my dog noses the gate aside when I’m not paying attention, just to see what interesting scraps I’ve thrown to the birds). The buff didn’t notice the hubbub. All the pullets refused to be rounded up, making me work to tease them back in. The old black hen just calmly waited for me to shuffle her back in to safety, water and a steady source of lawn clippings and kitchen scraps.

    She knows what’s what.

    • I would have liked to have seen you trying to get your Brown Leghorns in. I’m thinking they’re as fast as Twiggy. I’ve been training my new Girls to come for a shake of a can of corn. Otherwise, there’s no way I could get them back to the coop, even if I did have any running speed, which I don’t.

  8. Buffy has learned how to pace herself. Saw her yesterday “up close and personal” in front of the cam.
    My mom would have said that she knows how to grow old graciously. And, I might add, gracefully.
    Hats off to the Doyen of the Hen Yard! * * * * * * *

  9. Buffy IS amazing! I hope I age as gracefully as she has!

    • OH, and I would prefer to spend time with the goat boys too!

  10. Wise, beautiful Buffy. May she have many more such outings. I have to admit, I have a soft spot in my heart for her; because she’s endured so very much, because she gets along with everyone, and because I think she’s so pretty! Thank you for this post.

  11. I watched Buffy seeming to think long and hard about jumping up on her perch the other night–as she does probably every night. I felt and empathized with her effort and arthritis(?). It was also another hot evening. But she did it. One morning recently, I happened to see your son come in and reach over and lift her down so she wouldn’t risk hurting herself jumping down. That was so, so nice to see that.

  12. Miss Buffy is a “crusty old dame”. And I mean that in a most respectable way. The visit to the goat boys shows she knows a very good thing when she sees it. That only comes with age! The kids will learn that in good time.

  13. While this is my first post I have been here watching for a couple of months now. I find watching your girls very peaceful. It really does quiet my mind after a busy day. I just wanted to take a moment to tell you what an amazing story teller you are and that I appreciate your sharing this part of your life with all of us hencam.com fans.

  14. I have two hens Susie Q and Mable that are 10 years old. They are both Aracunas. They are still very beautiful. This past May I took them with me when I gave a talk about backyard flocks. It was the first time they had left the farm. They were in a dog kennel on the table next to me and as I was talking Mabel began talking so I spoke louder. The louder I talked the louder she talked. It was really funny and she gave us all a laugh.
    So Buffy may be with you many more years.
    Their feathers are still very vibrant but they don’t seem to molt like the younger hens. Do older hens molt less?

  15. I live in southeastern Mass and have two barred rocks, remnants of a flock i got 9 years ago. They also seem to molt less and they are still laying an egg of good quality about every other day! I hesitate to eat them because of the advanced ages of Julia and Gracie, but do you think they are safe to eat?

    • Old eggs are safe to eat. BUT they don’t have a very good texture. I find that Twinkydink’s egg (she’s 8) lacks firmness is and has a mealy texture when hard-cooked. They’re still fine for baking, and that’s what I used in those blueberry muffins.

    • Are you wondering if it’s safe to eat the eggs, or the chickens?

      • Oh, heavens, at first I thought that Joanne wanted to eat the hens. I’ve been asked that question about how old a hen can be and still be edible! I’m sure that she means the eggs. Thanks, Jaye.

  16. Oh, after rereading it I think it is the eggs. I thought it was the chickens and I thought how can she do that after they are named etc.
    Glad to hear it is the eggs

  17. I just have to join in. My girls are 15 weeks old, so I am a first time chicken mom. Please give me some more ideas on how to tame the chickens to come to me. Thanks for your wonderful site. I love to read about everyone’s experience.

    • I have a FAQ on this topic! Go here. I also have a FAQ on handling hens. But, my best, quick advice? Get a stool. Set it down in the midst of your hens. Sit quietly. Toss treats away from you.

      • Thanks Terry, I have been spending time in the coop when it cools down in the evening. They are slowly coming around. Some peoples hens seem so tame, I was concerned that I was doing something wrong.

        • You’ll find them easier to handle after they reach maturity. Also, hens differ by breeds and individuals. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to hold fast Twiggy!

          • Thanks, you have encouraged me today. My bufforp is like a puppy, she loves to be held. My rocks come close, but don’t want to be touched. My lace looks at me like I am the enemy. Thanks again

              • Yea, silver lace Wyandotte. she is a beauty, but I am glad I only have one. I think the rocks will be friendly in time.

              • We have three SLWs and find them very friendly. They were hands-raised inside until weather permited they went outside. I do dote on them a little and I like to give them healthy snacks so maybe that is why they insist on sleeping on my lap when I rest with them in the shade on the lounge chair. We live their disposition.

  18. Terry, Thanks for taking such good care of Buffy! Her acceptance of Life as it comes is an inspiration to many. I treasure her. You are terrific.