Home About Us Dispatches Trips Alys's Articles Horse Care Home

Home > About Us > Chickens

Stubbi, Nimby, and Henny Penny Palin

Stubbi came to Squalor Holler in June, 2005. Alys was then a caretaker at Virginia Crawford’s Alaskastadir Farm. Tending to the four Arucana chickens was one of her many responsibilities. Alys was struck by the fact that although one of the bird didn’t have feet, she got around by hopping. She told Virginia that this was pretty impressive, to which Virginia said, “If you want her, you can have her!” Alys brought her home, and Pete built her a coop. Before Alys left for home, Virginia’s husband Ben named her Stubbi.

Stubbi is a chicken


It’s a chicken’s job to lay eggs, and Stubbi has never shirked in her responsibilities. This past summer she laid three green eggs, which was pretty remarkable, given that by Alys’s estimation, she by then was at least ten-years old.

A month later, Alys and Pete acquired a second chicken, in an equally serendipitous fashion as the first. Alys and her friend Charlene went over to farmer Dave McFarlane’s with the intent of buying some hay. On the way to the barn, Alys stopped and looked inside his outdoor chicken pen. There, in the corner, was a small black bird, which was being attacked by a rooster. Alys entered the pen and shooed him away. The bird’s neck was red and meaty, and her head hung low. Alys voiced her concerns about the hen to Dave, who said that he was going to have to “euthanize her.” Alys asked if she could have her, and Dave said yes. She named her Chicken Catchitori, because she was easy to catch.

Stubbi and Catchi eventually became life-long buddies. Pete, in anticipation of winter, built an insulated box in the shed. Alys constructed a ramp, and covered it with Astro turf, so that the two birds could enter or exit the roost or pen at will. The box had a Styrofoam lid, which made it possible to clean, feed, and water the pair on a daily basis.

Catchi passed on in March, 2010. Alys let her outside the pen and she went under the goat gate, out into the yard. One of the dogs must have killed her, because when Alys came out to tend to the animals, she found her dead. Even though she was a chicken, Alys had a hard time accepting the fact that Catchi was really dead. She stored Catchi in Malcolm X, the solar freezer, with the hope that during the time she was in deep freeze, that a cure might be found for birds with broken necks. In the spring Alys agreed with Pete that cure or not, they needed the freezer space. The two buried Catchi up on the hill next to Bootleg, which their dog that lived to be seventeen.

In October, 2008, neighbors down the road gave Alys Henny Penny Palin. She too had been rooster pecked, but not as badly as Catchi. She’s a little red Cochin with feathers on her feet. Unlike the others, she dislikes being picked up. Alys named her after Sara Palin because, like her namesake, she’s fast, and prone to making instantaneous decisions.

Nimby joined the flock in May, 2010, after Pete and Alys’s friend Marj offered them one of her hand-raised Delaware chicks. Alys and Pete talked it over, and finally agreed that having three chickens would be advantageous. The birds could more easily keep one another warm in the winter, and keep one another amused in the summer. Nimby is an anacronym for Not in My Backyard. It’s a term used by anti-environmentalists to describe those who are opposed to having development take place in their backyards. This was most fitting, given that the Usibelli Coal Mine Company was wanting to put in a strip coal mine a mile from where they live (See www.alaskacoal.org)

Nimby is white with a sprinkling of black feathers around her neck. She was Henny Penny’s size when Alys and Pete got her, but over the summer grew to be twice her pen mate’s size; hence, her nickname Baby Huey. She’s good natured, which is to the other chicken’s benefit—neither Stubbi nor Henny Penny would survive if Nimby was aggressive.

One of Nimby’s more endearing traits is that she likes slugs, which were in abundance this past summer. Alys, Pete, and petting zoo visitors plucked them off the garden plants and fed them to her. Alys is now clicker training her. Nimby is proving to be a very cooperative and willing subject, since the reinforcer is Pete’s oatmeal raisin cookies.

All the chickens will stay at Squalor Holler during Alys and Pete’s Divide Ride trek.