BYC Member Interview - Pyxis - **UPDATE 07-08-21 page 3**


Rest in Peace 1980-2020
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Jun 28, 2011
Shayna, known to BYC members as Pyxis, has been a member of our community since March 2012. Another of our wonderful all-rounders she is known for her good advice, friendliness and amazing collection of poultry.

1.Tell us a bit more about yourself.

My name is Shayna, though I’m just as quick to answer to Pyxis! I consider myself a Vermonter, since that’s the state that I work in and spend most of my time in, but technically I live just a hair over the border in NY. I’m currently in college studying to become a veterinarian. I hope to have my vet tech degree sometime in the next couple years, since I go part time, and after that I plan to get my vet degree while working as a vet tech so I can get some experience working in the field as I go. I’m in my early 20’s. When I’m not at work, studying, or out with the chickens, I like to read and play video games. Along with chickens, I also keep ducks, geese, and guinea fowl. I actually had ducks before I had chickens.

2. Why and when did you start keeping chickens?

I started actively acquiring and keeping chickens when I was 17, though I had some before that and ducks even before that. When I was young, I always wished the Easter Bunny would leave a couple chicks or ducklings in my Easter basket. It never happened, but when my aunt told me at the age of 14 that she was overrun with ducks and asked if I wanted a couple I leapt to take her up on it (after convincing my parents, of course). After the ducks came a silkie rooster whom an acquaintance at school asked if I wanted before their parents ate him. He didn’t stay long though – he ran off to join a neighbor’s flock that actually had hens for him. Shortly after that, one of my ducks vanished, and then the other did too and I didn’t have poultry for about a month. Then one of my ducks turned back up – with a new duck I’d never seen before in tow. I still don’t know where he went for month, how he found another duck, or how he convinced it to come home with him, but I was glad to see him.

However, they weren’t the last unexpected appearance. A hen soon showed up, attracted by the duck feed. She was from a neighbor that apparently didn’t take very good care of her. She was starving. When she got back up to weight and laid her first egg for me I was ecstatic. Somehow she spread the word and a couple other hens turned up, along with a (mean) rooster, and I had a flock.

So I started keeping chickens to rescue them. Then when I got older and got my first real job I got more on purpose, but eggs and breeding were not the first reason I kept them, although those are the primary reasons now. At first, I was just taking them in to rescue them. I still take in rescues whenever I find them – I’m a sucker for an animal that needs a good home.

3. Which aspect(s) of chicken keeping do you enjoy the most?

This one is hard to answer! I really love almost everything about taking care of poultry (except maybe cleaning the coops). I am a bit of a hatchaholic, though, so I'd have to say incubating and hatching new chicks has to be up near the top of my favorite things. I love to watch broodies with their chicks too. I also love just sitting out in the yard watching the birds forage - and I usually end up with a few in my lap, which is nice too.
4. Which members of your flock, past and present, stand out for you and why?

There are so many it's going to be hard to choose! First, I guess I should talk about Pumpkin, who was my 'gateway chicken'. Pumpkin was the hen I talked about earlier that showed up from the neighbor's place one day. She was a mess - missing a lot of her feathers, not from molt but from being picked on, thin as a rail, and with a terrible case of scaly leg mites. In order to treat her I had to wrap her legs up in gauze soaked in baby oil and then cover that with vet wrap. Regular Vaseline treatments just wouldn't kill the mites. But she recovered, and she was my entrance into the world of chickens - from her sprung up my entire flock. She passed away about a year after I bought my first chicks. I found her lying peacefully in the nesting box. I don't know how old she was, but being a sex link, it's possible she just passed away of old age, since sex links don't tend to live very long. Unfortunately I don't have any good pictures of her.

Kiwi was another special girl. She was my first bantam, a little red pyle OEG. I picked her out of a bin at Tractor Supply, attracted probably by her tiny size. She was one of the first chickens I bought on purpose. She was a bit skittish as a chick but as soon as she grew older she suddenly did a 180 and was one of the friendliest chickens I ever owned. Whenever I was in the yard she would fly up to ride around on my shoulder, and her tiny little bantam eggs were just adorable.

Honey was my first rooster that I raised myself and didn't attack people. Honey's not a very masculine name, I know, but when I bought him he was straight run. I spotted him in the Tractor Supply duck bin with his back torn open. When I told the employee manning the bins about it, he said that they knew he was injured and had put him in the duck bin on purpose since they didn't bully him like the other chicks did. Being a sucker for any animal that needs help, I bought him, one other chick that I was told I needed to buy (they waived the six chick rule for this purchase for me and made me only get one other instead) and a bottle of Blu Kote. One application of Blu Kote later he was fine and living with the other chicks. He grew into a beautiful huge rooster. I lost him last winter.

Lemon is another hen that I bought in my first batch of on purpose chicks. She is still with me, along with a few others from the original group. She is a very friendly red sex link. She came from a bin at TSC marked Golden Laced Wyandottes, which she is clearly not. She is very friendly and loves nothing more than to tug on my pants when I'm outside with the birds. She's also a lap chicken and jumps into my lap whenever I sit in my chicken watching chair. She is also the rare bird that is the exception to the 'sex links never go broody' rule - she's only done it once in her life but she raised a clutch of thirteen chicks for me one summer. She is definitely one of the friendliest chickens I currently own.

Penny is a buff orpington hen who I rescued. She was being kept in a person's room in a tiny cage that I doubt was more than 2 square feet. Jammed in there with her was a male ringneck pheasant. She was never allowed outside and she was constantly running out of food and water. Her owner regularly tried to bum feed from me so he could feed her and the pheasant. It didn't help that he had no job and more animals in his bedroom than anyone should have, including but not limited to ferrets, rats, boas, pythons, a pacman frog, cats, sugar gliders, rabbits, and two dogs that liked to torment Penny. She couldn't go outside because her owner lived in the center of town, where keeping poultry was illegal, and he didn't want to get caught. After much convincing I finally got him to give her and pheasant to me. She settled in well and now happily lives the life of a free range hen.

Barcode and Houdini were my first two barred rock hens. They were rescues, in bad shape. I'll tell their story later, but when I got them, they were skinny, abandoned, and had had nothing to eat for so long that they had tried to fill their bellies with gravel from the side of the road and spent a few days passing it all in their poop, which looked like black sludge. They were old hens, doubtless abandoned because they no longer laid eggs and were therefore useless to their former owner, who instead of finding them a new home or humanely killing them opted to abandon them to starve to death or be eaten by a predator. They both had great personalities, and Houdini lived up to her name while Barcode found it hard to fit in with chickens and somehow ended up with a guinea entourage instead. She had her own thread here for a while. Both girls have since passed away due to old age.

I can't write about birds that stand out to me without writing about Lacie, even though she's not a chicken. Lacie is a roman tufted goose. I bought her as a day old gosling. She and a friend were shipped to me, and for some reason with this particular chick order my post office decided to stick the box of chicks in my mailbox on a cold March day instead of holding them and calling me as they should have. As a result, the gosling I ordered to be Lacie's companion passed away. So she was with me all the time instead of with her friend, as the plan had been. She imprinted on me and followed me everywhere. She 'helped' me build a chicken coop as a baby. She bonded closely with a couple of the chicks that she lived with once she got too big to live in the house any longer. She is a very special goose. She's been to schools with me as a way to educate kids on poultry and their care. She's been to friends' houses. She's even been in Petco. Everybody loves her. She's convinced others to get geese. She's helped get rid of the idea that all geese are mean, nasty, attack birds. Everyone who meets her loves her. She loves nothing more than to try to sneak up on me in the yard and chew on my hair. Her and her companion geese love to hang out in the yard and graze, or take a swim in their pool. This spring I hope to get a gander for her.

Finally, I'd like to mention Magic and Charm, my first ever poultry, a pair of drakes. They introduced me to the world of keeping birds and for that I owe them gratitude.

And here I'll stop! I could go on and on about all my birds but I could write a book on them and that's a bit much for this interview.
5. What was the funniest (chicken related) thing(s) that happened to you in your years as chicken owner?

There are probably a bunch, but two particular ones come to mind! The first one was when I got my ayam cemani rooster mailed to me. He didn't arrive at my local post office, whom I had warned of his arrival, but rather he came in on the late truck and as such he went to a post office a town over from me. I went over to retrieve him and since he was insured, the rule is you are supposed to open them at the post office so the clerk can verify if you need to make a claim. Well, the clerk wasn't having it. I mentioned I needed to open up the box and she refused to let me. She said "Well it sounds like he's moving around in there" and just would not let me open the box. "You can open it in your car," she suggested. She was genuinely very concerned about what would happen if I opened the box and made me take him to my car and open it there. Luckily he was fine, but this woman was terrified of this chicken that she had never seen. I know they're little dinosaurs, but still! Later when I recounted the story to a friend who owns chickens, she laughed and said, "What, did she expect a raptor to jump out of the box?" And so let me introduce you to Raptor the rooster:

The other story concerns how Barcode and Houdini came to live with me. It was a rainy night, and I was coming back from seeing a movie with a guy I went to high school with. We were on a back road when as we were driving I happened to spot a chicken on the side of the road, just sitting there in the rain, exposed to predators and obviously abandoned. So I made him stop, go back, and sit there while I got out of the car and grabbed the chicken. We started to get ready to take off when I just happened to notice a second hen. Now, I had the first one on my lap and couldn't really go catch a chicken with another chicken in my arms, so I foisted a wet, bedraggled hen onto this poor guy and made him hold her in his lap until I collected the other one and we got back in the car. Then we got back to my place and he helped me get them settled for the night. He was a good sport about it, but I have to imagine that was one of the weirdest dates he's ever been on. Luckily he thought it was funny and we're still friends. He teases me about this incident to this day.
6. Beside chickens, what other pets do you keep?

I have a regular menagerie! Besides chickens, I also keep geese, guineas, and ducks. I also have three cats, a yellow lab Irish wolfhound cross, and a betta fish.

And finally I also keep a couple reptiles, one leopard gecko and a bearded dragon named Caramel. Here's Caramel in her Halloween outfit:

I've also kept parrots since I was about seven, but currently I don't have any indoor birds. My last one was a beautiful sun conure named Larrikin who passed away about a year ago. I miss him and do plan to have another parrot in the future, but the timing isn't right currently.

7. Anything you'd like to add?

I just want to say how glad I am to be a part of this site! There isn't any other place you can go to talk to other poultry lovers and connect to people who really understand you when you're talking about those birds running around in your backyard that's as awesome as this forum.

See here for more about the interview feature and a complete list of member interviews:
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BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Dec 12, 2013
Shayna, nice interview! I enjoyed reading about all your animals and seeing the photos (Caramel looks so cute in her costume, lol). Thank you for sharing with all of us and thank you for the rescue work!

Yorkshire Coop

Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Aug 16, 2014
Hi Shayna :frow

What a wonderful interview :D I've really enjoyed reading all about you and your animals. That's so nice of you to take in rescues and give them a lovely home.
Your pics are great, really enjoyed looking at them.

Thankyou for sharing with us all and good luck with your career in the future :thumbsup

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