The Secret Life of Poultry: Sammi the Adventurer
Reading Time: 5 minutes
In a universe where dogs, goats, or even alpacas can be seen surfing, the thought of animals enjoying the oceans isn’t a novel idea. The line is typically drawn at chickens, however, because they are known to not enjoy water or swimming. The same can’t be said for Sammi.
East Coast dweller Dave decided to rebel against the norm when it came to mixing chickens and beaches. When his dog, Cort, passed away Dave knew he wasn’t ready for another dog. “He was with me for nearly half my life, and we had been through so much together. I’m not sure if I will ever be able to replace him.” Heartbroken yet unaccustomed to life without animal companionship, he decided to try something a little unusual.
On March 29th, 2017, a small Rhode Island Red was hatched and shipped to a distant Florida feed store for the annual facilitation of, what chicken owners are all aware of, chick fever. Signs go up boasting the availability of spring chicks much to our excitement, and even seasoned farmers have difficulty resisting the draw of fresh fluff balls. Spring chick sales are dangerous waters for those self taught scholars in chicken math.
Three days later, Dave was at his local feed store during one of these events. “On an impulse, I picked up one of the sienna puff balls, and instantly fell in love. I had no intention of buying a baby chick when I entered, but looking into her little eyes, I wasn’t going to leave without her.” In that moment, the species wasn’t in question; she was a sweet creature who needed a home, and he was a man who needed friendly animal companionship in his life.
Life with a small chick as a companion animal had some challenges, but Dave was an adventurous man with an agricultural background. Her first trip with him out in the real world was, naturally, to the beautiful Florida beach. By the time Sammi was 7 months old, her and Dave began to understand each other more. They were in tuned to one another’s emotions and body language. Boldly, Dave took her out into the water during one remarkable beach visit. “She loved it. She never once felt nervous.”
Sammi began going everywhere with Dave, living up to her Rhode Island Red heritage by being confident, fearless, and curious no matter the circumstances. There came a time in his life when Dave vowed to do something new every weekend, and Sammi was right there with him. “By now, Sammi and I had become pretty much inseparable. She went to work with me. She went to church with me. She was with me when I would go out to dinner or to the beach, and so on. Sammi became my sidekick,” he said. Wherever Dave went, Sammi went too. They hike, swim, and adventure weekly.
The pair’s organic relationship and love of novel experiences soon caught the attention of thousands, and Sammi became something of a celebrity. Radio programs and news stations began covering the duo, and sponsor offers started rolling in. Fans began recognizing her, something that came as a surprise to Dave. “No matter where we may be in the country, someone will recognize us,” he reported. They have encountered people everywhere from remote hiking trails to scheduled Meet and Greets. Always gracious, they are genuinely happy to meet and get to know their audience members, and let the love spread a little further.
“Sammi’s confidence always amazes me. She will confidently take on whatever adventure presented to her,” Dave explained. The hen has been snowboarding in Colorado, surfing in Georgia, and everything in between. Sammi’s fame has lent her, arguably, more opportunities than any chicken has seen before. Fans have invited her backstage at concerts and on international vacations. “We have received an open invitation to many countries, including England, Germany, Finland, Australia & even Indonesia, among many others.” Sammi, being a farm animal cannot make these journeys, so she and Dave spend their time exploring the United States.
Even Netflix reached out to Dave at one point, wishing to make a film starring Sammi. The theme was “Sammi goes to Hollywood,” and although the idea was exciting, Dave was forced to turn it down. At the same time, Sammi had a major heath concern that meant she had to spend some time at the University of Florida Vet Hospital in Gainesville. Intensely dedicated to his girl, Dave stated that “Sammi’s health and safety is my number one priority,” and the two took some time off to ensure she was healed and happy.
If there is somewhere Sammi isn’t welcome, then Dave doesn’t want to do it. He has spent the better part of four years traveling and living with his girl, and now if an opportunity arises that doesn’t involve her, he turns it down.
“There are many things I would love to experience in my travels, such as taking in the skyline view from atop the Empire State Building. But I don’t want to do it without Sammi. If she is not permitted, I don’t want to do it,” Dave emphasized. He asks for permission to take her places and frequently receives it, but he still gets told no more than he gets permission granted.
When they are not adventuring, Sammi lives in the house with Dave. She sleeps in a large dog crate fitted with a roost and covered with a blanket for her comfort. “She does not make a sound until I remove the cover, so no matter what time I get up in the morning, she waits patiently.” Sammi won’t go outside unless Dave chauffeurs her out, and then he has to sneak back inside when she isn’t looking, or risk her running right back in behind him.
Part of the reason so many have fallen for Sammi is her outgoing personality. She is confident and cuddly, sweet and sassy, and never backs down from a challenge with her favorite human. To follow more of Sammi’s adventures, find her on Instagram and YouTube under the handle “Sammi chicken.”
Originally published in the June/July 2021 issue of Backyard Poultry and regularly vetted for accuracy.