Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Adventures in Chicken Keeping

Last March we went to the feed store and on a whim we bought  7 chicks.
This one was named Butterscotch
Since we did this impulsively, and brought them home in a little box, I had to be inventive in making a brooder for them.  I had an old dog crate, so I put bedding in it, surrounded the sides with cardboard because they could fit through the openings, and rigged up a heat lamp.
Leia the Cattle Dog mix took her job as chick protector very seriously. She also liked to herd the chicks in the crate by running around it till she was satisfied they were in their proper places. The chicks did not like this.
Leia the chick guard dog

 They grew and were moved outside to a coop. One day one of the chicks crowed at me and I realized I had accidentally gotten a rooster, we called him Bob.
Unfortunately, Bob turned out to be mean and attacked my daughter. So I rehomed him. After Bob left our very flashy chicken named Fairy started to crow...Fairy was then named Dread Rooster Fairy.
Dread Rooster Fairy strikes a pose
My chickens free range during the day and in the evening they go back into their coop. So far, even though we have coyotes, raccoons and hawks we haven't lost anyone during the day.  Christmas Eve, however, there was a chicken massacre by what I assume to be a raccoon due to my red hen's head being pulled off.  My husband came home from somewhere, and asked me why the chickens were not in their coop and were huddled around our backdoor.  I went out to check, and noticed feathers on top of the coop, and lots of blood. I opened the door to the nesting boxes and found the body of the red hen.

The door was not shutting securely, there was a large gap, and I was lazy - so it wasn't fixed, and the chickens liked to sleep right by this gap, which was big enough for a paw to reach into.
I disposed of her body and shooed the rest of the chickens back in.  After that I went into the house and took a bath.  Upon getting out of the tub, I heard a horrible commotion coming from outside. I threw on a robe, ran downstairs, shoved my feet into my boots and went outside.  There were chickens squawking- running everywhere, and ghastly growly noises coming from the coop.  I thought I had latched the main door earlier, but I hadn't and the beastly chicken killer had opened it and was back.

Running around at night, in the snow,naked aside from my robe and boots and chasing chickens was never on my list of things to accomplish in this lifetime,but I suppose I could add it and check it off. (By the way,chickens are very fast).  After several minutes I found and caught three chickens and stuffed them in the spare coop.  The next day two other appeared-one with a stump for her middle toe.

Anyone interested in keeping chickens, can find wonderful information at Backyard Chickens.

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