Saturday, August 13, 2011
Chickens Coming Home to Roost
I've wanted chickens for a while, but we didn't think it was time. I did a lot of re-landscaping in the back yard this year, the point of which was to make room for next year's eventual chicken coop.
Then serendipity got in the way. A week ago, we went to a party at a friend's house. I got to talking to a friend of hers who keeps chickens. It made me think again.
The next day, a message came through on our neighborhood listserv about a local CSA farm that was getting out of the egg business due to severe raccoon problems (they are still in the city but more suburban than my area). They had 14 chickens who were looking for new homes.
I emailed Mario at work and told him. Wonderful man, his only question was, "Are we ready?"
Is anybody ever ready when change comes along? I figure things happen for a reason, and when they do, you roll with it. I emailed back, and asked for 3. Within a matter of hours, they only had 2 chickens left - in a city that doesn't allow backyard chickens. When I stop finding dime bags in my front yard, I'll start worrying about who's keeping illegal poultry.
Two days later, a chicken coop was on its way, and on Thursday, we got it built and installed in the back yard (in a completely different but much more practical area than I had originally planned). On Friday, we raccoon-proofed it - hardware cloth stapled to the entire floor of the run, then covered with dirt and bedding, and spring hooks on the doors.
We were as ready as we could be.
The second chicken, bigger and darker, flew straight up in the air, landed somewhere behind me, did 2 high-stepping laps around the yard, tearing off mouthfuls of leaves from every passing plant, rose up again and flew over a 4 foot chain link fence, ran down the alley next door, out through their locked gate and out of sight. In a matter of seconds.
During this time I ran and swore and dove at the bird, but she was too fast. I ran down the alley after her, only to find that Mario locked the gate because he would, obviously, be coming in the front door. Thankfully he got back just then, saw me and unlocked the gate. I run past him, see an older man standing outside the karate studio down the street. "Have you seen my chicken?" Completely unfazed, he points left. "He went that way, ma'am."
We track the chicken by the people standing on the sidewalk, either puzzled or laughing. We track the chicken through the double doors into the thrift store where I do a lot of my shopping. We eventually track the chicken into a corner behind a rack of hangers. With an authority I didn't really feel, I got hold of the chicken and called for a box. Mario found one, and for good measure, we put the box in a trash bag and carted her off home.
This time, she went into the coop. A little huffy about it, if you ask me, but she went in.
They're a little stressed right now, between multiple raccoon attacks at their old home that killed over 2 dozen chickens, then being moved to a temporary home, then moving again today. (Plus that little unplanned adventure). But they're eating, they're drinking, and eventually, they'll be calm enough to lay us nice pale blue eggs.
I noted when I was hunting the chicken that it was half price day at the thrift store. I went back a little later and spent some money, just to make up for the fuss we'd caused.