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Thread: The Chicken Debacle

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default The Chicken Debacle

    (Someone recently asked me about the time I posted the tale of The Chicken Debacle, and a forum search has come up dry. My best guess is that it got wiped when I went to Banned Camp a couple of years ago. As luck would have it, I did it in a word file so I can re-post this particular bit of bilge-freshener from 2016...)

    First, some background.

    Facility: Previous owners of our house had sheepdogs. FIVE sheepdogs. I dunno, I guess they used to take turns herding each other around or something. Anyway, the back yard is two acres completely fenced. We’re pretty well set up for anything shy of an actual horse. Wifey Dear, however, has allergies, so we have no animals.

    Demand: We eat a lot of eggs. Two dozen will just cover our weekday breakfasts. Weekends and baking needs not included… anything goes.

    First pass: The spring before last, I wanted to get chickens. Wifey was not on board with the idea.
    Last spring, I wanted to join the boat club. Wifey was not on board with the idea. I joined anyway.
    She complained for a bit, I pointed out the back window and said “but you don’t see any chickens in the yard, do you?” Complaint concluded.
    whoa, camel. WHOA CAMEL!

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: The Chicken Debacle

    Fast-forward to this past March.
    I walk out of the grocery store (with eggs, natch) and see a fella setting up a chicken coop display. Chicken rental. hmmmm.
    We chat for a bit, I take his card, and a few days later I send a check.

    A few weeks later, over dinner, the subject of getting a dog comes up again. This time I’m not the one who brought it up. Wifey has had some sort of flashback to her childhood, when she had a dog, and all of her friends had dogs or pets of some kind, and recalls that the handful of kids they knew who did not have pets of some kind all seemed rather odd. Her epiphany has brought her to understanding that it was Important for our kids to grow up with animals. We should get a dog.

    Had she said this years earlier, I’d have been turning cartwheels, but in those years I’d come to understand that Wifey dear occasionally makes such declarations without first understanding the full scope and depth of the matter. I knew that she didn’t really understand the adjustments in our life that would be required. In those same years I had also come to understand that any attempt to illustrate such would be not well received, so instead I said “Great! And the chickens will be a good sort of warm-up to having a dog!”
    whoa, camel. WHOA CAMEL!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: The Chicken Debacle

    Chickens? What chickens?

    The chickens that are coming in a few weeks. I’ve rented chickens.

    After a bit of stammering and yammering which could be summarized with “well, I walked right into that one”, the fact that it was a rental not a true longterm commitment allowed her to maintain her composure. We were out in public, conveniently.
    whoa, camel. WHOA CAMEL!

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Default Re: The Chicken Debacle

    And so, at the end of April, we were delivered a mobile-coop (“tractor”), all necessary bedding and feeding miscellany, and four hens. Littlegirl (age 4) is bouncing off the walls. It’s Christmas in April. First hen out of the box is a nice orange Buff Orpington. She names it “Basketball”.

    All is well in the world. The birds love the yard, the kids have a certain amount of animal-care built into their daily routines, we have freshest-possible eggs, and dammit there is NOTHING funnier in this world than seeing a bunch of chickens come running out of a bush when they think you have a bag of mealworms in your hand.

    Every morning we open the coop and the birds have free-range of the yard for the day. After school the kids collect and wash the eggs. At dusk the birds find their way back to the coop and settle-in for the night. Littlegirl says goodnight chickens and closes up the coop for the night before she goes up for her bath. Solid routine.
    whoa, camel. WHOA CAMEL!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: The Chicken Debacle

    About six weeks pass. One morning I notice some scratch-marks at the clasp of the egg-hatch, and the feeder has been dragged across the lawn. The Chicken Guy had cautioned us to be vigilant with the secure-latching of the carabiners because raccoons love eggs and will figure out how to open anything that isn’t secured with a carabiner. Ah, well, I guess I can’t leave the feeder out overnight anymore. No biggie.

    When I get home that day, Wifey Dear is in a state. I thought you said these chickens were going to be quiet animals! (she works from home) They’ve been clucking their goddamn heads off all day! on her way out the door to a meeting. I go out and yeah they come-a-running out of the bushes, I give them a few mealworms, and go in to cook dinner.
    20 minutes later, the chickens are going absolutely ape****. I figure one of the local hawks must be hassling them, so I go outside to settle things down. Three chickens run to me, still totally ape****.

    Only three. On the far side of the yard I see a fox, trying to jump the fence with Basketball in its mouth.
    whoa, camel. WHOA CAMEL!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: The Chicken Debacle

    Man, it had to take Basketball??!!! Littlegirl’s favorite! I figured she’d be devastated, I even went so far as to call Chicken Guy and ask if he had another Buff Orpington on hand.

    I figured that one wrong. Littlegirl quickly understood that it was just a fox being a fox, and that this is how things happen sometimes. The circle of life, hakuna matata. Wifey, on the other hand, was really upset about it.

    She was upset that we had to have the “circle of life” conversation with a 4yr old.
    She was upset that we now had to keep the birds cooped when unsupervised (for a while, at least).
    She was upset that we couldn’t provide a safe home for the birds, etc.

    She couldn’t take it. Every time the birds made any little bit of noise, she would rush to the back window expecting to see a pack of foxes frantically burrowing into the coop. She couldn’t focus on work or anything.
    I called up Chicken Guy, who came to collect the whole deal.

    We still do not have a dog.
    whoa, camel. WHOA CAMEL!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: The Chicken Debacle

    Just out of curiosity, what does it cost to rent chickens, I have always just ordered pullets from Murray McMurray, Diana makes an excellent cacciatore from the ones that age out of laying, enjoy your fresh eggs if you use them in 30 days or less no need to refrigerate a bowl on your counter is fine.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: The Chicken Debacle

    Oh wow I interrupted the story, I have shot one fox over the years protecting chickens, my problems always seemed to be coons, I bought a trap you put into a bucket with bait that would kill the coon, but neither of those things would work for your family.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: The Chicken Debacle

    Dogs will keep foxes out of your yard. Just sayin'. . .

  10. #10
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    Default Re: The Chicken Debacle

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Dryfoot View Post
    Dogs will keep foxes out of your yard. Just sayin'. . .
    Keeping a dog is probably the reason I have only had to shoot one over all the years I kept chickens.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: The Chicken Debacle

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Smith porter maine View Post
    Just out of curiosity, what does it cost to rent chickens...
    www.ctrentahen.com Three month/Three hen rental-$400.00 includes tax.

    Here's what you get....

    Mobile coop
    Three hens
    Feed container
    Water container
    50lb. bag of egg layer crumbles
    Bedding
    Instructions and 24/7 support
    Healthy Hen Kit, which includes meal worms, scratch feed, calcium supplement, lime, diatomaceous earth, PDZ, and 16 oz Poultry Protector.
    Delivery, training and return of rental
    Attached Images Attached Images
    whoa, camel. WHOA CAMEL!

  12. #12
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    Default Re: The Chicken Debacle

    And a few months after this Chicken Debacle, we discovered that littlegirl had developed a mild allergy to eggs, and our consumption dropped from 2-3 dozen per week to 2-3 eggs per week. She's just coming out of that now, can have the occasional egg-containing product from time to time.

    Looking back, man those were some LONG years, food-wise. eating egg-free is easy. gluten-free is easy. dairy-free is easy. but combine all three... trying to find things to feed a kid free of eggs dairy and gluten was TOUGH.
    whoa, camel. WHOA CAMEL!

  13. #13
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    Default Re: The Chicken Debacle

    i love chickens. i had some for a while until a coyote got in the yard. the whole back yard looked like i had been throwing chickens into a tree chipper.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    Bradford, VT
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    Default Re: The Chicken Debacle

    So, is it legal to feed wild foxes and coyotes where you live?

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