Wednesday, July 08, 2009

When Chickens Attack

The desperation to get the chickens in their tractor-- outside-- reached a fever pitch about a week before we actually got the feat accomplished. Poor P-daddy's knee took a whallop so the project and the husband were out of commission for a while. The tractor is still not technically finished-- it needs a proper roof-- but it's well and done enough for the chickens to be quite happily outside.

For about two weeks prior to that, they were inside at night and then we would put them outside in a "play pen," a range shelter we cobbled together out of a soccer goal and unrolled chicken wire just leaned against it. The chicks grew so fast for we inexperienced poultry tenders; the unhappy limbo for us came in the time during which they lacked enough feathers to be outside at night but they had so much energy and poop that they made our home miserable when they were inside.

We finally gave up on the brooder box entirely when they were about a month old, and just barricaded off the breakfast nook with baby gates and plywood. We spread a gigantic tarp over the linoleum, covered that with pine shavings and just ignored it. Or tried to-- while they happily accepted dominion over our table, they also began roosting on the baby gates themselves, perched about 5 feet in the air. Sometimes their combined weight would take down the gate and defeat the whole setup. P-Daddy was most unhappy.

One of the books I read while embarking upon my self-directed, intensive get-er-dun course on raising chickens serenely suggested that like the author, the reader would probably raise the first batch of chickens in a box in the kitchen. The author sagely noted that "the dust they raise can be considerable" and that the rest of his broods were raised in the garage. This, my friends, is called UNDERSTATEMENT.

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