Posted in Animals

The Chicken Chronicles: An Update and Addendum

The month of March is upon us and with that comes an anniversary. Or a birthday, rather. My chickens turn three years old. Happy, happy birthday girls!

It’s a landmark, a milestone, a big deal to have three-year old chickens. At least I thought it was until I googled the life expectancy of a chicken and found it to be 8-10 years for backyard hens and some have lived up to 20!!! What???? 20 years. I’ll be drawing medicare. Almost.  It’s only a big deal to be a commercial chicken and live three years.  Just chalk that up to my list entitled, I thought I did well, until I found out I didn’t.

Given that enlightening statistic, I am not doing so well with my backyard hens. I’m down to only 3. I know, I know. If you’ve been hanging around this blog for long you might remember I started with a lot more than three. More like 15. But you know, life happens. There have been accidental deaths, malicious deaths, unexplained deaths, and drownings. It’s been quite the ride.

And if you haven’t been hanging around here long, here’s the dealio.  These girls were raised in the house, yes you read that right, in the house! First in the bathtub of the extra bathroom then in the spare bedroom/office. A cardboard box served us well as a brooder until they were old enough to go outside. Looking back I realize I might have been a bit overprotective. They would sit on our hands and sit on the desk with me.  Looking back I realize I didn’t realize little chicks could put off so much dander.  Woowee, the dusting I did once they were outside.  Then as they got older, they were treated to earthworms bought from the bait store. I watched them grow from little fuzzy chicks to the awkward ugly teenagerish stage before they turned into hens.  They would fly on our laps, hide eggs willy nilly.  They learned to get along with the dogs or rather the dogs learned to get along with them.  One even hitched a ride with J-Dub to church and was walking around in the church parking lot.

These chickens have traveled with me, moving from Texas to New Mexico in the back of a truck because I couldn’t bear to part with them. They are dear to my heart. They have given me hours of enjoyment. Just the other day, I was throwing sticks for the dogs in the backyard and one of them attempted to fetch with them, running out behind them after the stick, hoping it was something a bit tastier, a Slim Jim perhaps. Of course I tried to get a video but by the time I ran to the house and grabbed the phone, everyone (dogs and chicken) had lost interest in my game.

These chickens are tough.  You have to be to live around here.  Just the other day I accidentally pelted one  in the head with a pine cone.  Pure accident.  Trust me, I didn’t miss my calling playing softball.

Recently we’ve been dealing with our new dog Ozzie, the chi-weenie, really giving the chickens fits. There is one hen in particular he likes to bully and we’ve taken to calling her mangled back because he literally will get on her and attempt to pluck her alive, leaving her down exposed. Her back is a mixture of yellow and white soft feathers. He is punished harshly when he is caught but he is proving himself to be a slow learner in regard to the chickens. I didn’t know what to do and I almost gave him away but J-Dub, seeing the distress it was causing me and EK both, built a portable chicken tractor/coop for the chickens. Before that, they roosted in an old well house but were free to come and go and roam as they pleased. With this new chicken coop on wheels they are enclosed constantly but safe from the terror of the chi-weenie.

I prefer them to be free range. They prefer to be free range. But it puts me at ease to know they are safe when I can’t watch them closely. Each day I  let them out to roam about and forage and I put the dog up.  All animals are treated equally.

J-Dub worked a long time on the chicken tractor and I am so happy with it. These contraptions range anywhere from a couple of hundred to thousands of dollars. We tried to be as economical as possible and also reuse things around the place. Upcycle if you will. We can actually call ourselves green now.

He bought the lumber new and built a 6 foot by 6 foot frame. He covered it all in wire, bolted  two wheels on the back (which may need replacing) and a handle on the front to push/pull/heave it around. There is a door to let the chickens in and out. On the back he built a box for them to nest in, equipped with their own little ladder to climb. The nesting box has a lid that opens up so I can reach in and get the eggs. He covered part of the top with tin and yes, he did, he added rain gutter which flows into the watering trough. On the opposite end is a feed trough with a trap door so I can dump hen scratch in easily.

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And no, I don’t have trick chickens that lay oblong, funky shaped caps of some sort.  That’s just a decoy.  It worked.

Basically it’s a chicken dream house.  And I’m really getting the itch to stock it with some babies.

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Author:

I’m Angel, a.k.a. Rocket Surgeon, and these are my chronicles. I love writing and I believe our stories should be shared, so here you’ll find anecdotes of my life, loves, worries, fears, joys, and experiences. I blog about my mishaps and adventures as a wife, mommy, auntie, wanna-be writer, teacher, Texan, country/city/mountain girl, cereal killer and Jesus-freak. A few things you might discover about me: •Jesus is my everything; without Him I am nothing, but with him I can do all things •My family makes this world a better place for me to live in •I adore chickens, the live ones, although the cooked ones aren’t too bad either •I have 2 dogs: Grace and Ozzie. And one cat: Rocky Muffin •My dream job would be to raise chickens and write best sellers Thanks for stopping by. Kick off your shoes and stay awhile. I know your time is valuable and I honor you for spending a few moments here with me. I hope you find something to brighten your day, lighten your load, make you chuckle and remind you of the good in the world. “When you look for the bad in mankind, expecting to find it, you surely will." Pollyanna I’m always eager to meet new online friends, so leave a comment and introduce yourself.

5 thoughts on “The Chicken Chronicles: An Update and Addendum

  1. Oh yeah… I so remember when you got your baby chicks!! My granddaughter got hers the day after yours! And I have always admired you for how much love and attention you showered on these little ones. The new “abode” for them is pretty amazing and JDub did an outstanding job. He must have some touch of sentiment for them as well, to put so much thought into their new dwelling! I will certainly rest easier tonight knowing all is well in your “neck of the woods” ! (ha,ha) and Happy Birthday to all three of your chicks! Until next time … Donna H.

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    1. Donna, you are so good for sticking around here for so long!!! Especially when I am so inconsistent with my posts. I truly, truly appreciate you, friend! Much love……

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      1. Just so you know, I check EVERY day!! (well, ok, I “occasionally” but rarely miss a day!) I’m here until you say otherwise, or quit 😦 Hugs to all there .. Donna H.

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