Tag Archives: chickens and predators

Chickens in the Trees!

Oh, there are chickens in the trees!

What on earth is going on that the chickens have decided to sleep in the trees.  This is all because of the black minorcas I picked up.  Turkens don’t fly well enough for this to occur to them.  I wouldn’t be concerned, but my neighbors haven’t managed to solve the grey tabby cat problem.  They are trying really hard to solve it, but we still have that cat hunting our yards at night.  I’m not sure it is enough of an issue to clip their wings and it has been ridiculously hot here.  I wouldn’t want to sleep in the coop either.

There’s the silly rooster.  It’s utterly absurd.  At night the minorca has been sleeping up there, but she is a black chicken with black feet and I can never find her.  I went to Chism Heritage Farm for the weekend and my husband texted me with “the chickens are in the tree and not the coop, I hope that is ok”.    I was pulling them out of the tree last night and putting them back in the coop but gave up halfway through and went to bed.   It’s something I will have to ponder today.

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Tedium and Chickens

One of the most tedious of garden jobs to me is pricking out seedlings into flats.  I have a ton of flats that are overdue for transplant.  The weather this spring has been so odd, I’m off my game.  Today, I was lucky that my dear friend who owns garden D came over to talk to me while I moved plants around.  That always helps me stay on task.  We had a nice (albeit muggy) afternoon talking and transplanting.

I’ve been out doing promotions for the backyard tour and one of the questions that comes up a lot is the noise of chickens.   Chickens talk a lot.  Roosters yell a lot.  Roosters don’t just crow at sunrise.  I find chicken noise to be incredibly peaceful for the most part.  They have very communicative little noises.  Play, food, surprise are all things they are able to communicate.  One thing that they do drives me bonkers, but they don’t do it much.  If the hawk flies over, one will run out and start and alarm cluck that is incredibly loud.  The others will then go hide.  The red hen sounds the alarm for hawks and the turken does it for cats.  Very weird little system they have.

Two of the chicks moved next door this week to their forever home.  They have lush new accommodations, but cannot figure out how to get to their nest boxes at night.  My neighbor goes out every night and picks them up and puts them up high.  While we were transplanting starts and tossing worms to the chicks, I noticed that one of the old hens was up in the kids fort.  I couldn’t believe it, I had no idea they went up there.  It provided our answer about the chicks, they should be capable of getting into their nest boxes on their own.

Good place to escape my blood thirsty dog boy, but bad place for escaping the hawk.  The hawk swoops over the yard and over to the tree on the left beyond the fort.  I’ve seen it just that low about right there where she is standing.

Looks like I have two roosters.  One of the Lankenvelters turns out has decided to be a boy.  Isn’t he beautiful?  His name is now “soup”.  This issue is probably the biggest one I get questioned about when speaking to people about chickens.  Roosters are not allowed in many municipalities.  Sad, but it’s the way it is.  You can order chicks that are “female”, but there are mistakes in sexing.  Always expect that the supplier will get some wrong.  Hens get old.  If you want pets, that’s ok.  If you are producing eggs, it may not be.  Feed costs money.  It’s not too bad to feed a pet, but a non productive chicken is another thing.  I’m only allowed a certain number of chickens.  My chickens become soup when they stop laying.  I don’t have room for chickens as pets.  That’s my decision, but it is something to consider before you get backyard urban chickens.

My other roo is an unusual breed called Derbyshire Red Cap.  He isn’t technically mine.  He belongs to my friend Heather.  She has not named him soup.   She would like to find him a home and I’m good with that.  It will take quite a while to get him up to an edible size because of his breed.  The comb that is growing on his head is fascinating to me though and I find him quite beautiful as well.  Sadly, his comb is obscured in this picture.

So with good company and inquisitive chickens milling about we had a really nice afternoon transplanting.  I can’t imagine how people could focus on the noise when chickens can be such nice companions.  The white rock at the top has the worm game all figured out and won’t stray too far from me when I’m outside.  They are the breed that picked up the fastest on the human having good treats.

Chickens Won’t Walk in the Snow

We’ve had our first real snow of the season here in south St. Louis.  The chickens are not pleased.

The backyard covered in snow.One of the big problems for them is that it never really gets dark here when there is snow on the ground.  Three of my chickens are retired layers from a farm.  The first two nights they were here they totally freaked out about going to bed.  It’s not quiet here, it’s not dark.

It’s really a beautiful snow, I have no idea why the chickens won’t walk out in it.  This is a problem.  The other thing about cities is they are stocked with predators.  Dr. Trivia’s 500 cats are not going to let a night go without checking to see if I put the chickens away.  Normally in the evening I just have a seat and wait until they all decide to mill about and into bed.  Generally by 8 o’clock they have all headed into the coop and I can close the pop hole and get back inside.  I can’t even sit them out, my chair is covered in snow.

This seemed like an ideal time to use the evil dog for good.  He loves to chase the chickens so I went to send him under the porch where I can hear them (not the wisest of all plans) fortunately I forgot that I moved the rain barrel closer to the back stairs so no dogs can get under there.  It would have been a bad plan.

I can’t find a flashlight so I grab the camera and head out to see if I can find them.  Today was pork liver keep away sporting day for the chickens, so they’ve had a great day trying to tackle each other in their little selfish ways.  They were still tackling each other when the snow started up so they rushed under the porch on the way back to the coop and apparently sat down.

I found “little red hen” first.  She want’s to go to the coop and just can’t quite summon up the courage to go.  I have left these unpatched holes under the porch this spring because I thought it might provide some cover when the chickens need to escape.  I had a raptor get one about a month or two ago.  I thought there were enough shrubs in the yard, but no.  So we have this weirdly patchy double thing going on and a water barrel so I am not at all ever going to get under this porch tonight.  To the left the grates are covered in grape and kiwi vines as well.  Sigh.

So where are the rest of the girls?  Perching on metal pipes under the porch.  Jeez.  Metal?  Really ladies?  You won’t walk 10 feet in the snow, but standing on metal seems fun?  I can’t get them out.  Gigantor the Possom that lives in the abandonded building across the street, or the 500 cats, or the raptor that hunts at dawn are going to swoop them up in the morning because they are not smart little creatures.

Look at this warm and inviting coop!  It’s got a tarp, a heat lamp, plenty of wind blocks.  It’s nestled all nicely on the north side of my neighbors house.  You would think one of them would be brave and go.

Sigh.

So, there is some good that comes from the snow.  I can see how effectively my compost pile it working.  The answer is, it’s just not.  I will need to give it some attention in the next couple of days in an effort to get it doing what it needs to do again.  Do you know how I can tell?  There is snow on it.  It’s not warm at all.  Thinner snow than the rest of the yard, but not by much.  This is my cheater pile of last year’s debris waiting to be spread out in spring hopefully after it has broken down.  Hauling it to continue breaking down does not seem optimal.

This picture shows pretty accurately how bright it is out there.  Will I have any chickens tomorrow?  I go to bed with a queasy stomach thinking about it.