When I stepped into the backyard of the house in a quiet suburb, I was hit by the smell of shit and death. I had visited this place two weeks before and somethings had changed, namely the torn animal pens, the scattered feathers and chicken pieces, and the upset woman, April, who’d asked me to rescue the ones left alive. She was devastated. These were her pets and she could do little to protect them.
The night had been made hideous and I could imagine the screams of the birds as they were attacked and pulled through too small holes, ripped apart, and eaten alive. Even the little fuzz ball babies that I had seen there before were gone. The culprit: Racoons.
One raccoon is a nuisance. A group of racoons is a horror. Collectively they are called a ‘gaze’ of raccoons but that does not describe the destruction they will bring down on a chicken coop. The attacks had been escalating over days. She lost over 20 chickens that night. More the next.
So, after an afternoon of catching chickens… really, I was trying to catch them and she was catching them, we transported 35 new chickens to my farm. That put my flock count at 60. Plus, I have 3 chicks in a brooder that will join the flock soon. I have no room for that many chickens so we are building out the new pens as fast as possible.
I also have chicken factions:
There are tree chickens that stay in the trees and bushes all night. They crow by my bedroom window in the morning.
There are chickens that stay under my house all day. I’m pretty sure there are eggs, but I’m not going in there.
There are chickens that try to roost on my front porch at night. No dice bitches. Too much poop.
There are chickens that roost on any high place including truck trailers and the roof of the chicken coop. Each evening, we would have to gather their chubby asses and toss them in the pen.
And the fighting… The yard sounds like Jurassic park with all the calls and crowing. I have at least seven roosters now and there are been many ‘conversations’ about who’s in charge. Two of the roosters tag team the hens in their group. The hens fight each other. One hen is now isolated because of an injury so bad, I can see all the way down to her shoulder joint, bone and all. Chickens are metal.
And of course, there is shit everywhere. And because of the stressful situation that they came from and the living situation they are now in, I have fewer eggs. Go figure.
It is what it is and I have tall boots. I will say that it’s a joy to see the hoard come running when I do my feeding call.
The goal here is to continue the breeding program that April started. People will pay good money for the fertilized eggs of purebreds.
They are now living in one big pen and I am not allowing them to range so that they can learn where home is. After a week or so, I should have this mischief managed.
Pray for me.
I am posting these pictures because of interest please understand that these are gruesome. Thank you April for sending these to me. Your babies are safe now.
An escape from the suburbs and corporate America spawned a journey into rural living. Writer, wife, mother, and local chicken lady, join me as I fail, fail, fail! and learn along the way.