Friday, June 15, 2012

Chickie Pies

Things have largely settled down on the chicken front, but it was a challenging spring.

Out of our first batch of chicks, one ended up being a rooster (now residing in a neighbor's freezer), and I sold three pullets to someone in my neighborhood.

About six weeks after getting our first batch of baby chicks, I spotted some Polish chicks in the feed store. I'd really wanted Polish to begin with, but they weren't available the week we got our first batch of chicks.

See? Aren't they adorable?

Alas, they both ended up being males and two months later I had to sell them on Craigslist. My first call was from a chatty sort who knew absolutely zip about chickens. I explained that she couldn't have two roosters, but she wanted both and wanted to talk about it for a long time. She wanted to know if the rooster would fertilize the egg before or after it was laid. She talked about putting the rooster with a hen "for a few hours" until he did the deed. She finally flaked out. Shocking, I know.

I sold the first boy the next day, but the second one took about two more weeks. He finally went to a guy with scary teeth who wanted to know if I would deliver, probably because he was legally enjoined from crossing state lines. I hope the little guy is doing okay.

For the brief time I had them, I loved the Polish and will probably try again with them next year by buying a whole batch. Chicks are generally sold in batches of twenty-five, so initially we went in with some other neighbors to split the order. As a result, we didn't really get what we wanted. Now, having sold six chickens from right in the middle of the city, I'm feeling pretty cocky confident about my ability to move chicks.

Another challenge of the Polish was that they were six weeks younger than the first batch; they couldn't all be housed together. So, the rocks moved to the spare bathtub on the first floor and the Polish went in a washtub in the same tiny room. When they finally all moved outside, I needed two separate runs as well.

Other challenges?

The tiny little dog--the tiny, little, cute, fluffy, dog--it turns out, is absolutely a stone cold wolf at heart. He literally tried to snatch a day-old chick out of my hands. For the longest time, I couldn't even get him to pay attention to me if they were anywhere around. He was banished from the bathroom, obviously, but his predatory tendencies meant that once the chicks went outside, he was banished from the yard as well.

Our mornings went something like this:
  • Wake in a blinding panic around 3:45 a.m. when the rooster started crowing. Roosters are illegal in the city, and I lived in terror that someone would report us. The rooster was still too small to bother butchering, but I could ill afford any kind of city inspection.
  • Go downstairs and let the tiny dog outside in the backyard where he spent his time NOT peeing and NOT pooping, but snuffling about, eating feathers, and trying to dig his way into the temporary chicken run.
  • Meanwhile, I'd wrangle the six older chicks into a cat carrier, which got progressively heavier as the weeks went on, and then hide them in the stairwell from the dog.
  • I'd feed the cats at some point while the dog was out, since in addition to eating chicks, he also likes to eat cat food.
  • Then, I'd let the dog in, cordon him off in the living room and feed him breakfast.
  • I'd retrieve the chickens from the stairwell and take them out to their run.

  • Next, I'd hand carry the Polish outside to a large wire crate.

  • Then I might go back to bed for a few hours since it was just now dawn.
Our afternoons involved me taking the dog for a long walk, since he couldn't go out in the yard while the chicks were outside. Evenings reversed the morning routine. It was a major hassle.

With time, fewer chickens, some training, and the installation of the chicken run on the far side of the back fence, things have largely settled down.

After a few fits pitched on my part, LB largely finished the chicken run. The roosters are gone. The chickens, now numbering within the legal limit, are permanently outside. We've got our bathroom back. The tiny dog still eats feathers, but no longer charges the coop and can be trusted outside again.

Now we're just waiting for eggs.


Crafty and Crap said...

Riley is the only one who chases the chickens but he has his hannibal mask. They both are rather afraid of the girls.
Our orphington is broody for a second time since we've owned them. The other two layers have never gone broody and poor matzah.. well, if you ever want a cool looking chicken that doesn't lay, I've got the girl for you.

Tempest ina Pot of Tea said...

Can I just say to you urban farmers, though I am happy you like your chickens,but I like my chickens fried. ;^y