Operation chicken.

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When we started our little backyard farm we had to have chickens.  What is a farm without the clucking and cawing of hens and the natural pest control, rich poop, and occasional omelet, right?

I don’t regret having hens one bit.  They are the best pets ever and more productive than my useless dogs and cat.  The cat used to get mice and rats but I guess she retired without giving us notice because I’ve had to call Clark Pest and Rodent control for help.  The dogs have stopped eating the floor messes from the children and give me a look like I’m so rude to think they should eat off the floor…oh, and “FYI, we are tired of spilt crackers and cereal.”  Then the other day really proved my dogs uselessness when I was chasing a squirrel out of my garden and turned to see my dog, Babu, watch me with a look of encouragement as if to say, “Go on girl, you’re doing a good job.”

Then there are my girls.  They eat all the nasty bugs, enrich my soil for gardening, provide the man and boys breakfast and cost little to feed.  We don’t have to take them for walks or to a chicken park to run around, I just sprinkle diatamacius earth when they get ichy and they don’t beg for dog biscuits every five minutes.

We have four rescue hens that are well established and, after some research, I know that adding to your flock is not always easy.  Hens can act crazy and like mini gangs that aren’t cool with a new comer, sickness, weakness, and so on.  These hens are good though.  They all perch on the same level in the hen coop and they don’t bother with a sick one or tired hen.  They are all bonded and devoted to each other.  I thought it best we not bring any new girls home.

Then one day Bali took the truck to work.  When he got to the station he called me and asked that I go out and count our hens.  I reported back 4.  We had 5 but one died a few weeks after being with us.  The others have thrived.  It happens.  Bali said there was a white hen at his gas station and had thought maybe one of our girls wound up in back of the truck.  I suggested food and water and maybe she’d move on.  Chickens and roosters are very common everywhere in this town.  Winco has the most flocks because the shop owners leave pans of water out in the hot summers and elders come and feed the chickens.  This is normal.  But a hen in Bali’s work neighborhood was sort of strange and she was alone.

She wound up living there at the gas station for a couple months.  Some of the neighborhood kids would chase her and Bali would run out of his shop and yell, “That’s my chicken!”  He claimed her, fed, watered, and protected her for weeks upon weeks.

The other day a neighbor lady came by the station with a cat cage and asked that he take his chicken to his house as the hen was repeatedly tearing up the ladies garden and was about to become soup.  I begged him to take her to where all the other chickens resided in town.  I had read about mixing new chickens with settled groups of hens and I was stressed out about it.  “She’s a wild, street chicken…keep her that way!”

Ah, but Bali was attached and wanted to bring her home.  He also had some guilt.  We are supposed to be, at the very least, vegetarian but Bali has been eating chicken lately.  He ate a whole chicken at Easter and a couple days later chose garlic chicken from the Chinese restaurant.  We, his family, just watched him and kept to our veggie burgers and vegetable chow mein.  He had to recover his karma.  So, he set out to catch her Friday night and sneak her into the coop at night.  This was a trick I learned from other chicken farmers.  Try not to just add one lone chicken, first of all, and then sneak them in at night and get up early to let them out to eat and drink.  They will be too busy having breakfast to take much notice of the new club members.  It eases the drama.  Oh, Lord.  I wasn’t looking forward to a full weekend separating chicken gang members.

Just as Bali was getting her to go in the cage he had a customer and had to return to his register inside.  When he came back out a man had her tucked under his arm.  Bali asked him what he intended with her and when the man said he planned on eating her, Bali asked him to unhand his hen.  He loves telling everyone how he saved her life.  It eases the guilt of eating two of her kind.

Long story short, he snuck her in the coop late that night and the girls only gave her a few warnings the next day.  She was very respectful and just stayed out of everyone’s way.  She also flew into my garden a couple times so I clipped chicken wings for the first time.  Other than that, she was a part of the tribe by the second day and Bali watched over her all weekend with his feathers puffed up.  He was now rooster to 5 girls and a hero.  Our omelets are a little bigger as is our farm family.

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13 comments

  1. Great story, tell Bali I said, “AWWWWWWWWWWWW……” Years ago, I had some chickens in my back yard, and my rooster died (I had been warned that he was old, still wasn’t ready to lose my fertilizer). We went a few months without a rooster, then a lady called to say she had a young Antique Dominicker rooster she needed a new home for. I went to pick him up, and she explained that he was pretty shy, because any time he went to ‘top’ a hen, the older, bigger rooster would run up, knock him off, top the hen, and then to cause further humiliation, he would top the younger rooster. Talk about self esteem issues! She had him in a box, and I brought him home. I went into the chicken yard, opened the box, and out stepped the prettiest rooster I had ever seen–blue/black feathers on his body, and gold feathers speckled with black on his head and tail. I immediately named him Boy George. He was cautious, looked around a bit, then slowly started to move around the yard. Suddenly, my ‘girls’ saw him, and there was a stampede to get to him. After so long without a rooster, they were giving him the whole, “Hello Sailor, new in town?” routine, posturing and preening, cackling, “ME FIRST! ME FIRST!” Poor George was overwhelmed and began running in a panic, trying to get away from all these horny hens. He finally found the door to the coop, fled inside and jumped onto the highest roost. He stuck his head under his wing and screamed the chicken version of “LEAVE ME ALONE!” It took a few days, but finally he realized that he was safe in his new home, and he carried out his ‘duties’ with gusto, giving us many baby chicks for several years.

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    • I hear you. It worked out well but I was stressed out. Put them in the coop at night and get them out early while everyone is busy eating and drinking. Watch over them for a few days and seperate the bullies for time outs.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love in a rural area where we have many chicken growers and several chicken slaughter houses. It is not unusual to see the large trucks carrying the chickens to be processed. One day, I am coming home from a job interview. I am wearing high heels and a pencil thin long skirt. There’s a foot of snow on the ground. I see several dead chicken s on the exit ramp. I get down the road and pass a chicken sitting in a huge pile of snow. I continue down the road and have this off feeling I need to go get that chicken. So I turn around and go back. I am sure other drivers thought I had lost my mind. Here I am in a suit and heels chasing a chicken down a road. I took off my coat and tossed it over her. As I scoop her up, we are having a great conversation about how she is no longer dinner and I need her to behave in my car. She quietly say in the floor board and I drove home. She joined my neighbors multitude of chickens and I have good karma. Now, I will save the storey about chasing the pig down the road in the city for another day.

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  3. I just watched your latest Youtube video about tightening the budget because your husband was going to work fewer hours. I didn’t know how to leave comments there, so I came here….Have you ever read a blog called The Renaissance Housewife? She and her husband spend only $10 per person, per week, for food. They now have a new baby, so they allow a little more for her. She is really inspiring, homemade, and down to earth, but she doesn’t do organic. She has a couple of little books she has published as well. Just thought you might like her! (BTW…If you lived here in Indiana, you could really get a cheap house…ours is 2200 s.f. with 4 br, 2 ba. We paid $92,000. And there are gas stations galore!…..just kidding…but kinda serious…the cost of living really is cheaper)

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    • That is cheap! Here a house like that would be no less than 350K to 500K. Or more depending on condition. My family comes from Indiana but I don’t know what part. I believe grandparents lived in Liberty? They started a school and church. I’m first generation Californian.;)

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      • Wow! Small world! Liberty is about an hour and a half south of us. I have lived in Indiana most of my life, but my brother moved to California to take a job as an airline pilot out of San Francisco. He and his wife live in Sanger (near Fresno), and have rented most of their married life because it is so expensive to buy (they lost their first bought house when the bubble crashed, and 9/11 caused the layoff of lots of pilots) You and your husband are doing the smart thing…living within your means. Just imagine the value you have added fixing up your house and what it might sell for if you ever decide to move :)…not that you want to because it is just adorable!

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