Who Doesn’t Like A Little Chicken Chase

This actually happened about two years ago but I figured the story is good enough to still document. We bought our first chickens in the late winter right after we moved to our “rural” neighborhood (Dec 2009). We had never been in that kind of rural environment or had chickens. We bought our chickens from a lady that was moving due to a divorce and ended up getting three hens, one rooster and one heavy coop (thanks again dad and to my bros for helping). The house we just moved into had almost no yard work done and nothing done for the pasture area in the back.  There were no fences anywhere on our property but the coop that we just bought had an attached chicken run. So we just let the chickens hang out in there and would let them out from time to time to roam the pasture and yard. We had two dogs at the time but they really left the chickens alone and we tried to watch them when the chickens were loose. It worked great for awhile but we got a little too lax in keeping an eye on our fluffy butts while they were roaming.

This is where the story really starts. Amber had been under the weather with some bug and had almost completely lost her voice. It was really kind of funny, she sounded like one of those dogs that have had their voice boxes removed. There’s the air moving but nothing to give her voice any substance. I was washing one of the dogs in the bathtub when I think hear a loud commotion. I wasn’t sure though because the dog was making some noise. I went back to washing the dog. I start to hear this really odd noise. It sounded like a rushing wind. I know that sometimes the spirit can talk to you in this way but I wasn’t feeling like that was the case. I hear the noise a few more times so I decide I need to go investigate. But I have a very wet dog in the tub that all she wants to do is give a great big shake and spread wet dog smell all over the bathroom. So I’m trying to figure out how to keep her in the tub while I go see what is going on when I hear the noise again and it sounds like it is really close.

Turns out that the noise is my poor wife trying to yell at me. The weird noise she was making was her trying to yell “Cody, there’s a chicken in the house.” It took her a couple more times for me to understand what she was saying and get the gist of what was going on. I guess we had just washed the other dog. Someone had let her outside even though we had the chickens out roaming. Unfortunately for our rooster Spike, our dog was in a playful mood and she made a bee line for the little guy. Well the rooster and dog went all over the yard. The dog got a couple of our guy’s tail feathers out before Mr. Spike decided to run for the safest place he could find, the open door into our dining room. Well, our dog was not giving up that easily so he went on in the house too and continued to give chase. So now we have my dog chasing my rooster and my wife trying get dog and rooster back out of the house, thus the commotion that I heard earlier.

The best part of this was that this was before Amber conquered her fear of chickens. She was deathly afraid of the things. So didn’t dare pick up the rooster to protect it from the dog or to remove it from the house. And that’s where the heroic man of the house stepped in (me). Amber wasn’t sure where the rooster ended up but she thinks that it went in our bedroom.  I’m thinking “Great, now we have chicken poop all over the place.” I looked all over our bedroom with no sign of Spike and luckily no signs of poop either. I check the bathroom out, I check the bathtub and the shower stall. Apparently Spike had been studying with Houdini. I was starting to walk back out of the bathroom when I see a little movement coming from behind the toilet.  Sure enough the poor little guy was tucked back there just a shaking. I removed him from behind my glorious throne and tried to calm him down. He had lost almost all of his beautiful tail feathers. Besides a little lost pride and tail feathers he seemed to be ok.

We learned from this and a few other experiences that our and neighbor dogs don’t mix with our chickens and invested in pasture fencing before the following summer was done.

 

Breasts? … Why Yes, We Have Plenty

I don’t know if you really can have enough breasts but the title sounded really funny to me at the time. We just slaughtered 21 meat birds. It was a neat learning experience. We ordered these cute little fluffy babies from Murray McMurray Hatchery. They had great reviews on backyardchickens.com and the reviews about their Cornish Crosses were pretty awesome. These little babies can grow from cute little chickies to very large breasted chickens ready to slaughter in only 6 to 8 weeks.

We ordered our set of 25 birds for June 24th. They arrived all cute and fluffy in a little cardboard box. We were very pleased that all arrived alive and looked very healthy and active. We only lost four birds due to unexpected circumstances. We lost two to certain someones, I won’t name names, placing water containers on their poor little heads, I guess they’re just allergic to not breathing. The accidental deaths of these two babies made the culprits feel  pretty bad. We lost another two because our cute little girls decided that they didn’t want to take care of the chickens that day and they died either from dehydration or being trampled by the other babies. That was a fun lesson for the girls because we made them clean up the dead chickens (ie throw them in a garbage bag) with their bare hands. Kyrah was not too phased by the whole thing but Aliyah … that was another issue. There were tears, stomping of feet and other such theatrics (they’re so creepy, etc.). She finally was convinced that it was important to do. Hopefully it was a good learning experience about being responsible.

So 21 birds survived to the big day which ended up being four big days because it apparently takes awhile to kill and process 21 birds. We were grateful to have the help of my  siblings (Derek, Kristin, Spencer and Kami) with the slaughtering and skinning. Even my poor sweet wife helped on the day that it was just us. She still blames me for the chicken lungs that she has nightmares about. So next year, I will do the killing/skinning. She will do the processing (cutting the meat into parts).

It was quite incredible to see the size of breasts on these birds. They were easily seven inches long. I know of few people who’d be quite jealous of these shapely little ladies. All without any drugs, surgeries, or all natural supplements ;). The legs were huge and really didn’t have as strong a dark meat flavor than other chicken that I’ve had. Which is great for my sweet lady because she no likey the dark meat. The meat was incredibly tender and just all around fantastic.

By the time I was done with the final bird, I was very tired of blood, feathers and guts with the occasional poop being flung at me by chicken death throes. I was wavering quite a bit on whether we’d do another batch next year. However, after seeing a fridge full of fresh, healthy chicken, I’m pretty convinced that we’ll do it again. We learned a lot of what not to do this year and hope to have a few less water containers on poor undeserving chickie heads.