Monday, July 18, 2011

Chicken Homicide

Sigh. Unfortunately, I cannot report an end to the dead chickens. We solved the original problem (M caught two raccoons and three opossums in a live trap) and somehow we now we have a new problem: Chicken cannibalism. I mean, seriously? Maybe someone got the bright idea to have a taste of the scraps the predator left behind and they liked it. There's no way to know which chicken is guilty, so I did a Google search and came up with a few strange-sounding ideas, like replacing their water with salt water for a few hours. Maybe the salt resets their little bird brains? A solution that does make sense is to give them more time to roam free, which we haven't been doing lately. As soon as they get outside, they immediately run for our garden and start devouring our not-quite-ripe vegetables. Our peach tree is currently loaded down with hundreds of peaches we can't wait to get our mouths on, and I'm sure the chickens would delight in that fruity feast. There was also a suggestion to hang CDs from the roof at chicken-eye level and they could peck out their bird aggression on their own shiny reflections. One day of salt water and one dangling CD seem to have slowed down the murder rate, but have not eliminated the violence entirely. We are down to eight eggs a day, which is enough for my baking and our Saturday-morning scrambled egg feasts, but falls a bit short of providing the six-plus dozen we have been selling to other families each week. We have several (twelve-ish) Americana hens who should start laying any day, and about twenty chicks who were hatched from our own eggs. We won't be doing any more incubating anytime soon, as the roosters went to live on a 'big farm' in an attempt to cut down the bird-on-bird violence.

Some of the residents of the chick-house
(What -- were you expecting a picture of a dead chicken?)

I'm happy to say that the garden is producing a-plenty, and if you live anywhere near me and have a craving for cucumbers or green beans, please let me know. It's interesting to see what thrives in our soil, and right now cucumbers are taking over! I like them, but I'm the only one in the family who will eat them, so about five per day is more than we can deal with. Luckily, the chickens love eating them and the kids love feeding them to the chickens. Too bad that isn't one of the magic cures for chicken cannibalism. We also have blueberries, blackberries, peaches, herbs, and beans out the wah-zoo. I love all of the fresh veggies at my doorstep and feel blessed that we have access to land and soil and the time to do it ourselves!

 If I could bottle the smell of this peach tree, I'd be a millionaire.

  It's such a treat to head out to the yard every afternoon at snack-time. 

I'm drooling over the green tomatoes and waiting not-so-patiently for my favorite summer meal -- tomato, basil, and mozzarella sandwiches. Yum!


  1. Hey!! Great to see what you've been up to, as always. Sorry to see the chicken-disappearing issues haven't quite gone away. OK, silly question of the day from a total townie: "why do you have to incubate the eggs anyway? Don't the hens want to sit on them?" And cross-cultural anglophone question: what is "out the wah-zoo"?! Sounds interesting!!

  2. Hey there Om Mom, you can let the hens sit on their eggs - sometimes they will, sometimes not - it's a hormonal cycle thing. If they decide to sit, they won't lay new eggs for about 30 days while they mostly just sit on the egg(s). That happened to us once by accident, I left the eggs for one day without collecting them and all of the hens got broody (meaning in the hormonal cycle to hatch their eggs). So we had chickens we were feeding and taking care of but no eggs for a month! Another reason to remove the eggs to an incubator is that often chicken maternal instincts aren't that strong and they (or their friends) will hurt the new vulnerable chicks. I'm sure the friendly farm image of the hen being followed by a string of adorable fuzzy chicks is feasible, but I've never seen it in real life. We remove the eggs to an incubator and then keep them in the "chick house" after they hatch until they are large enough to live outside. We have an intermediate enclosure they live in until they're the same size as the rest of the chickens.
    As for out the wazoo, which I apparently spelled wrong:

  3. Oh is this B already?? He's just so precious!! I'd love to have a fruit and veggie garden but I can't even take care of a hydroponic plant for 1 week!