Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chicken Rescue

I usually get on and off the expressway about a mile north of my road so I can avoid the traffic on my own road. One day last week, I was heading for the expressway when out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw a flock of chickens. Chickens move differently from other birds and their odd motion caught my eye. What was unusual was they were in the deserted parking lot of a torn down gas station. The area behind the gas station used to be a lovely little piece of nature with a small pond and a natural wooded area beyond, but now it's just a weed patch with a lot of detritus left by thoughtless people. I was on an errand and didn't stop or think about those chickens until later.

When I was on my way home, I saw two young men standing in the parking lot watching the chickens. I drove past, then decided to turn back and offer my help. I thought maybe the boys were dealing with an escaped flock. It turned out that the boys, Sean and Dakota, were just watching and wanting to pet a chicken. It looked like there were at least a dozen chickens running through the weeds and some of them looked injured. It was impossible to determine the breed of the chickens, they were kind of a motley crew, some white, speckled, golden, and black.

We decided to try to catch as many as we could, so I drove home for some supplies. Those very nice boys knew nothing at all about chickens, but they worked really hard for a couple hours while we tried different ways to catch or trap the chickens. Finally, when the sun was going down, the chickens started roosting and burrowing into clumps of grass, and we started catching them. The boys couldn't hold onto any of the poor hens until Sean found some gloves in his car, then the gloves made him brave enough to hang on. We caught five and scared away quite a few. One white rooster and a couple of hens were the only ones roosting above the ground and they were in a willow shrub just a few feet above the weeds.

I took five hens home that night and then went back by myself the next night. It was really cold and really dark, in a place that seemed really dangerous. A young girl was attacked there and dragged into the woods a year or two ago and once I started thinking about that it seemed really foolish to spend much time there alone. I caught three more hens, plucked two right out of the willow bush by giving the rooster a shove on his chest so he lost his balance and dropped down a branch. I surely do not need another rooster, but I'm sorry I didn't take him. The next day, all of the chickens were gone. I found only a few piles of feathers.

Yesterday, I visited with some people (freecyclers who generously gave me some wood for my chicken house)who live just down the road from that place - I got to meet their potbelly pigs, all four living in an apartment with two adults and two cats. They said the coyotes had been really loud a couple nights ago. Well, I'm glad that at least eight hens survived. They are living in my stallion barn - there isn't enough sunlight in there, but I thought they should be isolated at least temporarily.

Now that I've seen the chickens living in the barn, I'm wondering why I decided to build a chicken house, I should probably just move all of the chickens into the barn - I could put the hens all in the double stallion stall and put the roosters across the way in one of the 12x12 stalls. They would be warmer all winter and it would be easier to care for them. I can even heat that barn if necessary.

1 comment:

RugloverMary in Victoria, BC said...

I have really enjoyed reading about our poultry adventures. I am too much a city girl, but I love your courage and stamina