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post #111 of 132

@ Bine: You are so right with everything you say.


About predators: Many of our cats are highly interested in our chickens. And I occasionally let one I consider harmless accompany me into the chicken enclosure. There were no problems, except that when our cat Christmas felt crowded by 2 chickens, she swatted at them, as a warning, without hurting them.--But then, about a week ago, I let our Lucky Mama, a very mellow cat, accompany me for the first time. And while she walked through the door, big fat Big Balls (he is, meanwhile, Small Balls, but we didn't have the heart to tell him and rename him :-)) was unintentionally let in with her. I didn't trust him, so I kept a close eye on him. Mind you, Big Balls is heavy enough to squash a chicken. So I was a bit worried. Yet Big Balls behaved like a gentleman. And while I just sat and thought to myself that we had a true paradise, where the lion would lie next to the lamb, Lucky Mama, all of a sudden charged and jumped onto the back of a chicken. Lucky Mama doesn't weigh much, and she was immediately scolded and thrown out of "paradise", so no chicken was hurt. But as you say, predators can act harmless until they get hungry or until their hunting instinct gets the better of them. 


Btw, we humans are the worst of all predators. My husband and I no longer eat chicken, but how about you? Lots of BYC members slaughter and eat even the chickens they raise themselves, and who might trust them. (Yet this is still much more humane than buying factory-farmed chicken in the supermarket.) For this reason, our chickens really have no solid reason to trust us.--Three decades ago, a woman, I used to buy home-raised rabbits from, and whom I asked how she coped with slaughtering the rabbits she knew so well, replied in a very innocent way: "Oh, our rabbits have a good life. They get petted a lot." So how could our chickens know that they wouldn't get slaughtered, even after getting petted a lot?

post #112 of 132
Originally Posted by Tati View Post

@ Naliez:  You are so right with "Be careful what you wish for, though ...".  

A few decades ago, a neighbor of ours had taught her cat to use the human toilet. I don't know how she did it, and I don't know whether or not the cat flushed. Anyway, it was great. No litter box to clean, and no problems.--But then, I heard from someone else doing the same thing. He rewarded his cat with some treat, every time he flushed. The result: The cat flushed the toilet without using it and up to 30 times at night. :-(
Ha ha! Smart cat!
post #113 of 132

@ oldhenlikesdogs:  When I was a kid, my grandmother (who tended the chickens and the vegetable garden) would allow the chickens into the garden in early spring, when the garden was turned over with a shovel. (There were no tillers.) The chickens were thrilled to get to eat the earth worms that were exposed. The only problem: Lisettchen, our tamest chicken, a real pet, would stand on the shovel and made it very difficult to operate it. (I remember my father swearing at her and demanding that she was removed from the garden.) 


We plan to let our chickens into our garden, this fall, 2 at a time, while watching for hawks. (We'll also collect most of our cats before we let any chickens into the garden, and put them into the house.) First, however, we have to add some more chicken wire to the garden gates, so that the chickens can't get out. There is nothing left in our garden, this year, that's worth saving because our (meanwhile fired) caretaker/housekeeper/pet-sitter had let the garden die while we were out of town for 3 1/2 weeks. (She proved totally untrustworthy and unreliable with each and every of her duties. Just another pet-sitter catastrophe. We have had several before.)

post #114 of 132

@ oldhenlikesdogs: Thank you again. So that's what the pencil symbol is for. I had wondered.

post #115 of 132
Originally Posted by Tati View Post

@ Naliez:  P.S. One-on-one at a time seems like a great idea. Should work.
So far, it has worked on all of mine, but they forget quickly if you don't spend a lot of time with them. I left for a 4 day weekend and they took a while to get used to me again. Also, they seem to get really unfriendly right before they lay. Once the squatting starts, they're a lot easier to catch. wink.png
post #116 of 132

@ Naliez:  I don't know exactly when our girls started to lay because we were out of town for 3 1/2 weeks. When we returned, on September 13, we found one (pecked-at) egg, and from then on, found 1-3 eggs every day. We fired the no-good caretaker/housekeeper/pet-sitter upon our arrival, for various reasons, so we don't know when exactly our chickens started laying. (She would have only told us lies anyway. We had talked to her on the phone on a daily basis, and she had fed us nothing but lies.)


We think that our 2 Wyandottes and our 2 Plymouth Rocks are laying but haven't caught any in action yet. I don't think that our 2 Sex Links and our 2 Araucanas are laying yet. None of our 8 girls have been acting unfriendly at any time (yet the Araucanas and the Wyandottes have always been shyer than the Sex Links and the Plymouth Rocks), but the assumed-to-be-laying ones have started to peck the other ones.

post #117 of 132

It is hard to kill one of my sweet little roos, but they had a life. ... we had joy we had fun we had seasons in the sun...

and yes, everytime I have to say goodbye, I cry.

But see, Tati, I believe that the only way we can save all the wounderful livestock breeds is by using them as livestock. Some of our chickens are so wounderful colored they could go onto display in a Zoo and from some of our heritage breeds fewer individuals left than from the big panda. But most Zoos don't care. 
So what can we do? Three things...We can buy meat, eggs, milk, wool etc. from farms that work with old breeds. That is often expencive, but almost always organic and in a very good quality. If you can't buy it every day, you can buy it for special occasions, the goose for St. Martin or the Lamb for Easter ....

We can buy our backyard chickens and other pets from a breeder with "old" animals...

You want a German Shepherd? What about the Old German Shepherd?

... and if you need someone to mow your lawn....

Ever seen a Blacknose or a Fox sheep?



what about a Pustertaler


or a Marder

Okay.... a cow is maybe a little over the top....but if you browse through the rare breeds maybe a chicken or bunny breed will win your heart and you can join the breeders club and you can have your own backyard-panda-breeding-programm.



All this breeds (and many more) are rare and will vanish in our lifetime if we don't use them and with them we will lose our family farms and  the eco-system known as traditional farm with thousends of wild animals and flowers.

post #118 of 132

@ Bine:  Hmmh! I'll think about it, but I just got proselytized by some vegans on Goodreads. You must know that I have been battling with vegetarianism for decades (and my husband were vegan, did I not stuff eggs and, occasionally, fish down his throat). Eating meat or not eating meat is a philosophical question, neither you nor I can truly answer. As I might have said before, "With my soul I am vegetarian (or even vegan), but with my gums, I am a (literally) bloody meat eater." as my dear, sweet (so much holier than I) husband likes to put it. :-)


Btw, all these wonderful livestock breeds give a **** whether or not they become extinct. All they care about is staying alive themselves, as long as possible. (And humans without descendants, such as I, do the same.) 

post #119 of 132

Maybe they don't care, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't.
Having livestock is a win/win situation for humans and animals if it is done well.
When we look at the red jungle fowl, the wild chicken, it has a much shorter live span than a backyard chicken for many reasons. Even roosters profit from beeing a backyard roosters. When we hatch eggs every 2. chick is a little roo, but even wild chickens live in flocks with 4 to 10 hens and only one rooster. From that you can see that a roosters job in the wild is dangerous and many of the young roosters die before they have the chance to lead a flock. Our little roos grow up with their sisters til they being to fight with each other. We kill them before they kill each other and only because they will kill each other.  Our hens live til they drop dead, most will live 8-10 years. A wild chicken can live 15 years but only 25% live longer than one year.... so even if we would kill the hens after they are done laying it would be more profitable for the hens to live with us than to live in the jungle. 

People often talk about the pact we made with "our" animals and even if we never wrote a contract, we have a kind of contract. They live better and longer lifes in our backyards than in the wild and we have a  protein source. 

post #120 of 132

@ Bine:  In practice, I agree with everything you say, but in theory you and I are not yet "holy" enough. :-)


I have had the same thoughts throughout my life. I always realized that chickens would not live very long without us providing them with food (very difficult to come by during WWII and the years following) and protection. (My father, a construction engineer, had built our chickens a deluxe home with material that had also been very difficult to come by.)


Our hens were slaughtered (by someone other than our family members) after 3 or 4 years of laying (when they started to "retire"). This happened, of course, one at a time because there was no fridge, and even less a freezer. It was always a very sad event, with everyone, except my father, crying, and me pleading for the life of the chicken (even though poultry has always been my very favorite food). I always watched the slaughtering (which I found horrifying) because I wanted to be with my beloved chicken to the very end. And I ate the chicken with tears running in streams down my face. (I consoled myself a bit, telling myself that it wouldn't help the chicken if I didn't eat eat, as it was better for it to be reunited with my body than to have its body decaying in the soil. This logic wouldn't quite hold, especially because there was no danger that my part of the chicken would not get eaten by another family member, but it was the best "philosophy" I could come up with. :-))


We raised chickens (from eggs we hatched in the kitchen) only once (or possibly twice). There, we had, of course, about half of them roosters, and they did get slaughtered (again by a stranger) when they "came of age". I felt so terribly sorry for them because they only had such a short life. Even my father, who had bonded with one in particular, named "Teufelchen", was close to tears when Teufelchen's time came.


Btw, all our hens were roasted like the young roosters, and they tasted just as good. (I think they were all leghorns.) I tried to roast 2 "soup chickens", I had obtained from our egg supplier, a few years ago. They were inedible. (Even our cats weren't exited about the tough meat, and only a few not-so-fussy cats eventually and reluctantly ate the roasted "soup chickens".) I don't know the breed of these chickens. 


I did not know that roosters would kill each other in the wild. I had always wondered what happened to them and had hoped that they lived in a happy monogamic relationship with just one chicken, as swans, geese, and ducks do. 


You write: "They [farm animals] live better and longer lifes in our backyards than in the wild and we have a  protein source." This only holds true for humane family farming, certainly NOT for cruel factory-farming. This is why I keep praising family farming, even though that the farmers (just as those of us who are not all vegan) are "not quite holy enough". Nature is cruel, and mankind, as a whole, is even more cruel (just look at the Holocaust, look at ISIS, ... ... ... and look at factory-farming--all cruelty NOT subscribed by nature!)


And because nature (and our species in particular) is so cruel, I don't give a hoot about any of the species on our planet becoming extinct. "Nach mir die Sintflut!". Well, don't take me all seriously, but there is definitely some truth in it.--If the particularly loud-mouthed GOP candidate for the American presidency should win the elections, his belligerence and lack of intelligence might anyway start a war, which due to his "greatness" might become the greatest war of all times. In such case, only cockroaches (which I hear are very resistant to radiation) might survive, and then, we can only hope that they will eventually develop a more "humane" culture. Forget it! I'll take everything back. I remember reading that cockroaches are no kind creatures either. So let's stick with what we have and only hope for humane family farming getting a bigger chunk out of the food economy.


And now I'll have vegetarian lunch (I really miss the meat) and console myself with ice cream for dessert, which, regrettably, comes from factory-farming. (The  humanely produced cream I can obtain locally (and tried to use for making ice cream), unfortunately tastes "like cow" and also usually goes sour before I find time to use it. Sigh!

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