Hello my name is Chad k and I live on the westcoast of Canada in a place called Halfmoon Bay British Columbia. We are located on the Sunshine Coast and yes it is as beautiful as it sounds. I started my life with chickens oh I’d say about a year ago when the local feed store Quality Farms was hosting their bi-annual chicken day. What happens in case you don’t know is people pre order chickens $10 a laying hen and on that day everyone on my little coast goes and picks up their order.
There are many reasons why people get chickens that day, some are re-stocking birds that have retired from their laying job, some people want fresh eggs everyday others are replacing hens taken out by predators and around here where we live, that can mean wolves, raccoons, cougars, weasels, bobcats and bears to name only a few. We fell into the category of fresh eggs daily.
I stood in line next to a young woman who was getting 12 pullets. I was so excited I had to make conversation so I said to her "Wow 12 birds huh, do you have a lot of chickens already?" She replied, "We had a dozen hens but a bear came through our yard a ways back and destroyed our coop and killed all of our birds." I imagined what she told me and I was horrified. She collected her chickens and off she went. I was next in line. I was so excited that I began to giggle. This is a nervous reaction of mine when I am brimmed with excitement. Then... Off I went with my first 4 ISA Browns all crammed into a box. I put the box into the back seat next to Ernie my French bulldog who was also very excited about the whole ordeal.
Part of this master plan was to stop by the SPCA to see our friend Sarah who talked us into adopting an abandoned Rooster several days before the big day at Quality Farms. My wife and I were very hip to the idea, as a lot of our research had revealed that in order to experience the shear joy of backyard flock a Rooster kind of needs to be part of it. Neither of us had ever been near a rooster so that part itself felt exciting. So there I went to our local SPCA on the way home where I picked up the Rooster himself.. "Johnson" If Roosters could be action heroes’ stars then Johnson was about to have his own star on Hollywood Blvd. I swear I had no idea at all what this remarkable bird was capable of or going to do for my family and I.
OK So the first morning Johnson is up at the crack of dawn letting all of Halfmoon Bay that he has arrived. Given we do live in a somewhat rural/remote area we figured we could get by with a little cock-a-doodling. We had no idea just how loud he was going to be. Of course we panicked and in hind sight probably over reacted but we get along with all of our neighbors every one of them so we didn’t want to make them endure this birds song at such an ungodly hour. After we completed our research on how to stop a rooster from crowing, which was startling I might add, we decided to bring in Johnson at night in his fancy red kennel he came in from the SPCA.
This became a routine every night at dusk his 4 girlfriends would get into their chicken coop and we would chase around Johnson then bring him in. It wasn’t until the third month we figured out he would let himself back to the coop where the girls were, where we could just go ahead and pick him up. He had some authority issues for sure.
He liked to sit and be pet for a while of course in front of a movie or a visit to BYC. I'd swear sometimes he really knew what was going on. Like there was a person in there? Always with the wattles and the scratchin' and this little chatter almost whisper movement of his beak. This may sound crazy but on many occasions I look into Johnsons red eyes and almost feel like he was trying to tell me something. I always dismissed it as absurd or crazy but I definitely always felt something with this guy. Could it be that I was born The Year of Rooster?
Johnson slept every night in the spare bedroom closet in his red kennel where he could crow his little heart out every morning (and he did) and none of our neighbors would be bothered by it. We would let him out at 830-900 am everyday and he would race down the patio steps to get at his girls seemingly upset and angry like they had been out all night or something when in actuality he was the one that had been out. You know he would do his little krump dance before he would do his thing then let the world know that this was his claim and all “would be's & could have beens” had just better stay away.
Of course he would crow during the day but nothing a little egg bribing with the neighbors wouldn’t fix. Our neighbors enjoyed the comedy quartet as in the beginning Johnson had a hard time understanding that the entire cul-de-sac was not our 1-acre property. Now If you have heard me rant about Rooster equal rights then you know I believe that as long as dogs bark, children scream & people party in your neighborhood then a little crowing should be tolerated --nuff said.
So originally when we decided to get chickens we of course needed a coop and we looked and looked at many of the wonderful ideas and fortresses on BYC. I really wanted to build my own accept I am a little challenged in the carpenter dept. So I cruised craigslist and answered back to several adds. I got a reply from a dude who said he specialized in gazebos, decks front porches and what not. He told me he had not done a chicken coop before that it was sort of “small potatoes” for the kind of work he was used too. He said he needed the work though and what the hell what a breeze it will be. THAT’S when the flag should have registered. Long story short this is what he built us for $200… uuug. See pic.
With most nights pretty calm outside in the coop with the occasional predator passing thru Johnson was enjoying his life at night indoors. During the day he was everything a good Rooster should be. Stood center yard, kept eyes on the sky and the property line for incoming intruders. He always let me know when Bailey the neighbor’s dog or Tabby the cat was on the property. I knew from hearing him like I recognized what he was trying to say. Sometimes the girls would wander off he would lure them back with the tid-bitting dance show sometimes in the middle of the street. He fed them and he bathed with them. We spent (and still do) so many hours watching chicken TV with the 5 of them. Who needs cable when you got “All My Chickens” or “As The Coop Turns”?
Despite what they say about Roosters, Johnson sure was a friendly Roo to grown ups, children and even Ernie. When it was time to turn it on though, he would with zero fear. He was good to our kids and loved chasing Ernie around. There are a lot of videos of the two of them mucking about in the yard.
One rainy evening during the month May I went to go and collect Johnson. They were all huddled in the coop keeping warm and moderately dry. I decided to let his majesty sleep in the coop with his girls since he already looked comfy and happy. This was the first time I had done this in almost a year. I went to bed like usual with the monitor next to my bed and just only 15 feet away on the other side of the bedroom wall outside was the chicken coop.
I woke up at 12:45 am and went out onto the deck and looked down and our coop had been moved about 10 feet and onto its side. I instantly felt what seemed like a team of bumblebees had engaged my lower abdomen. What a horrible feeling. I raced down the steps, my heart pounding out of my chest. I was to find only one hen hiding in the corner of a rearranged chicken coop. I was confused as I looked at her. She was standing on the wall with an equally look of confusion. This was bad.Panic began to take hold and as I called them and looked around the other three hens began to appear in the yard. But no Johnson. It only took about 1 minute to figure out that he had left with what ever was strong enough to pickup and launch the coop. As I looked across the property I knew it was true… Johnson was gone for good. There didn't seem to be any signs of a fight, no blood or anything accept a tail feather left behind to show there was even a struggle.I rushed all three hens inside and looked them over for any sign of injury but there was nothing. Since they had no place to sleep Ernie was kind enough to offer his dog kennel to them for the night. In hindsight we believe that the bear huffed and puffed knocked the “straw” coop down. Johnson surely came flying out with his sleeves rolled up and ready to give his all to this bear. Despite his demise his best was enough to keep the girls all alive. I imagine now if a human did what he did they be called hero.
For whatever reason I didn’t hear the monitor that night nor the suspected bear 20 feet from where I sleep & the next morning solid evidence (in the literal sense) revealed along with some foot prints that it was in fact a bear. Later after talking to a few of my neighbors it was also revealed that Mr. Bear the buzz kill had attacked another close by neighbors coop three days prior and didn’t leave any chickens behind. Took all 5, mind you they didn’t have a rooster. How unfair this all felt and well people who don’t keep chickens (and even a lot that do) just don’t get that one could form a close bond with such a creature.
I was angry at that bear for many nights. Plotting revenge how I was too assassinate him when he returned, because they always do. I’m not lying when I say I fell asleep on that patio waiting for him on many a night.
Which brings me to the title of my story which is: The story of Three Little Pigs (except with chickens)… The Coop had been through the ringer by this point and what did the third little piggie do? He built his house out of brick so the big bad wolf couldnt get in. I didn't build
a coop from brick but I built my first chicken coop right in our basement right behind a locked steel door. A few modifications and presto! They are free-range chickens so really all they ever do is sleep in the coop. I like to think for my first project its pretty badass. It’s kind of like a basement barn. I
have an old couch just outside of the coop and quite often take an afternoon nap. Now why didn’t I
think of that before!! It is actually just off camera left and when the rain is coming down after hard day at work its nice to just lay on that couch and take a big nap. I am usually greeted by one of my Bantam Gang members looking for rent usually... a treat of some kind. I think my little Chabo Roo is probably one of my favorite chickens to date. Walking around with his head high and wings dropped to the ground. OK well better get back to my story!
We collected the eggs off the girls for the next week and hatched them all. We have been blessed with 9 little terrors 4 cockerels and 5 hens. The one we call JR who resembles him the most turns out to be a hen so what can you do. We now have our OWN incubator and we have started hatching. Wow have we started hatching. We now have 54 chickens and counting. Its just too much fun. Never thought Id be 40 and running a chicken farm. I am definatley addicted to buying and incubating eggs. Apparently they have meetings for that.
I guess in retrospect the bear that was loathed by us for so long, actually had redirected us onto a path for us to become more involved with our beloved Gallus domesticus. For example we have started an egg business at our local Farmers Market. We also have arranged to visit the local elementary school to educate & advocate. We are supporters for Canadians for Ethical Treatment of Farm Animals. Looking back now perhaps I should thank him. The probability of any one of these things happening in our life was slim let alone all of these things was just really unlikely. Had Mr Bear not come and take Johnson away so many things in our life would be different. One single event can sometimes be like a drip of water in a pond have a ripple effect that can go on and on. I am a photographer in real life not a farmer! However I could not imagine my life today without my little family of dinosaurs to greet every morning and say good night each evening.
Our First Nations people here are Coast Salish Nation and our local people call themselves Shishalh (pronounced Sechelt) and I have learned over the years many profound things from their beliefs and
medicine. One animal they hold very sacred
is Bear. Bear represents many things but as I relate it to my own experience it would be strength, transformation, family, freedom & power. Bear taught us a lesson that day that had very long residual effects and today we are grateful for his lesson & wisdom. He just better stay the **** off our property from now on is all! ;-)THE END