Tales From Chickentown

Discussion in 'Pictures & Stories of My Chickens' started by PrairieChickens, Aug 21, 2015.

  1. PrairieChickens

    PrairieChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,679
    290
    201
    Jun 29, 2012
    Kansas
    "Chickentown" is what I call my micro-farm-in-progress in Southeastern Kansas. As the name implies, I focus mostly on chickens, but I have recently branched out into ducks, turkeys, and geese as well as attempting to grow my own produce. (Gardening has always been my dad's strength--I was always the animal whisperer.) Chickentown also serves as an educational venue--during the school year, I teach enrichment classes at a local after school program for k-5 students, and for "chicken class" they come out to interact with the flock and learn about sustainable agricultural methods.

    Recently, my dad had to move to another town quite far away, and rather than trying to sell his house (no small feat, considering the accumulation of belongings he's amassed over the years), my husband and I decided to rent it from him. My goal for the property is to do what my dad had always aspired to do and create a micro-farm that provides us with the majority of our food. I'm still a long way from that goal, but I am undaunted. This year I started small--one bed with tomatoes, peppers, carrots, and onions. My onions kicked it pretty early on because of the wet spring, but my tomatoes did remarkably well considering I basically plunked them in the ground and then ignored them.

    [​IMG]
    As you can see from the photo, I am not yet up to the task of controlling the weeds in the garden. Some of this mess can be blamed on the fact that we were moving during prime weed-growing season, allowing it to get out of hand before we settled in, but next year I plan on mitigating this mess with copious mulching and strategic use of black plastic. Most of the weeds are impressive volunteer sunflowers that I will harvest for seed when they are ready.

    [​IMG]
    Look at that sunflower infestation! Er... I mean, "crop".

    But, like I said, it's the animals I excel at. Though I can't give you an exact count on my chicken population, it's somewhere around 150 at the moment. I also have 5 ducks, 5 geese, and a handful of turkey poults. We keep the chickens mostly for eggs, but also process the extra roosters for meat. My ducks, turkeys, and geese, may someday serve as meat birds, but I got them primarily for educational purposes. If I do one day use them for meat, it will more likely be their offspring that serve this purpose, as I am already too attached to imagine eating any of them!

    [​IMG]
    Terra--foreground--is my most inquisitive and friendly goose. She is the only one that seems to enjoy being petted, but they will all come running when I call for them... something not even my chickens that I raised from hatchlings seem willing to do!

    I will likely be back with more stories soon--with so many animals, there is always something happening here at Chickentown!
     
  2. N F C

    N F C just 1 more cup pls Premium Member Project Manager

    41,904
    38,278
    1,246
    Dec 12, 2013
    Wyoming
    I enjoyed your post. Hope to read more stories from Chickentown!
     
  3. PrairieChickens

    PrairieChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,679
    290
    201
    Jun 29, 2012
    Kansas
    [​IMG]
    Welcome back to Chickentown! It was a largely uneventful day here. I dropped furniture on my foot (repeatedly) last night so for some reason I haven't felt like wandering around the yard much today. Even so, I have important chicken business to tend to tonight. The city I live in (if you can call a town of 500 a city) has requested that I keep my chickens penned up and not allow them to "run at large" in the neighborhood. A reasonable request, I think, and one I'd already been working on addressing. The only problem: I have a few chickens who will not be contained. While most of my flock is content to remain in the spacious fenced yard we provided them, a handful can only see the greener grass on the other side, and despite my best efforts have continued to live wild and free.

    First, I captured the wild chickens while they slept, gathering them up from their various roosts around the yard and moving them into a shed-turned-coop with no access to the outside and no hope of escape. Haha! Surely this would contain them! Little did I know... Their confinement lasted a whopping three days before a determined chicken managed to pop a glass window out of its pane and break free. It didn't take the rest long to figure out the escape route, and before I could patch the hole with chicken wire, my rogue chickens were once more living it up on the wrong side of the fence.

    Very well, I thought. I have another option. I will catch the wild chickens (again) and this time stick them in the bachelor run that normally houses our excess roosters. Haha! No windows! They can't squeeze through a wire fence, surely! Surely....

    Yeah, you see where this is going.

    Not only did they all escape again (losing a few feathers in the process), but my favorite hen of the bunch has disappeared entirely. She's never wandered far from home before, and I fear my very efforts to protect her may have brought her to harm. Despite a lengthy search however, I have not been able to turn up any signs she was grabbed by a predator (though I did discover a different chicken was lost to a fox that I hadn't realized was missing yet). I keep a watchful eye out for any distinctive white feathers, but if my dear "Winnie" is alive, I know she will return home soon.

    As for the rest of these rabble rousers...

    Tonight, I will implement a drastic strategy, and one I don't look forward to attempting. After dark, when the chickens are drowsy and easy to catch, I will, yet again, capture them from their roosts. This time however, rather than locking them away, I will attempt to remove their ability to escape the run in the first place. After 4 years of owning chickens, this will be my first time clipping wings.

    [​IMG]
    Copper, my golden campine, is one of my worst offenders. A skilled flier, she can clear a fence with ease, and is the first to spot a potential escape route. She prefers to roost in the trees, making her difficult to catch even at night, and will not let me within several yards of her during the daytime.

    It isn't hard to imagine why I am loathe to clip their wings. With the loss of so many of my precious birds to predators, I don't want to take away any advantage they might have. On the other hand, if they continue to run at large and cause problems in the neighborhood, they could put all of Chickentown at risk. For obvious reasons, I have to take a chance by clipping their wings. Either I will succeed, and they will be unable to clear the fence and leave the safety of the run, or they will yet again foil my attempts...and possibly sign their own fates as well. We shall see.

    Until next time!

    [​IMG]
     
    2 people like this.
  4. sunny & the 5 egg layers

    sunny & the 5 egg layers Overrun With Chickens

    4,712
    161
    296
    Mar 29, 2011
    You have a wonderful way of writing, and your stories are very interesting to follow along with. I look forward to reading more about chicken town in the future. Thanks for posting. :thumbsup
     
  5. N F C

    N F C just 1 more cup pls Premium Member Project Manager

    41,904
    38,278
    1,246
    Dec 12, 2013
    Wyoming
    @PrairieChickens that's a beautiful egg basket, such nice egg colors.
     
  6. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    I am enjoying the Chickentown stories!


    I used to have Golden Campines and they do love to wander- they used to fly over our 10 foot fence and oh how I miss them. A cat attacked one once, and she flew up into the sky to escape. Escape she did! They were some of the most cheerful talkative chickens I ever owned. One day I hope to get more. Your girl is lovely!

    What you need is some netting overhead IMO:
    http://www.mypetchicken.com/catalog/Runs-Fencing-and-Netting/Aviary-Netting-50-x-50-p1108.aspx

    Comes in different sizes- I have the 2 inch which is cheaper than 1", and I hang it onto the posts, not the fencing, so that when it snows hopefully won't bring my fencing over sideways. It is tops! I am not sure if the heavy wet snow will bring it down, though.

    Your fliers won't get out with netting! Also protects from hawks.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2015
  7. PrairieChickens

    PrairieChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,679
    290
    201
    Jun 29, 2012
    Kansas
    When we only had about 40 chickens, we kept them in a run with netting over it, but we now have half an acre fenced in for our flock--too much to put netting over unless I'm prepared to make my entire yard look like a quail farm. lol
     
  8. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

     
  9. PrairieChickens

    PrairieChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,679
    290
    201
    Jun 29, 2012
    Kansas
    [​IMG]

    It's a foggy morning here in Chickentown, but the residents don't seem to mind, and neither do I. Though it won't be long before winter bites into our lives and drives us mad with icy weather and frozen water dishes, for now a gray day is still a welcome relief from summer heat.

    My plan to clip the wings of my rogue chickens has not yet been completed. Since I have to be up at 4 AM for work during the week, my bedtime usually falls before the sun sets--and therefore before the wild chickens decide to roost for the night. I have managed to catch a couple of trouble makers and clip their feathers, but it looks like at least one of them will need a re-do as she is still hopping the fence at will. I blame my novice nerves--this being my first time clipping wings, I was a little shy with the scissors.

    In addition to removing their ability to hop the fence, I'm also removing some of their motivation. More than a dozen roosters--even roosters I have no intention of getting rid off--have gone into the bachelor pen where they can no longer harass the ladies. Already, I've noticed fewer hens scaling the fence to escape, even those who seemed to make a daily habit of it. In fact, only one hen who roosts in the coop continues to spend her day outside of the run--the rest of my rogues are full-blown ferals that roost in locations of their own discretion, which is one reason I haven't yet been able to wrangle them.

    [​IMG]
    Why they would even want to escape, with such beautiful greenery available inside the fence?

    On a sadder note, I must mark the passing of two of my named chickens. Winnie never reappeared after escaping the pen I tried to confine her and the other rogues in, and though I never did find signs of feathers, I know that she would have returned long ago if she were still alive. Winnie was very dear to my heart, being one of our smartest, and sweetest chickens. I knew the moment we brought her home that she and I were going to be close, even though as a chick, she was frightened of people. As she grew, she began to shine, revealing impressive intelligence and a calm, friendly nature. Though we are saddened by her loss, we can take comfort in knowing that she lives on in our flock through her many children and grandchildren.

    [​IMG]
    Winnie, a white plymouth rock hen, joined our flock in 2012 as a days-old chick.

    Our second casualty was Miroku, my silkie rooster. Miroku was a handsome fellow, but unfortunately far too pushy with the ladies, so I made the decision to move him to another pen with his fellow silkies to give the main flock a break. I originally considered putting him in the garden, but I had already lost a chicken to drowning there after it fell into the watering hole intended for the geese. Instead, I put Miroku and the other silkies into my outdoor classroom pen, where I assumed they'd be safer. Ironically, after going to such efforts to prevent him from drowning, Miroku somehow fell into a rain-collection bucket and drowned the next morning. In all the many months I have had chickens roaming in my outdoor classroom--and the chicken run at large--I have never had one drown in a bucket. The fact that it would happen at this moment, when I was striving to prevent a chicken from an accidental drowning, feels rather like a cruel joke.

    Lesson learned: I have fashioned wire covers to all of my rain-collection buckets to prevent future incidents. Fortunately, I have two juvenile silkie roosters who will be coming of age soon, but this now means I have nothing but white silkies--a fact which frustrates me immensely.

    [​IMG]
    Miroku was a black silkie, and the lone survivor of a fox attack that decimated the rest of his brood.

    [​IMG]


    Moving on to happier topics, the time is fast approaching for my chicken class to start up again, and I am in the process of preparing my outdoor classroom for students! Among other things, I have lined the cattle-panel fence that surrounds my classroom with chicken wire. This serves a dual purpose--it helps contain my chickens to comply with the city's request, and it puts my mind at ease about the inhabitants of the classroom, allowing me to put some of my more precious birds there. Among the new arrivals: my geese! I have five assorted geese, including three pilgrims, an African brown, and a Roman crested. We originally started with 9 goslings so we decided to go with a planetary theme, and while that didn't exactly work out the way we intended, we still stuck with astronomical names for our goose flock. Currently, Chickentown is home to Jupiter, Terra, Luna, Venus, and Uri (short for Uranus).

    [​IMG]
    Terra hasn't gotten the memo that geese are supposed to be herbivores! HEY! That's my leg!

    I'd originally intended to include the ducks in my classroom experience as well, but... they don't like me very much. I doubt they'd tolerate the chaos of rowdy children in their midst if they can't even handle being around me, so for the time being they will remain in general population. Besides, they seem so happy there that it'd be a terrible shame to remove them.

    [​IMG]
    "You want us to do what? Hah, no thanks."

    As for that "crop" of sunflowers, they are in full bloom now, and looking gorgeous. I experimented with trying to pull a few up/cut a few down the other day, and it's become clear that the only way I'm going to deforest my garden at this point is with a hatchet or chainsaw. Flowers they may be, but they have trunks fit to rival a small tree. I don't look forward to tackling this task when the time comes.
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    Our state flower, sunflowers are native to the Kansas prairie, but rarely proliferated to this extent in the wild due to the ravenous appetites of wild bison.

    That's all for today. Until next time!

    [​IMG]
    "Um, guys? Guys? Where did everybody go?"
     
  10. N F C

    N F C just 1 more cup pls Premium Member Project Manager

    41,904
    38,278
    1,246
    Dec 12, 2013
    Wyoming
    @PrairieChickens I'm so sorry about your losses. It never gets easier to lose them, they are all special in their own way.

    Thank you for another installment on the Chickentown stories, lovely photos! I had to laugh about the sunflowers. When I grew up in KS, I never planted them but now that I'm in FL, I love growing sunflowers! I hope you don't mind, here are a couple of mine from this year's garden:
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    The last photo with the moon, that flower grew over 10 feet tall.
     
    1 person likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by