Tales From Chickentown

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

  1. PrairieChickens

    PrairieChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    lol our tallest is somewhere around 15 feet. We can't measure them easily for obvious reasons, but it's up there for sure. Normally they topple from their own weight by early August, but they've been exceptionally robust this year.
     
  2. N F C

    N F C dem crazy bones Premium Member

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    I know what you mean...we had to stake our tallest ones. Some of the sunflowers we planted this year came in a packet of seed from a KS Welcome Center. We drove from here in FL out to CO, stopping to see one of my sons in NE KS. I think KS has some of the nicest roadside stops and the Welcome Center was super...lots of cool things to see, hot coffee and free sunflower seeds.

    I'll be watching for more Chickentown stories!
     
  3. Outpost JWB

    Outpost JWB Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nice stories @PrairieChickens . Thanks for sharing.

    Love the sunflower @NorthFLChick ! Beautiful! [​IMG]
     
  4. PrairieChickens

    PrairieChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It's another fine day here in Chickentown! Terra the goose is petitioning to have her community's name changed to Goosington. I don't think she's going to get a lot of traction there.
    [​IMG]
    "I'm not saying Chickentown is a bad name, just that it doesn't reflect the diverse population that lives here."

    It's been an interesting few days here in Chickentown. For starters, let's begin with the turkeys and how they lead to the final showdown with The Skunk.

    I have had the worst luck with turkeys. Honestly, I hadn't intended to get into raising them at all, but fell in love after briefly owning a pair of broad breasted poults that I'd bought at the local farm store. Turkeys, for all that they are reputed to be unintelligent, are some of the most affectionate, inquisitive creatures you will ever meet, and when my original two turkey babies fell prey to predators, I decided I wanted to try again. I bought hatching eggs on eBay, and successfully hatched out three more turkey poults. Alas, one failed to thrive, leaving me with two, and while it looked for a while like I might succeed at raising these two to adulthood, they disappeared mysteriously from their run. I still don't know if they were grabbed by predators or simply escaped and wandered away. With turkeys, either scenario seems equally likely.

    At that point, I was so frustrated that I was ready to give up on turkeys, but my husband wasn't. As an anniversary gift, he bought me ten assorted heritage-breed turkeys from Meyer hatchery (we went in on the order with other people to meet the 20 poult minimum.) We had a few casualties early on as is to be expected with a large brood of chicks of any variety, but keeping them locked in a secure brooder seemed to be working at keeping losses to a minimum. Until the other day, that is... I went to tend to the turkeys and noticed that two of them--both black spanish poults--had developed badly twisted legs and could barely walk. Since I didn't know the cause, I figured the best idea would be to move them to a new, larger pen with completely fresh bedding and increase their protein intake. I retrofitted a small coop that normally houses my breeding leghorns (sorry guys, but you're going to have to sleep under the stars for a few nights), and moved the turkeys in. They seemed to like their new digs, and I went to bed that night confident that they would be safe--locked inside of a coop that was in turn, inside of a fenced yard. It was like the movie Inception, but with chicken runs instead of disjointed dreams.

    Around 12:30 that night, I woke up and thought, "perhaps I should check on the turkeys". After all, this was their first night without a heat lamp, and I worried they might be chilled. I put on my shoes, grabbed a flashlight, and headed outside. The worst I figured I'd find was a few chilly chickies, which I would be able to quickly remedy. I had no idea what lay in store for me.

    The first thing I noticed was a possum. It was slightly alarming, since I hadn't expected to see one inside of the fence, but he wasn't doing any harm. He'd found a pile of spilled pecans and was contentedly snacking on that before I so rudely interrupted him. He darted off and disappeared, and I continued on to check on the turkeys.

    That's when I saw it. The Skunk.

    Let me fill you in on The Skunk. The Skunk is not to be confused with an ordinary, run-of-the-mill skunk. It's not a cute-if-somewhat-malodorous backyard critter that raids the catfood dish and occasionally makes the yard smell like rancid burnt popcorn--it's a malicious, vile, horrendous beast that has done everything in its power over the past several months to make my life a living hell. It is not A Skunk--it is THE Skunk, and it has become the bane of our existence here in Chickentown. Since spring, it has devoured countless eggs, raided my broodies' nests and eaten their developing eggs right out from under them, and killed and eaten almost every chick that we purchased/hatched out, including all of my new silkies, my naked necks, and most of my home-grown hatchlings. It even ate an 8-week-old cockerel that should have been big enough to fight it off, leaving a gruesome crime scene for me to find the next morning. In addition to the remains of its victims, the culprit left behind its smell, having sprayed the poor broody hens who had tried to fight it off in defense of their offspring. Despite our efforts, we were unable to trap it, The Skunk simply reaching through the side of the trap to steal the bait, or ignoring it altogether, continuing to mercilessly raid my nests and devour my chicks whenever there were such to raid and devour.

    [​IMG]
    What we have here is an ordinary skunk, courtesy of Wikipedia.

    As my flashlight's beam fell on The Skunk, I immediately saw the tiny spray of itty-bitty white feathers, and what little was left of one of my turkey poults in front of it. The Skunk turned and ran, squeezing under the fence and escaping me. Somehow, I think that it knew I was ready to kill it, completely unconcerned with getting sprayed, and it wisely fled the scene before I could make good on my intentions. I returned to the coop, and soon saw how it had accessed the chicks. It had managed to tunnel a tiny hole under the side of the coop, squeeze in, and grab one of my precious babies. It had never tunneled into a coop before, so I had assumed my chicks would be safe. I'd never imagined that The Skunk would be so tenacious as this.

    Broken-hearted, I gathered up my remaining poults and brought them inside. I still didn't want to put them in their old brooder, so I set them up on the sunporch with food and water, understanding that this meant I would be scraping bird poop off the concrete floor for weeks to come. A small price to pay if it meant saving my birds from annihilation. With my work day starting in just a few short hours, I left a note for my husband to read when he got home from work, and went back to bed.

    At four AM I woke up to get ready for work, and my husband greeted me.

    "I saw The Skunk," he said. "It was in the main chicken run when I got home." Still in my pajamas, I put on my shoes, grabbed a flashlight, and he and I marched out into the main run in search of The Skunk. We had little idea of what we were going to do after we found it--I carried a stick, and my husband had in his hand a mace. Not the pepper spray mace--an actual spiked mace made out of metal and suffering.

    [​IMG]
    The reasons why we own such an item is another story entirely.

    "What are you going to do with that?" I asked.

    "I'm gonna kill The Skunk!" he said.

    It was at this point I realized we needed a plan, because bashing a skunk with a spiked mace is just a terrible idea for so many reasons. I spotted the large fishing net propped up against the shed and grabbed it. The search resumed, my husband still convinced he was going to get medieval on The Skunk, and I still trying to talk him out of such a terrible idea. My husband circled around the pen, looking for the skunk, and I headed for the coop itself, lead by the sinking suspicion that the skunk's target was a broody hen and her chicks currently residing there.

    Sure enough, there it was, trying to reach the last chick belonging to a very angry broody. As I entered, The Skunk fled out the pop door, and I dashed out of the coop with my net in hand, shouting to my husband as I went. As I rounded the coop, The Skunk ran back through the pop door, and I told my husband to flush it out of the coop while I waited with the net. He went in, The Skunk came out, and I snagged it--unfortunately, not before The Skunk managed to land a lucky shot and sprayed me. With nothing left to lose, I held onto the net, and we dumped the marauding varmint into the first dog crate we could reach. After that, there was nothing left for me to do except try to wash as much of the stink as possible fore heading to work. To say the least, it made for a long day, but I was never so happy to smell so bad.

    Later that day, my dad arrived with his pickup truck, and we loaded up The Skunk and headed way, way, WAY out into the country. Despite my murderous intent before, I had no specific desire to make the animal suffer, so we released it by a creek next to the county landfill. My dad and I both figured that would be the best chance it had at finding a new life after being relocated.

    While it is certainly possible that there is more than one skunk around, we are optimistic that The Skunk was the only skunk causing problems in Chickentown. Since we caught the marauder, we haven't accounted for any more missing chicks or any more eaten eggs--since the raids were a nightly occurrence before, that is cause for optimism. As a plus, I have mostly purged myself of the skunk stink, though the odor still lingers on some of my belongings.

    [​IMG]
    This broody sadly lost all but one of her chicks to The Skunk. The white one was the last casualty before we caught the offending varmint.

    Much more is happening, but I will leave you with this for now. I expect to update again tomorrow with more adventures.
     
  5. Outpost JWB

    Outpost JWB Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG] so sorry for the loss of the chicks.
     
  6. N F C

    N F C dem crazy bones Premium Member

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    What a story! What a nasty predator! I'm sorry for your losses.
     
  7. scratch'n'peck

    scratch'n'peck Overrun With Chickens

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    That was a harrowing story! I'm glad you caught the skunk, but I am so sorry for the losses.
     
  8. PrairieChickens

    PrairieChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sorry I hadn't updated yet. Ragweed is in bloom and my allergies have had me knocked out for the past several days. I just wanted to pop in and share something wonderful with you all before I call it a night.

    As you may recall, my silkie rooster Miroku drowned recently. Well, at the time he died, I had just put several eggs into the incubator, including three bright blue ameraucana eggs. I had recently closed up my ameraucana hens with their new purebred roo, and while I knew the odds weren't good that their eggs would be "pure" yet, I still wanted to see what I got. Of the three ameraucana eggs, only one developed. Today,it hatched... with five toes. That's right. Miroku is a daddy! He may be gone, but with a little luck he will live on in this ameraucana/silkie cross.

    Pictures to come later.
     
  9. sunny & the 5 egg layers

    sunny & the 5 egg layers Overrun With Chickens

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    :weee What wonderful news!
     
  10. N F C

    N F C dem crazy bones Premium Member

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    @PrairieChickens that is good news! Congratulations on getting that little 5-toed chick! [​IMG]

    Hope you're feeling better soon, allergies are no fun.
     

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