Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Girls Have Arrived!

But first, let me address the names of the cows. I've had some guesses and so far, Kathy is the closest to being right. Somehow that doesn't surprise me. She suggested it was "Choice Grade Beef". I was thinking of naming them "Hamburger and Steak", as Rae suggested, but that was too in-your-face for my taste. Then I thought about "Choice" and "Grade A". Still a little harsh. That's when "Joyce" and "Grady" came to me. I'll always remember their ultimate purpose while also being able to refer to them specifically over the next couple years.

So anyone who knows me knows I love love love LOVE chickens. I've missed having my own flock. I've enjoyed Val's free-ranging birds whenever I'm over there. And as of this afternoon, we now have chickens again. We weren't entirely ready for them but there was a "Chicken Yard Sale" today in Pierpont, OH, and we went. There are eight 9-month old hens and one rooster. He's huge and impressive.

We had a hunch we might find some we liked so we took cardboard boxes with us to transport them home. Being a warm day, though, we wanted to get them out of the boxes right away. That's where the dog kennel came in. We turned the boxes on their sides and let the chickens into the kennel.

That's when I discovered that they were already working at earning their keep. Someone had laid an egg on the way home. It was pretty funny and we had a good laugh and a bit of amazement over that.

Kent pulled out some of our fencing and made a temporary yard enclosure for them. They will eventually be free-ranging but you first have to get the acclimated to their new surroundings and base of operations. Things were going smoothly. We'd pull them, one by one, from the kennel and then gently lob them into their bigger enclosure. When we were down to two, the rooster and a pretty little hen, the trouble started. I caught the rooster and the hen at the same time, one in each hand. I couldn't lift them both that way so I let her go and carried the rooster to the enclosure. I turned around to see her darting out of the kennel and into the yard.

Kent and I tried to close her in between us and make a grab for her but she was tooooo quick. She headed for the undergrowth and I knew we were in real trouble. The woods along our house are thick with undergrowth of weeds, flowers, vines, blackberry brambles and other things that sometimes make it impossible to get through. That was the case with this girl. She was too fast and too easily slipped in through brambles for us to follow. I worried that we might have lost her for good. I don't know what all hunts in our woods at night but I didn't think she'd have much of a chance alone in the dark out there.

After much crashing through brush, imitating clucking noises and tossing of scratch, we gave up and headed in for some lunch and to come up with a better plan. In the meantime, I left a box on its side near the enclosure and Kent set a "chicken trap" using the kennel, some rope and some scratch.

Sure enough, after lunch we looked out the window to see her trying to figure out how to get into the fence with the rest of the chickens. With a combination of patience and creeping about, we were able to catch her and reunite her with the small flock. What a relief!

Now we'll be very busy building a chicken tractor, version 7.2.

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