Monday, October 22, 2007

The Great Chicken Round-up of 2007 (so far)

Previously, I wrote about our chickens. We are very fond of our chickens but lately they have started doing bad chicken stuff. It may just be a phase they are going through. Most of the roosters are "teenagers", so maybe they are just acting out. In reality, they are not really doing anything out of the ordinary in chickendom but some things were getting a little out of hand. Chickens on a rampage can be quite annoying.

For some reason, about a month ago, they decided to invade the big lettuce patch. I guess they thought we had put in a salad bar. Anyway, they decimated an entire row of lettuce in about 10 minutes. Chickens are real flockers, so when one hit the garden, the rest of them followed. In their defense, with the drought, there has been very little greens for them to eat this summer and chickens like to eat green stuff so as I said, they aren't doing anything unusual. They just chose a bad place for their foray.

After exhausting every idea we had--from moving one of the Jack Russell kennels to the edge of the lettuce patch (that didn't work because we have trained the JRTS not to bark or chase the chickens....the dog just sat there and watched the chickens run past her...Good Girl, Callie! Good Dog!) to patrolling the perimeter with a long stick of bamboo, looking for marauders and chasing them away (they just looked at me for a moment and went right back to eating).

Drastic events call for drastic measures and so we decided that we would rather put them in a pen than in the freezer. We spent an ENTIRE day rounding them up. As I mentioned in previous entries, they are almost like wild chickens and they are pretty darned smart. We set up a "chicken trap" by using one of the empty dog kennels and rigging up a way to pull the door closed from about 20 feet away while hiding behind a bush. We put bird a special bird netting over the top to keep them from flying out the top. Since I feed the chickens daily, I went inside the kennel and called them and threw out cracked corn like usual. They mostly came up to the wire and cocked their heads from side to side, looked curiously at me and then ran back over to the garden. I guess they figured I couldn't chase them if I was in the pen and Dave was nowhere to be seen (he was behind the bush, remember?) so the coast was clear.

Finally, we just went in the house and let everybody calm down. We eventually caught several of the young roosters, put them in another pen, inside the big pen and the flocking instinct of the birds won over. They never figured out that the other chickens were enclosed in a pen, so over several hours, we rustled them up a couple at a time.

There were two wily roosters and one little hen we were unable to catch and they are still patrolling the backyard, but they haven't been anywhere near the garden. Our chickenhouse and the big fenced area is way down back by the barn, so the free birds are hanging around there with the incarcerated birds, so I don't think we will have a problem with them.