Chickens, at their best, can be a joy. OTOH...
Can you find the 4th hiding hen?

Or: Why the Chickens Cross the Road

Finally I get to say it for the final time: I told you so.

When she first insisted WE would have chickens, she also insisted they would live across the creek and we would build the chicken pen onto the side of the barn.

I suggested that might not be a good place since all the rain and snow from the barn roof would bugger up the enclosure. But we used some left-over chain-link fence from the dog pen out back, and it has lasted for some years. Until this week.

IMG_2111chickenhouse300Sunday this massive snow finally did some serious buggering. The chain link fence was crushed under many hundred pounds of wet snow that had piled deep on the roof and finally let go–as you see not so well in this picture. The fencing and support rails are sufficiently damaged that we will not rebuild it;  the birds meanwhile will not have a barrier to keep them out of the mouths of local wildlife.

Yesterday, in deep slushy snow, we managed to stuff the two birds into a wire cage and take them to our neighbor, who was glad to have them and has an excellent henhouse, empty of laying hens since a weasel visited a few months back.

Do you know how fine a wire you have to put up to keep a weasel from having chicken for dinner!? Their bodies are long slinkies with a mouth full of teeth at one end. (You might take a brief look at this Wikipedia image for a comparison between the rabbit (the food) and white phase least weasel (the feeder.)

Come spring, I will lobby for no birds at all, and she (who for reasons I cannot explain to you seems in such matters to hold at least 51 of the corporate stock here) will insist we WILL TOO have them but will agree to make a place for them on this side of the road next to the garden shed.

I know when I’m licked, so if we must have them, I like the idea that we can make a door into the garden space from their pen, and early and late in the gardening year, turn them in to take care of insects and weed seeds.

OTOH, I suppose we might as well let the weasels know when we’re in business, because the hawks, foxes, coyotes, black snakes and wandering dogs are already wondering when dinner is served.

More Chicken Lore at Fragments:     Tastes Like Chicken     Wild Kingdom Come       Do Chickens Breathe Through Their Butts

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Published by fred

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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2 Comments

  1. Fred, don’t you know all wives hold 51% of the union? If not more, lol. I hope your chickens last longer than you seem to think they will. Handsome creatures.

  2. I did see the fourth chicken, both the tip of his red comb, and the fourth pair of legs!
    I was amazed at the info in the link to how chickens breathe. I missed that entry in 2010. My Zoology minor in college was remiss in not teaching that, or maybe in 1963 it wasn’t understood yet!

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