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Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Chicken Story

This was originally my Facebook status

Last night Eugene comes in and says "you have to help me get the chickens in". So I went out to help and found the chickens in a pile where their chicken tractors (moveable coop and their homes) had been that afternoon before we moved them to the opposite and far less poopy side of their pasture.

They are young and thus not very wise and like all chickens creatures of habit. So when the sun went down and the tractors where not where they should be the chickens got all nervous. Eugene said he saw them milling around acting strangely while he dug parsnips-they must have been wondering where their shelters were and upon not finding them decided to get under a glass tent we have out there for them for a day time rain shelter in a big pile. So he tried getting them to walk over to the tractors by moving the glass shelter (we use these for cold frames when we are not raising meat birds and they are light and quite portable). the pile did move about 15 meters and than started scattering and finally moved the opposite directing and ended up in a pile in the footprint of where one of the tractors had been and that's when I came in.

The solution right than and there was to pick the birds up 1 or 2 at a time (they are a few days from processing so the average weight of these 7.5 week old beauties is about 8 pounds-they are big birds) and that's what we did in the failing light. the first 40 or so were easy, just had to scoop them up carry them 30 meters and than place them in the doorway of one of the 3 tractors. But the last 8 were not amenable to this and decided to freak out and slowly run around in the dark (chickens have virtually no night vision, BTW). we got the last 5 in with only a bit of trouble, but the last bird did not want to be picked up and thus played cat and mouse with us using the glass cold frame as a foil. But with masterful cold frame manipulation Eugene was able to pin her down, pick her up and place her in a shelter for the night.

Moral of this story is if you move the bird's shelter more than 10 meters you have to either move all their feeders and day shelters with the tractors at the same time or go through this sort of thing (and maybe even if we had moved all their paraphernalia they still would have pulled this crap).