Chickens from Scratch (part 3)

To follow our chicken journey, here are part 1 and part 2.

I haven’t updated on the chickens lately. My chicken raising has had some heartbreaking setbacks. But I guess this is the life of farming and homesteading. First, our Jack Russell dug out of our fence and squeezed her way into the chicken coop. My son arrived right after she got in, but it was too late. She had already wounded one chicken and killed another (actually, she wasn’t completely dead, so my husband had to finish the job–I think this is the hardest part of owning animals). The worst part of it was that our six year old was there when it happened and came running into the house screaming that the dog was killing her chickens.

She recovered from the incident. We brought our chickens with us to Texas. The five that were left fit nicely in a large pet carrier and rode all the way from Kansas in the back of the van. We stop to give them some water and left over buns from our burgers. I think they enjoyed the air conditioning cause they didn’t make a peep the entire trip.

Once we got here, my husband set up their coop. There are lots of critters here, so he made sure to put a ply board under it so that nothing could dig into the coop at night. He took our dogs back to Kansas with him, so I haven’t been quite as worried about them. During the day, I have been letting them loose in the corral (it is fenced in), then at night I cage them up.

We have only been here a little over a week. Two days ago we went to town to buy groceries. When we returned, I noticed something was in the road in front of our house. When we drove closer, I realized it was a dead chicken. I left the kids in the van and walked out to the corral. The gate had been pushed open and there were feathers everywhere. Three of our chickens were torn to pieces. It just made me sick. The neighbors dog had gotten them. She came over and offered to pay for them. I tried to be friendly, after all, we just moved here and I didn’t want to start things off badly. I just kept thinking, though, how much more our chickens mean to us than the few dollars we paid for them three months ago.

So, we are down to two chickens, I *think* a hen and a rooster. I am debating our next homesteading move. I thought about buying some grown layers from a nearby farm, but I really want ours to be gentle. I had read that the more you handle them the more gentle they become. Ours were definitely friendly fellers. If I bought some from another flock I don’t know if they would be as used to people, especially kids.

We may be back at square one. If so, I think I will mail order some chicks next time. If I do that I am also going to order some guineas. I read that they are good at keeping the fire ants at bay (as well as ticks).

Here are some pictures of our “coop”. We had an old playhouse that we set up on a frame. We bolted a Rubbermaid tub to one of the windows. We covered all doors and windows with wire netting (using screws and fender washers to hold it down).

Will keep you posted when we decide where to go from here…

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