About 15 years ago, Rick and I became chicken farmers in a small way. Our initial purchase was 26 chicks comprised of White Leghorns and Plymouth Barred Rocks. These birds had been checked for gender and inoculated against deadly diseases.
Rick built a terrific coop for them that had about 8x10 square feet inside and a 22x30 flight cage outside. Supposedly, the chicks were all hens. Two weren’t, and we ended up finding them a home with a young couple who had always wanted to have a rooster’s crowing waking them up in the morning.
Because there were 26, I had named them all, A to Z. Unfortunately, Pancho and Zorro were victims of an escaped family pet and had a short free life at that new home. The other girls back home were happy peepers and gave us several years of great farm-fresh eggs. Then disaster struck: a four-pack of wild dogs somehow broke into the coop through the back door and killed all of the birds. There were body parts and feathers for acres, and one of the Plymouth Barred Rocks was discovered two miles away on the golf course.
Animal control was called because the dogs were still hanging around and seemed dangerous. When Willy responded, he set cages and caught two of the dogs. While hoisting one to lift up into the truck, the dog was still trying to bite Willy’s jugular! We really try to save animals, not send them to certain euthanasia, but in this case, there was not a doubt in anyone’s mind that these dogs were dangerous and roaming the countryside looking for trouble.
We got more baby chicks and included some new breeds that included brown, white and green egg-layers, and Rick built an even bigger coop and flight cage that was immediately nicknamed Rick’s Chicken Coop after a late friend’s restaurant. He also fortified the heck out of the coop, wrapping the whole thing that was constructed of chain link fencing with chicken wire, making sure to base the wire facing inward to foil the raccoons that constantly tried to get in.
We had a great time with this group except for the first rooster of the bunch, a mean little tyrant who when he got his spurs, kicked down everyone entering the coop. He had to go. One day he escaped, and my thoughts went in the direction of, “Well, as we’ve dealt with the hens who died from old age, we’ve recycled them to the hawks, fox, coyote and owls that roam our property. He’s mean enough to take any of them on.”
Unfortunately, he began taking to the tops of our trucks and the rooftops of the house and coop, and one day he dropped down on me just as I was taking the dogs (on leashes) for a walk. He managed to slide down my arms and make quite a bloody mess, with the dogs trying to get to him and me trying to get them back into the house. After getting them safely inside, the mad rooster was disposed of. That brought back a happy coop once again and we enjoyed a couple more years of chicken farming.
Early this year, something large, probably not canine but after talking to wildlife officers, neighbors and wildlife hunters, most likely a member of the cat family like a cougar, bobcat, lynx, panther, whatever breed you can think of, who had broken through a window that’s over four feet from the ground but near a pecan tree limb. Slaughter once again. Of about 40 birds, we now had 11. And feathers and body parts, too.
We’ve just plain old lost heart for the chicken farming stuff, and thankfully friend Greg Jubinsky, who grows produce naturally and raises hogs with wife Mil at Ragged Glory Farm in Havana (raggedglory1@ gmail.com), was willing to take my babies. I especially wanted my beautiful, big rooster, King, to have a happy retirement. This is one sweet, big rooster.
Friend Tracy Smith brought his chicken-catching skills to our sortie Sunday morning and within ten minutes, the exchange was made and our babies now have a great new home and plenty of crowing from King, protecting not only the chickens but now the hogs, too! And I get to visit whenever I want to.