Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Great Chicken Round-up

The new header photo was taken during the great chicken chase of 2009. Louis the 7th and two of his ladies are standing underneath the boxwood hedge in our backyard. Here's the tale of how they almost became Hawk's Surprise Dinner one day.

December was an unusually wet month. We had inches and inches of rain. Our chicken house sits in a low spot on our property and a small lake had accumulated in their yard. Even the inside of their house was wet and sloppy.

I had the brilliant idea of turning them out of their pen into our yard proper where winter weeds and grasses flourished in abundance. And after coaxing them out through the door they were quite happy scratching and clucking through the grasses. I'm sure the soft grass felt better than mud squishing through their toes. Do chickens have toes? Claws? I don't know.

We go back inside the house and go about our business with the occasional look out the window to make sure the cats aren't bothering the hens. All seemed well for a few hours until Darcie goes out to check on them. I hear her scream, "Mama, Mama! Come quick!"

I rush out of the house to find her starring up into the maple tree that sits directly behind her playhouse. There's a small hawk up there with its eyes trained on one of my hens. We try shooing and screaming, but it's not moving. It wants that chicken. It was so close. It probably had feathers in its sharp, pointy little beak.

Darcie said that when she came out into the yard the hawk had the chicken pinned down on the ground. She made it fly away, but it wasn't going any farther away than about eight feet. I can't believe it didn't kill or hurt the chicken. They're such frail creatures anyway.

After about ten minutes of us jumping up and down and throwing sticks, it finally flew away. I think what really made it lose heart was my picking up the chicken and putting it back in its house. Without a quarry it probably just got tired of our antics and had seen enough.

So with everything back to normal, I resumed my usual tasks only to have a repeat performance an hour later. Only this time it's a bigger red-tailed hawk.

I had stationed Darcie in the backyard as lookout in case the first hawk came back. Once again I heard her screaming, "Mama, it's a huge bird! Hurry! It's got another chicken!"

Good grief! Whose dumb idea was it to let the chickens run loose anyway? I ran out in time to see the red-tail float away into a nearby pecan tree. Unbelievably, this chicken wasn't hurt either, and I'd had enough excitement for one day. Little did I know it was only beginning.

Trying to corral five chickens and a cranky rooster is about like trying to stop the rippling in a pond after throwing a rock through the surface; they just keep on spreadin'. It took us about two hours of synchronized effort using a leaf rake, baseball bat, and fish net to FINALLY get them all rounded up and into their house.

So from now on when I want them to eat fresh green grass, I'm pulling it up by the handfuls and throwing it over their fence!


Beverly said...

Thank you for visiting my blog. I added myself as one of your followers, and I hope you will follow my blog, too.

Your header is great! Thank goodness your chickens were not harmed.

Jeannette said...

You need a chicken tractor. They can be moved around and your chickens can get at fresh pecking places while being protected. You can also control the chickens. You could have them weed right next to, but not in some new seedlings, for example. If you "google" "chicken tractor" you should be able to a variety of designs from delux to super simple. Pretty chickens you got there.

laurel said...

Ha!! This gave me a chuckle. I like the new header :)

Pom Pom said...

Hi Debbie! I wish you had a video of you guys chasing the chickens around. I bet you gave the hawk a chuckle.

GretchenJoanna said...

hmmm...not such an easy thing, keeping chickens. Yours are beautiful, and I'm so glad they are still with you.

Pom Pom said...

Hi Debbie! It's me again. You should write a story about your chickens - a modern Little Red Hen. Don't forget the pictures. Have a happy week, friend.

Debbie said...

I am utterly delighted by this little story!

Left-Handed Housewife said...

I love your chicken header and your chicken story. Watch out for them hawks--we have one circling our neighborhood right now. He's a grand thing, but I fear he'll carry away the dog.