Saturday, May 15, 2010

The chickens, part two.

In the last post, I miss-wrote what actually occurred after the Tragic Raccoon Attack. The chicken-lady called us to come pick up part of our chicken order, not the entire 20+ chickens. We needed to pick up the older contingent of our chicks (she could still keep the smaller ones in her garage, safe from raccoons.) So BJ and I hopped in the car, drove north to Del Mar to claim our chicks.

In our excitement, we forgot anything to actually put the chickens in, so we just stuffed them in our car. No, that's not true. She lent us a cage, and I think we put the rest in a box or something. Then we drove home with our 8 chickens... which, out of the whole 25 or so, wasn't so bad to think about housing. The main problem was that we lived in a small apartment with a "backyard" that we shared with 4 of our neighbors, definitely not the legal 30 feet away from any other houses.

But, luckily our neighbors were pretty mellow. They let us construct a makeshift chicken coop in our shared space. This consisted of laying our outside table on it's side, wrapping plastic mesh around our four post pergola thing, thus creating a 4x4 run. For the actual hen-house (where they slept), we grabbed a big moving box, flipped it upside down, and cut out a door.

The chickens seemed to like their first home. They got busy scratching around, and doing other chicken activities... like pooping everywhere. When we put them in the coop, we  watch with curiosity as most of them seemed to do a strange dance with each other... puffing out their neck feathers and doing what could only be described as a little chicken duel. We thought that was weird, but dismissed it as the girls figuring out their pecking order.

At first I was worried about something eating our chickens, as the whole coop was definitely not predator-proof. But then a much louder concern presented itself. About a week or so after we moved the chickens into their temporary home, we started to hear a strange noise coming from their coop (which happened to be right outside our bedroom window). The noise was somewhere in between a cat's meow and a gargle. We realized that we had a rooster in our midst, and he was learning to crow.

These beginning attempts weren't that problematic, as they were pretty quiet, and we could shut him up by quickly running outside and throwing some feed in the coop. But after awhile, he developed his full crow, and BJ and I would awake with dread to the racket, try to run outside and subdue him before he woke all our neighbors and they called the cops. This morning ritual caused much anxiety for us.

This rooster could not stay in our backyard. I posted him on craigslist for $15, and some nice young man came and bought him. Whether he became someone's meal, only God knows. When we got rid of him, I had my first peaceful morning sleep-in. It was glorious.

Not two days later, we awoke again to crows from the backyard.

"What the..." we groggily complained.Quickly, we ran out to the coop to see what was going on.

We looked at each other nervously, "How many roosters are in there?"

Over the next few weeks, we came to find out that all but ONE of our "girls" were actually boys, and each time we would get rid of one of them, another would start to crow.

Craigslist found homes for about half of them (one time I was in such a rush, I had to leave a rooster in a box on my front step for the person that was going to pick him up), but in the end, we had too many roosters to dispose of. And, we had paid for these birds after all. Might as well get something for our money.

We decided together that they would make some good roast chicken. It was harvest time.

Bravely, the ex-vegan among the four of us was the first to volunteer to slaughter a chicken, so I'll let her describe that in her own words.

Overall, I would not recommend chickens if you live in an apartment in one of the densest parts of your city. It just doesn't make for good sleep. What you really need is a farm...

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