A few days ago I wrote about how to raise baby chicks and keep them alive... even if my first attempt only kept my chicks alive long enough to feed the neighborhood cats. Here's where I went from that disaster.
I decided that since it was August, I didn't want to start over with baby chicks. I didn't want to risk young chicks against a potentially cold fall. I went back to may Urban Farm Store with my head held low and mumbled out my sad story. Luckily, they took pity on me and led me into the back where they had pullets (aka teenage chickens) ready to head outside. This is where the Stockholm Syndrome becomes important.
Me: Yay! I'm taking home new chickens and they will instantly follow me around the yard like the last ones would. They will chirp happily when I come near looking for a treat.
New Chickens: What the F#*K?!!! Who the hell shoved us in this cardboard box?! I was just finishing dinner and now I'm getting shoved around and it feels like we're moving. What does the giant want from us? SQUAWK!
I still needed to win them over to my side. They needed to be convinced that their captor was good instead of an evil giant. But I didn't realize that right away....
When we got home, I was all ready to put my chickens out into the coop I already had owned (aka the sight of the vanishing chickens the week before). At this point, I still thought my chicken's had been stolen instead of crawling through the badly designed wire fence. Who knew they could squeeze themselves into such a small space?
Within 3 minutes of the ladies being in their new home, they popped right through the fence as I was getting them fresh water for the night. Imagine my surprise when I came back to missing chickens AGAIN!!
Me: This is simple. I'll just herd them back over to the coop like my last chicks.
Them: WE'RE BUSTING OUT!! NOW!!! GRAB YOUR TAIL-FEATHERS AND HEAD FOR THE HILLS!
It turns out that the particular corner of fence the birds headed for was perfectly suited for human frustration. They could slip under the fence at that corner and access two neighboring yards with enough landscaping to hide them. I would hop into the neighboring yard and shoo them back into our yard only to have them sneak under the fence to the other neighbor before I could come back around the fence. My husband would run to the other yard and they would go back to the first one. You know what that made us look like....?
What the hell?? When did I become a stormtrooper instead of Princess Leia? Anyhow...
I got up on a 6" ladder with a long paint roller to try and shoo them into my yard when I saw the neighborhood cats starting to close in. We have about five different loose cats in the area and they all knew where their last lunch treat had come from. (Cue the music from Jaws)
Honestly, I almost gave up, brought out a table and some wine, and asked the cats if they wanted spaghetti to go with my birds for that nights special menu.
To this day I don't know exactly how we got the ladies back in their coop but as you can see...
they are all doing just fine now.
So how exactly do you bribe a chicken to listen to you. Worms, bugs, and grapes. And in that order.
I went to the bait shop and bought a few cartons of worms from a confused looking clerk when I didn't need a fishing permit. I kept a mason jar near me when I did my gardening for the next week and threw in all slugs, slimy things, and creatures with more legs that me. And I fed them grapes one at a time. If you've never seen the crazy fun that chickens have when they have worm or grape races, you are missing out.
After the bribery, they now keep an eye out for me and squawk for treats. They also know that the blue bucket next to their coop means chicken scratch. If I tap on the blue bucket, the come filing back into the coop.
So those are the lessons for Chickens 201.
- Make sure you use hardware cloth or chicken wire for your chicken run. (We are building a bigger coop soon with hardware cloth instead of what you see in the pictures.)
- Worms make a great bribe in winning over their trust.
This post is linked up over at the Homestead Barn Hop and over at Punk Domestics!