Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Great Chicken Escape

Early this morning, before I'd even had a chance to make some coffee, Paul looked out the window and said, "There's a chicken in our neighbor's yard!" Actually, all six of the new chickens were in the neighbor's yard. It was very windy yesterday and last night, and the greenhouse plastic had been ripped loose from the chicken house roof. Those pullets always perch up near the top of the house, so they were able to just sidle on out into freedom.

To get them back in, first we had to deal with the Reds. The new chickens are skittish enough that they would not go in the door if a person was standing there, but if we stood back the other hens would hop out as well. One piece of plywood later, and all the red hens were crowded into a corner away from the door.

Luckily, my experience working at a dairy had taught me how to herd animals. Chickens are more difficult than cattle, but still easier than goats. I placed Paul strategically to prevent them from breaking for the street, and then carefully worked the chickens closer to the open door of their house. They milled about just outside of it, but a little more pressure got five of them to hop in. The sixth decided to make a run for it.

Several circles of the yard later, I was about ready to give up and go make myself a chicken catcher. However, Paul wanted to try one more time, and he managed to trap her against one side of the house. I snagged her as she tried to dive past and tossed her in. The plastic sheeting has been reattached and battened down, so hopefully there won't be a repeat. When it's time to replace the plastic, I think I'll extend the chicken wire up the roof first to prevent escapes.

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