The Stalwart Three

If there were chicken police, they would no doubt arrest me for stupidity or inattentiveness or something of the sort.  Fortunately, I don’t think the girls have tried reporting me yet.  I’ve do make every effort to keep them informed about my plans and good intentions for them, and I think they (except for Slutvana) are trying to understand.  As I often say, it’s hard to tell with chickens.

To recap recent traumas in the coop:  within the last month, we have “lost” both the Big Red Rooster and the Big Red Hen.  Their absences occurred about two weeks apart — first the rooster, then the hen.  Both, perhaps, due to wanderlust.

Though our garden is completely fenced, all the chickens we’ve ever had (since those first two roosters arrived unannounced in 2008 and stayed for a year or so) — all of them have found ways to get out and explore the world beyond.  Some squeeze through, some dig under, some fly over.  One way or another, chicken curiosity will out.  The expression really should be, “curiosity killed the chicken.”

So, now we are down to three hens, all good layers.  But, we also have a rat.  We’ve not yet met face-to-face, but he leaves his calling cards (many of them) in the food trough, which he (or maybe they) are sharing with the chickens.  The trouble is, I fear the chickens don’t discriminate between rat droppings and food pellets when they are eating.  It’s not that they gobble.  They simply peck-peck-peck.  Relentlessly.  And without appearing to look at their targets.

Obviously, the usual kinds of rat traps won’t work unless my intent is to maime a chicken.  So we got a special one — pet safe! — that is supposed to be fool proof.  Apparently our Mr. Rat is no fool.  So… in desperation, I closed the girls out of the coop yesterday and set up glue traps (in addition to the “fool proof” rat trap) in the coop.  Meanwhile, I’ve opened the broody pen at the end of the run so the girls have an alternate place to eat and sleep.

They, of course, are having no part of “alternate.”  They disappeared last night at bedtime and I held my breath until morning light.  Back they came, looking perky and asking for treats.  I’m working on an alternate kiss-and-lie-down plan for tonight’s sleeping arrangements.

It’s not easy being a chicken farmer — even a substitute one!

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