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So this is my life June 9, 2011

Posted by therealtinlizzy in chickens.

This morning finds me working from home while the Galactica Six graze in the backyard. Not sure if what chickens do is strictly “grazing”, but that’s certainly what it looks like to me.

The Chicken Relocation Program, to get the chickens transplanted from the basement to the yard, was completed in early April. This was certainly a welcome relief to my basement – which even by my dungeony dank basement’s dungeony dank standards got pretty macked up in the process of housing the chickens since late Dec. Granted I gave a good college try to keeping on top of clean-up – but once I started letting them have the run of the place (even with barriers/partitions to try and keep them contained) eventually they rather took over the basement. And in true out-of-sight/out-of-mind fashion, it has not yet fully fallen up my list of tasks to completely clean up after – since it’s the basement. I mean it’s not as bad as it could be, but it’s bad enough to have to schedule a good solid day to get on really cleaning up down there.

But that’s so last winter. Let’s return to chickens out in the open air now where they should be, emerging like the Dresden Dolls from their attic. Yes, I just went there. Actually it was my compadre Angie who first called them my Flowers in the Attic, not me. I just steal others’ material.

Since then they’d been happy chickens in their enclosed run/coop area – while I continued to feed them greens and veggies and such as their run area is just straw/dirt/leaves – no plants/greenery. One morning as I was bringing them a bundle of dandelion greens from the co-op, I looked around the yard and suddenly felt like an utter nitwit as I saw the acres (ok more like lot-ful) of dandelions carpeting my yard (and surrounding yards!). So I started grabbing fistfuls of dandelions (leaves, flowers and all) and gave them to the chickens – who devoured them probably at a rate of 5 lbs/day. Since then I’ve saved a hella lot on greens/vegs from the co-op ;).

A few weeks ago it occurred to me that I should give a go at letting the chickens just free roam in the yard. I’d originally been worried about Cooper’s hawks or other avian predators which will prey on chickens if given the chance, and had been pondering erecting golf netting around the yard to keep any flying predators at bay. I also wasn’t certain of their interest/tendency/ability to fly (other than knowing they can/do in short bursts) or jump the fence or how I would get them back in the run. I thought briefly about tying string to one leg on each of them, then scrubbed that as a nonsense idea (not to mention difficult to accomplish as one person with only 2 arms/2 hands).

Eventually I just said fuck it, and opened the run door. For a few seconds they just looked blankly at me with their inscrutable chicken expressions. Then they stood at the lip of the doorway (about 6 inches high) appearing to speculate how on earth to traverse it in order to get to the Outside. Finally one of them clamber-flapped over the lip, causing the others to scurry and tumble out after the first. They then set to scratching and nibbling and hunting and pecking their way across the yard.

There’s a big currently-purposeless folded-up heavy tarpish thing laying about in one part of the yard, and it occurred to me there might be some chicken-delectible bits of worms, bugs, etc beneath it. So I yanked the tarpy thing over a few feet and indeed there were all sorts of beetles and nightcrawlers and other crawlies that went a-scurrying upon which the chickens descended like they (the chickens) were made for the express purpose of gobbling them down. Which I guess they kind of were – thru auspices of both aeons of evolution and animal husbandry.

I sat in utter silly joy just watching Gaius, Six, Starbuck, Boomer, Roslin and Dualla go all chicken-party on fat chunky nightcrawlers (you’d be hella impressed to see them gulp those down at lightning speed!) and the burly black beetles (who are so legion and large that I can hear them rustling beneath/thru the dead leaves at night), as well as grass and dandelions and anything else they could peck into submission.

Since that initial tentative and oh-so-cautious foray of letting the chickens run amok in the yard (which resulted in no over-fence escapes or other unfortunate outcomes), I’ve given the yard over to them for a goodly portion of the day, at least the days I work from home – which presently are most days ending in ‘y’. 🙂 My yard is like a veritable wilderness for them, including an area so woodsy and overgrown with damn virulent Box Elder seedlings that I like to call them my Chickens of the Forest, after the fungus/mushroom varietal of the same name that actually (really) tastes like and has the texture of chicken.

And as far as herding them back to the coop at the end of the day, or when it’s the canines’ turn to have the yard awhile, all it takes is bringing some yummy thing out with me – raisins, grapes, melon, chicken feed, whatever – and calling out “Chickens, chickens, chickens!”, which prompts them to come a-runnin’ from whatever corner of the yard. And I mean running literally, which is actually quite awesome – chickens running like they’re crazy persons, including jumping, half-flying and leaping on/over piles of brush and chairs and my big wooden bench to get to whatever I’ve got.

As I’ve uttered amusedly more than a few times to my partner since the advent of the chickens – “So this is my life at the moment.” 🙂

I must get my camera working again to snap a few vids of the chicken antics. Especially Gaius’ ear-splitting crow. It’s epic.


1. Stefanie - June 9, 2011

Hooray for chickens! When will they start laying? Chickens are also supposed good for gardens, especially of the vegetable sort. They eat the bugs that eat the plants plus their scratching in the dirt (I’ve read) is good for the dirt, and their droppings make excellent fertilizer.

therealtinlizzy - June 9, 2011

A couple of them started laying end of April, now all 5 of them are laying most every day. Egads – that’s a rather epic feat when you think about it.

I actually had to ban them from the garden – I had the same notion that they would be awesome for anti-bugging and scratching up the dirt. However then they started eating the hell out of my romaine and brussel sprouts. So boo – I would like them to have run of the garden! 🙂

2. paraselenic - June 13, 2011

if you were to bribe me with beer, I would come and help clean up the basement. but there would have to be a lot of beer.

3. tin lizzy - June 14, 2011

Hey – that’s not a bad idea para. And not just beer. But food. and gold bullion maybe.

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