In the last 12 years that my husband, "O Wise One" (OWO) and I have owned Hickery Holler we have always had chickens. Not only do we enjoy the fresh eggs and meat but they are a valuable part of our garden. They eat all the bruised, rotten or culled vegetables and in return provide us with manure for our compost piles and pest control at times when we let them have free run of the farm. Not to mention the entertainment value of watching when you throw them an overripe tomato. The ensuing tussle would make any pro football player proud. I have memories from my childhood of having to gather the eggs for my mother every afternoon. And there was always the stray hens that escaped to the barn and it was like Easter morning trying to find the eggs scattered through the hay bales. Daddy would go out at night occasionally and catch them while roosting, clip their wings, and throw them back in the chicken yard. Only to have a new batch get out in the following weeks and months. Lots of fun for an 8 year old. I always hated when they were broody and pecked at me!
Several years ago both OWO and I, both had a run of bad health and had several stays in the hospital. With the commute and being unable to care for them, we decided to donate our chickens to a local 4-Her and when our health improved we would just start with new chicks.
Early spring 2009 the local Ag Supply store had chick days. OWO was sent to the store with the purpose of acquiring new chicks. This is not always the most intelligent thing to do on my part, for OWO when you say you want a dozen chicks of course 100 would be better. He did good this time though coming home with only 13 Buff Orphinton chicks that looked like little yellow puffballs. Well my health still wasn't the greatest so we decided to put them in a large cardboard box and stash them in the guest bathroom till they got a little bigger and my health improved enough to make daily treks to the brooder out by the chicken yard. Time passed, my health improved and the chicks started flying out of the box so we knew it was time for the chicks to fly the nest literally. OWO hung the heat light and set up the brooder with a feeder and water dish and we moved the girls to their new home. Things went well till 2 nights later we had visitors to the chicken brooder.
The next morning OWO came in with the news that he had to destroy five of the chicks, that something had gotten under the cage and chewed off their feet. This was despite the chicken wire he had wrapped around the bottom of the cage to prevent that . The other 8 chicks were missing toes and so he was moving them to a rabbit brooder on the back porch outside our bedroom window. There we could hear if anything got into the brooder and give them a chance to heal. I found medicine to put on their little feet, where the toes had been chewed. Only one chick had all her little toes. The others were all missing little random toes here and there. I felt so bad for the poor little girls and boiled them a couple eggs for a few days and mashed and put in there for extra protein. For the next 3 nights OWO set live traps and caught possums under the original cage every night. We assumed that or coons were the toe chewers we were looking for. Well the Girls have grown to adulthood now and OWO calls them my house chickens because they tend to like to stay in the chicken house, alot. Of course he attributes this to my raising them in the bathroom, what else. He tells people they are my " House Chickens". They get along just fine with random missing toes and only have problems with balance when it gets a little windy. Lol
They keep us in large brown eggs for which we keep them in all the feed and treats they can eat. All is content on the farm and with the " Girls ". Our goal for this year is a rooster for the girls and maybe a few chicks in return.
Blessings from Hickery Holler
The Canned Quilter