Author Topic: Chicken Story  (Read 442 times)

Mike Gilbert

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Chicken Story
« on: October 12, 2023, 01:43:15 PM »
This email came from a local 4-H family today, one that had received free chicks from my stock in January to show at the county fair.   She sent it to my friend and former APA director, Jim Laatsch, as he is the county poultry project leader now.   I have left off the names to respect the family's privacy.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Hi Jim,
Hope you are well.  Fun story for you, and a favor to ask…

Exactly a week after we brought out chickens home from the fair, we dropped Addy (middle kid, older of my two that showed) off at Sugar Creek for camp.  Came home, wandered out to the chicken yard, and one of the bantam americaunas was missing.  Just missing.  No feathers, no carcass, and only her.  At first I blamed the dog, then a hawk, then other predators, but none of it made sense.  She never escaped the yard, unlike some of our other hens who preferred to roam free, and there was nothing left behind.  All of us searched, we sent the dog searching the open field and tree line behind our property… nothing.

The sun rose and set enough times that I was fully convinced she was gone.  I figured if she got chased out, she might come back.  But after a day or two, the odds were not in her favor.  I was quite heartbroken… she was a very sweet chicken, and one of our favorites.  Some of the hens are just chickens, others are beloved pets.  This one was a beloved pet.  Silly, I know.

Short story long, about three days later, our bird dog was out for his morning run and locked up HARD on one rounded corner of our chicken yard (we have a tiny coop inside a predator proof run, and then temporary fencing outside to give them more space to roam and snack during the day).  When Ty called the dog off point, he “hit” the fence, which induced a flurry of cackling.  This was unexpected, because all of the chickens were still locked up in the run.  Sure enough, after Ty put the dog in the house, let the chickens out of the run, and threw some snacks out as bait, the missing chicken was there!  Snacking happily away on blueberries.

I had to leave early that day, but when I came back mid-morning, I went on an egg hunt.  Ty had told me where the dog locked up, but I still couldn’t find her until I’d taken a few passes through the thorns, nettles and grass before I could find her.  Even when I had eyes on her, I would lose her when I’d weave my way through the underbrush.  She was WELL HIDDEN.

I didn’t t want to disrupt her more than I had to, so I came up with a plan first, once I knew she was okay.  Borrowed a brooder tank from a friend, set it up in our garage, and and waited for my kids to all be home.  At this point I was thinking she’d have between 0 and 4 eggs, just thought it would be a good experiment.  Lifted up the back of her, and…. 13 EGGS!!!!  Keep in mind she had only been home from the fair for about 10 days.  And that would have been a long and complicated route for her to steal eggs.  We were still getting blue eggs in the coop, too, so our other americauna wasn’t exactly contributing.  I still don’t understand….

We are indeed overzealous people, so we added the three fresh eggs from the coop on the off chance they might be fertilized (one was blue).  She was such a good mama… sat diligently on the eggs, rotated them around, did all of her mama chicken things.  However.  I was wringing my hands a bit, because we were scheduled to leave on vacation on the earliest possible hatch day.  (I almost actually used this as a reason to not go!).  We left on vacation, and days 1, 2, and 3 passed.  Nothing.  At this point, I figured she’d been off them too long, that maybe all the eggs were from before the fair (even though she was very sweet and friendly as was passed around to more children than I can count during the fair). 

BUT THEN.  We were touring the Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina, and I was already pleased at how nice it was of the Vanderbilts to give me such a large space to walk around and wear all the chicken shit off my sandals, when we got a call from the neighbor kid taking care of our zoo in our absence.  WE HAD CHICKS!!!  Over the next couple days, we ended up with 8.  Not bad!  We also ended up leaving her in with the chicks instead of using a heat lamp.  She did such a great job with the chicks.  BEST.  CHICKEN.  EVER.

All 8 chicks spent their first night out in the coop last night.  Needed a bit of training, but they’re getting along fine.  I did decide to use the brooder as chicken jail for the three bullies of the flock ( thanks a lot, Farm & Fleet), so that integration will happen later.  Our rooster is a bantam leghorn, so the chicks are interesting.  So far the hens look like leghorns, the roosters look more like darker americauanas.

But now the favor.  I’m not a fan of the leg bands.  And I don’t like the ones F&F have anyway.  So I ordered wing bands and pliers.  But I don’t really understand how they work, and don’t want to screw it up.  Any chance you’d be willing to help me get it figured out?  You could come check out our setup, or I could bring them to you.  Or are the birds too old?  They’re 7 weeks.

Regardless, I hope you enjoyed the story!  And feel free to share with Mike - these little americaunas really are great little birds!!!

Mike Gilbert
1st John 5:11-13