Chickens and Puppies and Kittens, Oh My

Cultivating a DreamBefore last year, almost the only time I’d seen a chicken, was on my dinner plate. On August 1, 2013, I ordered 75 chicks.

I should have had my head examined.

After two dying within a day, and my dog Sam playing with one to death and me sobbing, we’ve pretty much kept the rest. (Although they are difficult to count.) I thought they would pasture and not eat chicken feed. Wrong. If I don’t feed them twice a day at a specific time, they will fly in my hair and on my back and out of the fence as I approach them. This morning, we heard a knocking noise on our window. Our house is a quarter mile from the coop.

Feeding the chickens

“You’re late. It’s probably a chicken,” Tom said.

Also, I didn’t figure out the fact that we don’t have pasture. Now we have mud. And lots of it.

So after three or four catastrophes and about 5,000 hours of man and womanpower, a couple weeks before Christmas, we got our first egg.

You would have thought we had a mid-life-crisis-baby.

So the chicken purchase has cost us close to the national debt and we’ve retrieved perhaps four dozen eggs so far.

But that’s not the end of the story.

You see, we had to store the chicken feed somewhere and not only don’t we have pastures, but we don’t have any storage buildings so the chicken feed is stored under our house.

Rats found the feed. We needed mousers.

Enter Reep and Cheep, two male stray kittens.

Cats

Now I go to Tractor Supply and buy 100 pounds of chicken feed and 20 pounds of kitty food. That’s not counting the warm milk the kitties get every night. (I might need a cow next.)

Then there’s the safety of the “ladies.” We can’t have our national debt chickens being eaten by someone other than us. We needed a guardian. A dog. A Great Pyrenees.

Trouble was, I couldn’t just get one. She’d be lonely, so I got two girls – Molly and Lacey.

Dogs on the porch

Not only had I never had chickens, I’d never had an outside dog.

I picked up “the girls” and they got sick in my car on the way home. Big time. They’d never been on a leash and were afraid of Tom and I. After I put their colorful collars on, I leashed them.

“Come on, Lacey! Come on, Molly!” They sat.

The outside-dog-thing wasn’t going well.

“Where do we put them?” Tom asked.

I hadn’t thought of that either. So we made a make-shift pen under our porch. Then I had the bright idea of putting them on our porch. They weren’t potty trained. That was big time, too.

Tom set up a strand of electric fence next to our chicken “ladies” to hold our puppy “girls.”

Immediately, Molly and Lacey ran from zap to zap like a pinball machine until they retreated to a makeshift doghouse we put in for them.

Lacey didn’t come out for over a day.

Then it got rainy and cold. We put them back on the porch and tried potty training them. They ran away.

Tom took off in his truck and I took off in the van. We combed our 60+ acres. I knocked on the doors of a couple of our neighbors. Three hours later we still found no trace of them.

My husband thought of Sam – our inside, couch-loving, potty trained Standard Poodle.

Within five minutes Sam found them. Molly came back with Tom, but Lacey ran off again only to show up four hours later.

They have a proper doghouse now. It’s very trendy since it’s made of reclaimed oak and a shiny metal roof. They’re getting used to the electric fence, and each day I take them in with me to meet the chickens. No recent catastrophes. Although I have no doubt there will be others.

Tomorrow, I’ll head to Tractor Supply to get 100 pounds of chicken food, 40 pounds of kitty food, 50 pounds of dog food, with a stop at the local meat market to pick up large dog bones.

And the day after that, I’ll probably head to the vet.

I’m eating the most expensive eggs in the world.

And they taste good.

Before last year, almost the only time I’d seen a chicken, was on my dinner plate. So August 1st, 2013 I ordered 75 chicks.

I should have had my head examined.

After two dying within a day, and my dog Sam playing with one to death and me sobbing, we’ve pretty much kept the rest. (Although they are difficult to count.) I thought they would pasture and not eat chicken feed. Wrong. If I don’t feed them twice a day at a specific time, they will fly in my hair an on my back and out of the fence as I approach them. This morning, we heard a knocking noise on our window. Our house is a quarter mile away from the coop.

“You’re late. It’s probably a chicken,” Tom said.

Also, I didn’t figure out the fact that we don’t have pasture. Now we have mud. And lots of it.

So after three or four catastrophes and about 5000 hours of man and woman power, a couple weeks before Christmas, we got our first egg.

You would have thought we had a mid-life-crisis-baby.

So the chicken purchase has cost us close to the national debt and we’ve retrieved perhaps 4 dozen eggs so far.

But that’s not the end of the story.

You see, we have to store the chicken feed somewhere and not only don’t we have pastures, but we don’t have any storage buildings so the chicken feed is stored under our house.

Rats found the feed. We needed mousers.

Enter Reep and Cheep, two male stray kittens.

So I go to Tractor Supply and buy 100 pounds of chicken feed and 20 pounds of kitty food. That’s not counting the warm milk the kitties get every night. (I might need a cow next.)

Then there’s the safety of the “ladies.” We can’t have our national debt chickens being eaten by someone other than us. We needed a guardian. A dog. A Great Pyrenees.

Trouble was, I couldn’t just get one. She’d be lonely, so I got two girls–Molly and Lacey.

Not only had I never had chickens, I’ve never had an outside dog.

I picked up “the girls” and they got sick in my car on the way home. Big time. They’d never been on a leash and were afraid of Tom and I. After I put their cheerful collars on, I leashed them.

“Come on Lacey! Come on Molly!” They sat. The outside-dog-thing wasn’t going well. On to our next problem.

“Where do we put them?” Tom asked.

I hadn’t thought of that either. So we made a make-shift pen under our porch. Then I had the bright idea of putting them on our porch and we found they weren’t potty trained. That was big time, too.

Tom set up a strand of electric fence next to our chicken “ladies” to hold our puppy “girls.”

Immediately, Molly and Lacey ran from zap to zap like a pinball machine until they retreated to a makeshift doghouse we put in for them.

Lacey didn’t come out for over a day.

Then it got rainy and cold. We put them back on the porch and tried potty training them. They ran away.

Tom took off in his truck and I took off in the van. Three hours later we still found no trace of them.

My husband thought of Sam–our inside, couch-loving, potty trained, standard poodle.

Within five minutes Sam found them. Molly came back but Lacey ran off again only to show up four hours later.

They have a proper dog house now. It’s very trendy since it’s made of reclaimed oak and a shiny metal roof. They’re getting used to the electric fence, and each day I take them in with me to meet the chickens. No recent catastrophes. Although I have no doubt there will be others.

Tomorrow, I’ll head into to Tractor Supply to get 100 pounds of chicken food, 40 pounds of kitty food, and 50 pounds of dog food.

And they day after that, I’ll probably head off to the vet.

I’m eating the most expensive eggs in the world.

And they taste good.

 

 

5 Comments on "Chickens and Puppies and Kittens, Oh My"

  1. jewel says:

    I remember when you came to my “mini” farm years ago to house sit and thought that the neighbors were so far away!! My chickens were the best. they do start laying after 6 month and it’s great. We just found out that the city of tarpon allows up to 4 hens in the back yard…the city is getting progressive:)

  2. Diane says:

    I will remember to be very thankful next time I eat an omlett. Realizing not every farmers wife has as much fun as you. Although I don’t think dog throw up in your van can be classified as fun,it might however be an education of a life time ,that is if you can last longer than the chickens,kittens and puppies and if Tom can keep a head of all your purchases with housing

  3. Pauline says:

    Ha! Jewel, I’d forgotten about that! Who knew I’d be a farmer’s wife??? And Diane, it is an education of a lifetime. Why did I bother with college?

  4. Jim says:

    Hey Pauline – maybe you should seek advice from WY ranchers?! Loved reading this!!

  5. Pauline says:

    Thanks, WY friends! You should come and inspect our farm for yourselves!

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