Eggs go in the nesting box!

We lost one of the feral hens, Screamy (the black one), to the neighbor’s dog. She had been hopping the fence pretty frequently in order to lay eggs in their yard, and the old dog finally managed to get her.

The other feral, Blondie (the… well, the blond one), started to do the same. In fact, she was laying eggs all over our yard–in the shed, on the “grassy knoll,” in potted plants, and so on.

Left to rt: Peepers, Blondie, Crooksie, Bawk Bawk, Miss Red, Squawkers

Worried that she might meet the same fate as Screamy, I submitted a query to the local urban chicken mailing list to find out how to encourage Blondie to use the nesting boxes in the chicken coop, rather than roam all over the place.

The answer turned out to be pretty simple: add a nesting box, and put some ceramic eggs in it.

The reason she’s scattering her eggs all over is presumably a survival/reproductive instinct aggravated by the fact that she’s used to a feral lifestyle. The more nests she has, the more likely that she’ll eventually manage to collect a sizeable clutch in at least one of them, whereupon she may commence sitting and hatching some babies.

Because I was taking the eggs out of the nesting box every day, Blondie didn’t feel like it was a very safe place for her to leave her eggs. The solution? Leave some fake eggs in the box.

Dogs can't tell the difference, either. Dozer tried to eat these.

So far, it’s a great solution. No more eggs all over the yard, no more Blondie hopping the fence.

The only surprising side effect? Apparently, the tan color of the ceramic eggs has really ticked off the Ameraucanas; I haven’t seen a blue egg from either of them in a week!

In other news, Bawk Bawk finally molted! By the time the new ones started poking out, she was so bald, she looked practically plucked. Probably would have taken the prize in a World’s Ugliest Chicken contest. Now she’s fully feathered.

Also, it’s mulberry season again. Yuck yuck yuck. I don’t have the time to pick the berries for a pie or anything this year. The mulberries coat the ground around the shed and the chicken coop, and the sour, rotten smell of smashed mulberries brings flies and caterpillars and mosquitos and pretty much every wild bird and insect for miles around. If we didn’t value the shade from it so highly, I’m sure we’d have cut it down by now; it’s such a mess.

The ground covered in mulberries

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More feral chickens

I found a nice lady on a nice farm to take my feral rooster. With the coop empty, I set the trap up again.

The very next day, I had a second rooster trapped. He spent one night with us, then went to the farm to join his brother.

And this morning, Byrd trapped a feral hen in the coop. This is not the momma hen of the roosters; this is the roosters’ sister. She is a smooth tan color, very pretty.

We are going to try and integrate the hen into our flock. We made this decision in part because the momma hen and the third rooster were still in our yard this morning, and we needed the trap cleared quickly so we could try to catch them, too. 🙂 So we dumped the feral hen into our chicken coop.

So far, she’s scared, and the other hens are doing a bit of pecking as they reinforce the idea that she’s the lowest chicken on the totem pole. But they haven’t really fought or anything. I think it will work out.

Unfortunately, the process of catching and moving the feral hen into our coop was noisy and chaotic, so the remaining rooster and hen ran off and haven’t come back yet. No worries, it’s only a matter of time. So far we’ve caught a chicken every single day that the trap is open.

Now I have to come up with yet another chicken sound to name this chicken. So far we have used: Peepers, Squawkers (deceased), Cluckers (deceased), Cackle, and Bawk Bawk. (The oddballs are Miss Red and Crooksie.)

Feral Roosters

A flock of feral roosters has invaded our yard. One of them even beat up Peepers yesterday. I found poor Peepers hiding in the shed, under the riding mower, with a bloody face. The hens were hanging out with the victor.

So last night I set up a trap made out of the spare dog kennel. It involved one corn cob placed on the ground inside the kennel, and a piece of string tied to the kennel door. The string, of course, leads into the house through a window.

This morning I heard plenty of crowing and I knew there were roosters afoot. From inside the house, holding the string, I watched two of the roosters wandering near the dog kennel. Peepers was livid but he was stuck in his own coop.

Then one of the roosters walked right into the kennel to eat the corn! I yanked on the string, which shut the kennel door, and the rooster is now trapped. Now I just have to figure out what to do with it.

IMG_0554

One rooster down, two to go. And maybe the hen that laid these guys, too.