A couple weeks ago I headed out to work on my coop expansion and found…a disaster zone! We’d mulched the blueberries and blackberries the day before, and also laid a new brick border to define the space. The neatly laid border was no longer visible and the straw was all over the place. I heard some happy clucks, looked up – and spotted some of my neighbor’s chickens!
It started off as slightly hilarious and quickly became a day of frustration as I tried to convince a gorgeous rooster and his little flock of four hens to head back home. They feasted in my compost pile, checked out the fallen leaves near the fire pit, and uncovered my freshly planted onions in the field. It seemed like every time I turned around they were wandering through my workspace as I focused on enclosing the new coop run. By day’s end at my wit’s end and tired of chasing the birds back home – and asked my roommate to get in touch with our neighbor.
Chad moved in about a year ago and is a really nice guy. He’s a local firefighter and working hard to clear the property so he can build. So far he has chickens, goats, and a donkey – hearing that donkey is so much fun! When my roommate told him his free-ranging birds had found our field and we were getting ready to plant veg, he told us that if we could catch them we could keep them. Turns out these birds were escape artists – his other rooster and hens are content to stay in their enclosure. Cool.
I thought about it overnight and came up with a plan – assuming the birds came back (they disappeared at dusk). Free-ranging birds comes with more problems than lack of fence respect – predators like foxes, dogs, and hawks abound in our area. I spotted Chad’s Gold Comet first; it was hours before I saw the two Gold-Laced Wyandottes. The pond was what really got them in – they spent their time drinking so much water I was able to lock them into the new coop run with no difficulty. I threw in some feed, let them get to know my chickens and ducks through the fence for a few days, then took down the fence and they were officially part of my flock.
The first night they spent in the coop I pieced together what must have happened overnight. One of the Gold-Laced Wyandottes was missing most of her chest feathers and was super skittish – my guess is the local foxes found them and these three managed to escape. They’ve gotten used to me and are healing well. I never saw the rooster or the white hen again. The Gold Comet is the head of this little flock. They sleep in the new coop each night with her in the middle keeping them safe.
The other sign that there was some sort of animal attack was their eggs. They were flattened, mis-shapen, and the shells were really rough for about a week. The girls – I call them Chad’s Chickens – have healed up beautifully. Their feathers are grown in, they are eating well, their eggs are indistinguishable from the other girls, and they fit in with the flock just fine.
Thanks to Chad I’m up to 26 laying birds and selling more eggs than ever – what a great neighbor!