Anyone who truly knows me knows that I dislike ... no, loathe ... chickens. I grew up with chickens, so it's not like I arrived at my abhorrence of them based on an utter lack of experience. Chickens are nasty, filthy, vicious, disgusting creatures that deserve to die and be offered up on my plate.
This is why anyone who truly knows me will be surprised at the latest addition to the home farm: chickens.
After an unusually warm and wet winter, the bugs are already out in force, especially flies and ticks. I have a strong reluctance toward drenching my farm with pesticides. Nasty chemicals. I don't want to poison my horses or my water supply.
So, I figured the best pest control was natural. What eats bugs? Chickens and guinea hens.
It's a slippery slope I set foot upon.
I put the word out: I'm seeking mature birds, not chicks. (The barn cat will kill chicks.) I'm not interested in collecting eggs or butchering birds. I want bug-eating machines. If you're looking to rehome a few chickens, such as hens that have stopped laying eggs, I'll take them off your hands.
I got a response. Someone in the extended neighborhood had a couple of black silkie roosters he wanted to rehome. I was hesitant: roosters tend to be aggressive. He assured me they weren't. Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I picked them up and brought them home.
Now what? They need a shelter that isn't my barn. So, I improvised. We have large, plastic, 55-gallon barrels left over from the alpaca and llama 4-H days. With my husband's assistance, we tossed in some old hay for bedding and lay one of the barrels down in what's left of the loafing shed. He set it on jump standards to keep it off the wet ground. In went the two chickens.
The next morning, I checked on them. They were still in the barrel, quiet and content. I figured they were probably hungry, so I pulled them from the barrel and set them on the ground beside a pan of grain. They squawked for several minutes, then calmed down. A few minutes later, they were doing what chickens do: pecking the ground and eating. So, the chickens know where their "nest" is and they're settling in.
The horses aren't sure what to make of these new critters, but I could grow fond these little guys. They're not aggressive. They're not obnoxiously loud. They're kind of cute.
I'd like to bring home a few more--just a few for bug control.
Good grief, I have chickens.