My tough little chicks!

Leslie Silverman

So a very cool friend of mine had to get rid of her chickens and asked me to take them.

I have always wanted chickens but right now is so not the best time for me to have them. Yet I went over there about two weeks ago to pick them up. I watched my friend trying to round them up — I certainly wasn’t about to get pecked to death and didn’t dare try to touch them.

It took her over an hour and she got almost all of them — one smart hen and the pesky rooster were too quick for her. I transported them back to my place in Sadie’s old dog carrier. I have an old shed near the creek that I put shavings in and let the chicks chill in there. I  put a wire fence blockading their escape. 

The next morning I had no food but took some flax seed out to them. Sadie was right beside me and when she saw them she went a bit crazy, chasing them to no end. She ran after one, then the other, and it was utter chaos.

I couldn’t get her to listen, I couldn’t get the chickens to listen and I was certain, when she came back licking her chops, that all the chickens were dead. 

The following day was the day of the blizzard and I went to stay in Rapid until Sunday. I came home to find one chicken in my driveway, alive! I left Sadie in the car and tried to coax the chicken back to its coop. It wouldn’t go.

I figured it was too sad since it was the only one alive. I didn’t want it to freeze to death so I went to the coop to get Sadie’s carrier and saw all the chickens...alive! So basically, these bad you-know-what chicks had survived an attack from a dog, a blizzard and two days without food! These were some determined chicks and I suddenly related to them on many levels!

I got the flock together and went to the store and bought chicken food, which I might add you can buy in Wallymart! I had no idea how much to give them or how to keep Sadie from them or their food. I had an old cutting board lying around and put a scoop of feed on it. Sadie lunged at them but when I said a loud “no!” she stopped.  I asked her to find her “bally” to distract her and she did, allowing the hens to feast dog free.

Fast forward to the other day, almost two weeks with chicks. I slept in and went to feed the girls at around 10:30 a.m. They had flown the coop.

A tear came to my eye. I admit I have not been blocking them in at night because I get home well after dark and getting to the shed they are in is a total pain in the you-know-what — it’s a sheet of ice with no lights to guide me.

I felt sad, guilty and kind of irresponsible. Sadie I noticed, was not beside me. I turned to call her when all of a sudden, one hen appeared. And then another and then...they all were there surrounding me, wanting their food.

I had bought them a metal chicken food thingee the other day (my girls can’t eat out of plastic!) and I placed it on the cutting board for them to peck at. I then walked away. They followed me. I realized they had no clue their food was in this fancy thing so I tried to show them by shaking it. Nope! I ended up opening it and spreading the food on the cutting board like they were used to.

As I walked away, Sadie by my side, I thought to myself, “I am their person!” Just like Sadie, they rely on me, look up to me. And not only that, Sadie is their big sister. She knew they weren’t in the coop well before I did and she was herding them (and thankfully not hurting them), like any border collie would. 

I still have a long way to go in making this chicken thing legit. I figure if they survive the winter come springtime I will hook them up with some palatial housing. Until then they can toughen up in their temporary digs, becoming strong chicks like Sadie and I are! (We are after all wintering in a camper this year...but that’s a column for some other time.)

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