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September 27, 2013 8:35 PM   Subscribe

Gateway livestock The hazard of backyard chickens. The interweb loves its chickens: They're pets in the backyard, with their own magazines. Even the New Yorker says they're the "It" bird. But can you really handle chickens? Before you get overwhelmed and dump your new pets in the shelter, you might try renting.

I've always had barnyard hens for eggs, but now I've got me some fancy heritage chicks with a rooster to promote the breed--bigger is better!

And I'll take them to the Fair. But first they need a bath, and here's how:
Tub one. Tub two. Tub three. Bathtime for your chicken using "a gentle plunging motion" and a vinegar rinse. Don't forget the toenails. Show like a pro. Learn the tricks for showing your chicken.

It is rather addicting.
posted by BlueHorse (57 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Here is a relevant AskMe question, riding the crest of the nascent poultry-raising wave. If you want to join that flock, you can comb the site for more, but don't get cooped up into thinking this is the only resource. Peck some searches into Google, range and forage around in those results, maybe subscribe to a new feed or two. You might oh jesus just kill me already.
posted by cog_nate at 8:54 PM on September 27, 2013 [19 favorites]

If the chickens die because of natural causes or from getting eaten by predators, Rent the Chicken will replace the chickens free of charge.

If a chicken dies because of neglect or you decide to cook a chicken dinner, the rental will be terminated. According to Phil Tompkins, that situation has not come up yet.

How would they know?
posted by Bwithh at 8:55 PM on September 27, 2013

The bath video is utterly charming.
posted by figurant at 8:58 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

What if your kitty is the predator - again and again and again. Unlimited Buffet?
posted by Bwithh at 9:03 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Guess what?
posted by vozworth at 9:19 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Your kitty will try that once. Exactly once. After recovering from the embarrassing ass kicking it will inevitably endure it will pretend that nothing ever happened and that those chickens do not actually exist at all.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 9:22 PM on September 27, 2013 [26 favorites]

When I had free-ranging chickens and cats with free access to the outdoors, my cats had no interest in the chickens.
posted by padraigin at 9:23 PM on September 27, 2013

I invest in a co-operative venture to raise chickens and produce eggs. It's called a grocery store.

Chickens are livestock and do not belong in cities. If my neighbors ever start raising chickens, I'm going to start raising foxes and bobcats, and any other chicken predator I can find.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:02 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

A couple of years ago several nearby towns and cities were in the throes of drafting backyard chicken bylaws. I was struck by the vehemence of those opposed to the idea who seemed think that replacing a small patch of lawn with a chicken run and a coop would bring about the end of civilization as we know it.
Then again, while reading the article about hipsters dumping their new pets when they couldn't cope I pictured forlorn chickens showing up at the SPCA wearing tiny hand-knit fedoras.
posted by islander at 10:11 PM on September 27, 2013 [12 favorites]

Chickens are the easier animals to take care of, as long as you put a roof over them so a raccoon doesn't climb in and kill them at 2:00AM.

I live in the country.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:16 PM on September 27, 2013

Some neighbors down the street from me keep chickens. We're in an informal contest to be The Biggest Eyesore; they have a container garden of sorts ALL OVER the front yard (what I mean is, anything that can hold plants will, pitchers, blenders, paint buckets, corningware) while I have a wilderness of palmettos and crepe-myrtles and ferns sprouting everywhere.

The Chicken Neighbors only have hens, I think, because nothing crows, though on quiet days I can hear the chickens going buk-buk-buk-buk, which is an interesting addition to the jays, seagulls, herons (they screech), mockingbirds, and quaker parrots (who also screech and scream too).

But back to the chickens. They have four or five, some white, one brown, one almost black, in a structure made of bits of fence and plywood and who knows what else, which would likely end up several counties away the next time we get a hurricane. I like detouring past them when I walk the dog, because hey, chickens! Mostly they hang out in their makeshift coop, doing their chicken thing, and when the dog gets excited at their presence they are all YEAH? COME AT ME, DOG. It is very funny to see a chicken give a dog the beady little stink-eye.

Once, while dog-walking, I saw the lady of the house go tearing out down the street, grab hold of the brown chicken, run back, and pitch it over the fence, the chicken flapping uselessly the whole time. The other chickens were very excited by this jailbreak.

Not sure I'd want my own, I'm full up on pets, but it's neat having chickens around. Buk-buk-buk-buk-buk-buk-buk. And yes, we're in the city.
posted by cmyk at 10:30 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

Chickens? Pfft, those are for n00bs. Llamas are what the cool kids are raising around the yard nowadays.
posted by planetesimal at 10:30 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

replacing a small patch of lawn with a chicken run and a coop would bring about the end of civilization as we know it.

Have you ever lived next to one? Because civilization as we know it is pretty durable, but a coop stinks something fierce when the wind is your way. Also mice and other parasites are now crossing your property on the way to all the yummy eggs and chicken droppings.

Not the end of the world, and a smart neighbor will try to placate you with a steady supply of fresh eggs and the occasional chicken, but still your enjoyment of your own outdoor spaces will take a definite hit.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:41 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

A couple of yard chickens are handy. They keep fleas down, and other pesky crawling things. A rooster will keep your cats humble, and teach most dogs a few manners. Also, they are fun to chase about the property with your pickup.
posted by mule98J at 11:00 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

In Brisbane there are rules that in the city area you are only allowed to keep up to 6 hens and no cockerels, because of the noise. The thing that the law doesn't take into account is that the boss hen (there definitely is a pecking order) seems to undergo a transformation whereby they think they are a cockerel and will do a pretty fair cock-a-doodle-do impression. We spend spend much of our time shouting, "for god's sake Mopsie, you're not a cockerel, shut up!" (The other problem with urban chickens, not mentioned in the video, is that your children will name them.)
posted by drnick at 11:04 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

A family in my neighborhood raises chickens. I don't really mind when the guy lets the hens run loose on his front yard. But I really wish that he wouldn't take his cock out.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:16 PM on September 27, 2013 [7 favorites]

Any warnings for getting pygmy goats?
posted by lkc at 11:55 PM on September 27, 2013

Chickens (and honeybees, too) got legal in my borough earlier this summer, and the code change allowing them was the most contentious thing our borough council has had to deal with in years. Council meetings, usually held before a sea of empty chairs, were standing room only for three months straight. I found it difficult to understand the frothiness of the opposition. I think that maybe some people see proximity to chickens as a status marker, as if having them nearby means we are slipping from pretty white-collar suburbia into barrio or hillbillydom.

I have a close neighbor who's had chickens since before they were technically legal; her coop was the unplanned catalyst for the legalization effort. They shelter in a little house that's better-built than some residences for people. She regularly cleans out their pen, so it doesn't stink (well, there was one warm day I noticed it got a bit ripe) and there's a steady stream of very potent compost material available. Like any other animal, whether they're a problem for neighbors depends on the owner. What with the barking that's not always corrected and the crapping that's not always picked up after, neighbors' dogs are often more intrusive than these chickens are.
posted by jon1270 at 12:32 AM on September 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

Am I a hipster if it's my chickens that wear the hats?

Seriously, I get that "renting chickens" is a way to laugh at a certain fashion for
posted by Mngo at 12:44 AM on September 28, 2013

We're in an informal contest to be The Biggest Eyesore; they have a container garden of sorts ALL OVER the front yard (what I mean is, anything that can hold plants will, pitchers, blenders, paint buckets, corningware) while I have a wilderness of palmettos and crepe-myrtles and ferns sprouting everywhere.

If this is an eyesore in your neighborhood, you're doing super okay.
posted by Camofrog at 12:59 AM on September 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

Well this would be a great opportunity for a sequel.
posted by quirkyturky at 1:11 AM on September 28, 2013

I have a backyard flock that lives in a coop I tacked onto a shed in my backyard. I can open the coop door in the morning by pulling a cord without getting out of bed, because I am not getting out of bed to open their stupid door. I never have to kill birds because they free range and hawks kill them for me. My flock has reached stasis at about ten birds. I use most of my eggs for dog food. Life is pretty good with chickens.

Just don't name them, don't confuse them with pets, and don't overlook the fact that they are selfish assholes who would trample their mother into the dirt for a sunflower seed.
posted by Camofrog at 1:14 AM on September 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

Llamas are what the cool kids are raising around the yard nowadays.

Pfft, cool kids. I had a llama, too... once... he's not around anymore, because he was struck by lightning. The same night, two of our highland cattle got hit by lightning a half a mile away. They exploded. That's hardcore life on the farm, dude.

Actually, it was pretty sad. He was my mom's favorite of all our livestock, and a nice llama, too - no spitting, no bad temper, just a loveable goofy creature that loved to pick the pockets of anybody nearby and just hang out with people. The cows were a different story. They went to the butchers, and came back in nice wrapped packages, that I labeled 'wonderboy' with a little lightning logo. The logo joke received... mixed reactions.

As far as chickens go, I'd love to have a few out on the roof of our apartment here in the city. The bad smells and such happen when you don't take clean the roost regularly. I doubt the neighbors would like the noise, or the occasional chance of a random chicken flying (perhaps "assisted freefall" would be more appropriate) down from a third floor apartment roof to say "hi".
posted by chambers at 1:23 AM on September 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

Cluck on the link

What is this, the NZWW?
posted by pompomtom at 1:48 AM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I see you thinking about it, kid. Sure, these chickens look so cute. You grew up playing with cuccos on your fancy consoles; you're eating eggs; you are probably wondering "what harm could it do? I'll try just one - I can stop any time I want, anyway".

I know your thinking. My cousin Tom used to think like that. He got one chicken. Then he had another five.

Then he got a pig.

Then two goats "It's, like, they've made me see man", he whispered to me, his eyes fevered, but looking as ravaged as his garden.

Sheep followed. Donkeys. COWS.

The last time I saw him he would only mutter "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" repeating it again and again like a mantra. In the distance, I could hear the telltale signs of the buffalo as the cold wind made me shiver.

Think you can just have one chicken, kid?

Just say no.
posted by ersatz at 2:19 AM on September 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


(For chambers's llama. And the cows, too, I guess. But that llama sounds like he was a prince among ungulates.)
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 2:27 AM on September 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

My wife got us three baby chicks with the idea of all the eggs we could want. They lived in the house with us until they were big enough to live outside. We repurposed the kids' playhouse into a chicken house and they live happily outside. They run around all day, take dirt baths and love their morning and evening snacks. Just watching them is entertainment. And they're quite vocal, I often sit with them and chat (though none of us truly understand what we're saying). Now we're just waiting for them to being laying eggs, it should be fairly soon.

Check my Flickr for photos if you'd like to see them.
posted by tommasz at 3:01 AM on September 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

Oh good, I get to posts the Missoula Chicken Ordinance video again. What the Cluck?
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 4:22 AM on September 28, 2013

I can't wait to use the phrase, "I highly recommend you use petroleum jelly on your chicken." in conversation.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 4:33 AM on September 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

I have two large, free roaming backyard chickens, a barnevelder and a sussex. They're funny, low-maintenance pets, don't make much sense wrt costs and benefits but add a lot of colour to the backyard. I'm sentimental enough to plan to keep them for however long they live, even after the egg production tapers down.

The barnevelder, Raisa, is very pretty and only makes soft clucking noises, so so far she's been the ideal city chicken. The sussex, Ilona, is cheerful, sociable, loud and dumb as a rock. She regards me as the Treat Dispensing Chicken, follows me around cooing tenderly, and greedily inspects everything I touch, which resulted in her plunging her face into a can of paint when I was painting the fence. Whenever I try to do a bit of gardening she's convinced that can only mean it's digging time, pushes me aside and scratches a huge hole in the ground. It's only convenient when I'm trying to plant something. (Although they later destroy most things I plant; I'm still in the trial and error phase of finding plants they don't like to eat. Blackcurrants and apple trees seem promising so far.)

I get two large eggs almost every day, but the girls also eat a good part of our kitchen garbage, our compost is fantastic, and I've learned to speak a bit of Chicken. The neighbourhood cats, who used to regard our backyard as their open air litterbox, have learned to avoid it now - too bad I wasn't there to see how that went down. The coop doesn't stink, but we do need a fly trap. And I can't sunbathe in the backyard anymore because apparently, my lips look like juicy worms.
posted by sively at 4:42 AM on September 28, 2013 [17 favorites]

Don’t get backyard chickens unless you are prepared to kill them. -

"Hens lay eggs until they’re about three. And then they live for five to seven years after that."

What arrant nonsense; the bald assurance given to this distortion is irresponsible.

For the purposes of farming eggs this is functionally true. However:

1) Different breeds have different rates of drop-off.

2) Eggs do not stop; the frequency decreases. In some chickens/breeds the drop-off is very steep. In some chickens/breeds it's barely perceptible.

3) Healthy, relaxed chickens on a good diet lay longer and more regularly, in my experience.

4) If you're really worried, keep bantams. They are cuter anyway, and don't live as long so have fewer infertile years.

5) Chickens, in my experience so rarely die of natural causes the question is almost academic. If it's not a python, it's foxes, or peregrine falcons. Or they get some weird disease and keel over (and there's so many weird diseases). Or they get a fright and die of a heart attack. I dunno, maybe this is more a country thing, but in my rural childhood which encompassed many, many chickens. I reckon less than 20% - probably less than 10% died of old age. I hope this doesn't make me/my family neglectful monsters.

I love chickens. My beloved bantam girls, my gorgeous Light Sussex, regal Silver and new Hampshires, Silkies, and Australorps were prize winners. I'm definitely getting some more when our garden is in shape.
posted by smoke at 4:45 AM on September 28, 2013 [15 favorites]

I've got some Serama (mini-bantams) just for pets. The eggs are so tiny you'd need a dozen for an omelette, and I'd have to slaughter the whole flock for a chicken dinner. But they're cute as can be, my daughters love them and they pretty much look after themselves. They're free-range in the backyard and live almost entirely on what they forage. I've got to third Smoke & Camofrog though: between the pythons, stray toms and giant monitor lizards, I don't have a great deal of natural increase.
posted by BinGregory at 5:10 AM on September 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Also, if you're eating the eggs you're missing out on the chicks, and the hen/chick dynamic is so pleasing to watch. My favorite is the way they scratch with their heads high up in the air then back up to let the chicks rush in. So motherly.
posted by BinGregory at 5:16 AM on September 28, 2013

My kids just joined the local poultry chapter of 4-H. Club members are all very excited about their pet birds because, as they told us repeatedly, CHICKENS are COOL! At a recent club meeting, our first, kids displayed their chickens and showed off fair ribbons and adults talked about upcoming poultry shows and networking opportunities. CHICKENS! They are COOL! Fist-bumps from the club director! I slunk down in my seat a bit because chickens are also tasty, and I like to raise them for my freezer. Which is cold, rather than cool. I am therefore ambivalent about belonging to a club that doesn't eat its members...
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:38 AM on September 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

One of my brother's chickens had a facenbook page. Anyway, one word, not not even a word, one acronym: H1N1
posted by sammyo at 5:41 AM on September 28, 2013

Keeping chickens is awesome. I have five hens and cockerel. Or six little dinosaurs as I prefer to think of them as. Six little dinosaurs that give me bright yellow, yolky breakfast goodness every day. And chase flung tomatoes to comedic effect. The cockerel kinda sucks as he's partial to crowing every ten seconds for the first three hours of the morning but it's his first year with his girls and he's a bit hormonal. Thankfully my nearest neighbour is half a mile upwind...
posted by Callicvol at 7:27 AM on September 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is this really a concern? My impression is that I get most of my diseases from my children. If we had chickens (and possibly bees...) my children would spend a lot more time outdoors*, lowering my overall exposure.

*or so they claim.
posted by sneebler at 7:44 AM on September 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

The chicken washing video is really charming.

I have at least four friends with backyard chickens. It's fun to go over to see them and hear all the stories of the social dynamics. I wouldn't say there's a particularly bad smell.

Our friends who have had chickens the longest (4+ years?) had a young woman show up at their front door, crying, with a hen in a box. She'd been keeping the hen as a pet in her apartment until the landlord found out. She'd seen the chickens in my friends' yard and came to beg for a home for her hen. We tease them about being a chicken orphanage.

Anyway, the house chicken wasn't accustomed at first to life in the coop and quickly discovered the kitty door. She would sneak into the house in hopes of getting to spend the night sleeping on my friends' bed.
posted by Squeak Attack at 8:19 AM on September 28, 2013 [12 favorites]

Chicken make lousy house pet.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:52 AM on September 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

I still miss my fluffy chuckleheads, especially when I put kitchen scraps in the compost. It was much more fun to toss them off the porch and watch the gals body-check each other as they raced around with the choicest bits in their beaks. I thought I should make them little roller skates so they could have a proper roller derby out there.

The last hen died of old age a few years ago and I don't have time to care for a new flock (cleaning the coop regularly took a fair bit of effort) so I put up the old home-built coop for free on Craigslist, figuring somebody would take it off my hands eventually. I got about 5 inquiries right away! When I first got chickens it was slightly kooky to have an urban flock egads does that make me a hipster? but I'm pleased to see it becoming popular. I can hear them somewhere in my neighborhood, although I've never seen (or smelled) them, and the buk-buk-buk makes me all nostalgic. Maybe when I'm retired ...
posted by Quietgal at 9:45 AM on September 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

My grandpa kept a chicken in Queens. He loved that chicken.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:24 AM on September 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

MonkeyToes: "I am therefore ambivalent about belonging to a club that doesn't eat its members..."

Do you know what happens here on Metafilter when you reach the 7-year mark?

I digress. We kicked-off chicken-keeping this year and have just seen our first eggs. I converted a badly-placed pergola into a coop and run, and our flock is seven strong. We started with eight, but one of them died a couple of weeks ago, probably of cocci, but we're not entirely sure. In any case, our flock was pairs of Black Australorps, Cuckoo Marans, Ameraucanas and Gold-laced Wyandottes. It was one of the Wyandottes that we lost, and yes, I put her down myself when it was clear that she was not going to recover.

Our local city allows up to six hens in your yard, but most (if not all) of the HOAs have specific provisions against livestock. I was pushing it with the bees in our old neighborhood but we moved out to more spacious digs earlier this year and it became a non-issue. Safely outside of city limits and surrounded by farms, the county zoning here allows something called agricultural use by right, which means I can do pretty much whatever I want here outside of a commercial nursery or quarry.

In event, the chickens have been a gas so far. We bought ours as started pullets from a local hatchery, so they looked like chickens but still cheeped like chicks. Since we got them (Fourth of July weekend), they've gotten their plumage in fully and acclimated to ranging in the afternoons around the house. The cats have learned to ignore them, though one of our kitties did take a couple of full-on runs towards the flock. The puppy is also learning to leave them be.

Folks who are interested in chicken-keeping should look at Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens, Raising Chickens for Dummies and the Backyard Chickens website in the FPP.

And they are a gateway. I'm eyeballing an area of the yard with an eye towards some Narragansett Turkeys (pics), and our oldest girl and wife are on me to add Guinea Fowl next spring for keeping the damned ticks under control. There are pictures of some of the birds in my blog (linked in my profile) along with a picture of the coop and run posted back in June.
posted by jquinby at 11:31 AM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also - we're doing something called the deep litter method for the coop floor. There is little-to-no-smell, and maintenance is pretty minimal. Add litter as needed, clean it out around once a year. The idea is that the droppings and wood shavings compost in place.
posted by jquinby at 11:33 AM on September 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

My neighbor just got chickens, and my dog is fascinated. Hoping for the best. 2 other neighbors have chickens and sell eggs. Fresh eggs from chickens that range free and eat stuff other than feed are seriously delicious. I kind of want to have chickens to eat the slugs, snails and other garden pests. I would totally rent them for a couple weeks to clean up the garden and yard. Also, best chicken soup ever was from a retired laying hen. I grew up in farm country, and livestock, even cute livestock, is for food, though I'd have to toughen up to learn to kill a cute, tasty, bird.
posted by theora55 at 2:03 PM on September 28, 2013

[The chickens] shelter in a little house that's better-built than some residences for people. informal contest to be The Biggest Eyesore....

Your coop doesn't need to be a horrible eyesore, especially if you spend $1300 on it. (Although this one has a satellite dish.) Just have your architect build specifically for the type of chicken you own. Check out the coops of the rich and famous.

These are a bit twee, or you could build something elegant with a chandelier and use a ruffled apron to gather your eggs.

If you need more, google for designer chicken coops.

...a coop stinks something fierce when the wind is your way...

Then your neighbors are doing it wrong. My coop never stinks, and I've had people put their heads in to look at it during the summer, and they ask me why not. They also love that they can pick the eggs up and they're marvelously clean. It's a rare thing if I have chicken poops on my eggs. When I house sit, and pick up eggs from other people's hen house, I get a bit, ewwww about the idea of eating them. (Yes, your eggses from the store sometimes have chicken poop on them. Large poultry farms use a series of gentle scouring machines to clean them.)

My secret?

Bed them on wood chips. Clean coop twice yearly and compost what hasn't already broken down. I will immediately go out and take pictures, then show my not-so-fancy setup in a later post.
posted by BlueHorse at 3:08 PM on September 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

Those fancy chicken coops are a hoot!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:13 PM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

They are a hoot but the insides will be rapidly covered in litter, cobwebs and chickenshit pretty quickly. There are some great coop designs at BYC, too. I was seriously eyeballing this other one when we were thinking about doing the mobile-coop-tractor thing. Instead, we settled on something stationary (coop and fully enclosed run) because I'm lazy as hell and didn't want to have to drag the thing around every few days to a new spot.
posted by jquinby at 3:40 PM on September 28, 2013

Some friends of mine had a few ducks; I don't remember how that happened, besides Feed Store + Overwhelmed With Cute + We Have Acreage. So they had ducks.

Something started to kill off the ducks, being that they were out in the country, so they decided the ducks needed protectors. They have dogs, but these are soppy lovey squishy dogs who are afraid of the chickens, and doubly afraid of whatever was after them.

So they got geese, which are said to be good flock guardians, and what is a flock if not a collection of birds? They were adorable fuzzy youngsters, with friendly little baby honks and delightful tiny webbed feet.

The geese grew up, and they learned why geese are so good at protecting things: geese are mean motherfuckers. The geese took to attacking any humans in sight, and graciously ignored the ducks when the ducks wanted into the kiddie pool. They did nothing to protect the ducks, who kept dying.

Somewhere along the line, chickens got involved. They didn't last long, being broiler culls, and the geese did nothing to protect them either.

Now they have a gaggle of four pair-bonded geese, the dopiest of which is NAMED AFTER ME, with no chickens or ducks, and the geese must be managed with a rake. Geese have not forgotten for a second that their ancestors were dinosaurs, and they won't let anybody else forget, either.

Don't get geese. Down that path is only heartbreak, a rake with bite-marks, and mangled sneakers.
posted by cmyk at 5:51 PM on September 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

Wait, no. They're down to three. The one named after me was pair-bonded with his sister and they hatched one offspring. The sister disappeared. The poor inbred offspring has an unrelated mate of his own, but gets the attentions of my sad and lonely namesake as well.

There's a goose in Oregon named after me who mated with his sister and now buggers his addled son/nephew. I am so proud, y'all don't even know.
posted by cmyk at 6:43 PM on September 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

As kids, both my husband and I had chickens. About six years ago, he decided that we needed fresh eggs. So we got six Indian runner ducks. Very cute! Then we moved a 1000 miles, and had the four remaining ducks, two cats and three young kids with us in the car for the trip. For the record, the cats were the worst - they meowed for the 15 hour ride - the whole way.

We now have property - and hawks. So we got some African geese -5 of them. Then, well, we needed something to protect the geese from the coyotes, so we now have two livestock guard dogs.The ducks have multiplied to about 25, and we currently have 20 geese.

The dogs bark viciously at people (but it is mostly show) the geese honk - and the neighborhood kids still come over to play. My geese don't want to peck you, unless you don't feed them. Or you back away.

One neighbor did comment to me once about how quiet it used to be before all the neighbors got all manner of animals. Oh well. We moved here because there are no covenants or other rules. And frankly because we could see that neighbors mostly had farm animals.
posted by 101cats at 7:32 PM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

It is stated in a film from 1948 regarding poultry production, The Chicken of Tomorrow, that in 1948 every county in every state in the US raised chickens in some form, either large farms or just small hutches in the backyard.

For those who feel that title may be familiar, or are looking to have a good clucking time watching the film mentioned in the previous paragraph, you probably have seen or should see the MST3k version.
posted by chambers at 8:21 PM on September 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

I want a few camels. Unfortunately, I have nowhere to put them. They sure wont let me have them here.
They won't let me have chickens here either. Everyone has stinky surprise poop-makers oooops! I meant useless smelly bark monsters...
Oooops! I meant cats and dogs, which even if they were well cared for (and they mostly aren't...) mess the place up far more than a few chickens might. Mr. Roquette and I love chickens. We go and spend a long time looking at them at the fair here. They are pretty, they make eggs and are edible. If you don't keep lots of them you don't get a bad smell, and they eat earwigs!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:27 PM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

My daughter and SiL got some land which is tick-infested. Just sent them info on Guinea-fowl, because they would seriously benefit from having them.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:42 PM on September 28, 2013

Guineas are neat. They're also sort of...vocal. Moar.

But they are funny as all get out when you see the moving en masse from one place to another. Aside from ticks, they'll also do a number on snakes too.

You apparently have to get them as chicks so that you can imprint THIS IS HOME on them or they'll just wander off, which is what will happen if you get them as adults and plop them into your yard.
posted by jquinby at 12:54 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Our chickens died earlier this year from dog attack, although only shortly before they were to become dinner. It was a rather gruesome morning, but it's what happens sometimes. I'm starting to get excited for picking out our new flock over the winter. These store bought eggs are awful.
posted by stoneweaver at 1:39 PM on September 30, 2013

The first chickens my family bought were from a very remote farmhouse in eastern Ohio. It was a dilapidated, large place in the middle of a pine forest, with an old bearded man on a rocking chair, and the chickens were everywhere - rooftops, on tree branches, on lighting fixtures, and generally running around rampant.

When my father had agreed on a price for about 12 hens and a rooster, the old man called out for his son, who suddenly scampered from underneath the porch, barefoot and shirtless with a couple feed bags already in his hands. He could not have been older than 12. He then proceeded to climb up one of the large pine trees, still barefoot, mind you, and with the skill of a circus acrobat, grab the chickens from the tree and place them in the bags. He must have been at least 20-25 feet up the tree when he started collecting hens (Maybe that's where the better hens hang out, I don't know).

He then somehow climbed down the tree with two big feed bags with 6 chickens in each of them, and presented them to us. The rooster was chosen by the old man from the selection at ground level, and we went on our way.

They were damn fine egg producers, and all of them had a good long life. So when you're choosing poultry, make sure they come from the highest branches.
posted by chambers at 2:29 PM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

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