Our New Grand Experiment

I love chicken. Roasted chicken, baked chicken, fried chicken, chicken kabobs, jerk chicken, pesto chicken, chicken… OK, OK — I may be sounding a bit like Bubba on “Forrest Gump” — but I get his passion. There are so many ways to love chicken.

Xandy, if he had his way, would have nothing to do with the critters, save the three or so that we have for eggs. Here’s one now:

One of our laying hens hanging out in the barn. She's letting me know how she feels about this post.

One of our laying hens hanging out in the barn. She’s letting me know how she feels about this post.

Xandy’s father Mark tried his hand at chickens for a while. He even had a chicken house built which stands on the property to this day.

At one time, the chicken house held upwards of 20,000 birds.  Now it serves as excess storage and a wholesale discount store.

At one time, the chicken house held upwards of 20,000 birds. Now it serves as excess storage and a wholesale discount store.

 

After six years of prodding, Xandy has decided to give into my chicken obsession and we are venturing into raising meat birds. We are starting small, of course, as we have no idea how this is going to work.

For the past month, we have been raising 24 Red Rangers in the barn until they are large enough to be outside. Today, one by one, we scooped them up and let them into their new home outside the barn. The scooping process was a story in itself, as we ran from place to place chasing the damn things. I kept telling them that they’d like where they were going so they needed to calm the hell down. They finally listened:

Our new chicken home. We set it up close to the barn in hopes that predators will be deterred.

Our new chicken home. We set it up close to the barn in hopes that predators will be deterred.

Yup. The thing is electric. We checked it with a voltage meter, but Mark’s dog Molly let us know by touching her nose to it just how powerful the charge is. The chickens, however, barely noticed. As Xandy said, they are “fully insulated.”

A few of these guys tried to get through the holes. The minute their combs or toes touched the fence, however, ZAP. Clucking birds.

A few of these guys tried to get through the holes. The minute their combs or toes touched the fence, however, ZAP. Clucking birds.

After 20 minutes or so they learned the ropes (or the fence, I suppose). They have figured out water and the shade/element hut that Xandy built.

That funky bird in the front is "Lucy" (named by Kitt of course), the mystery bird that was sent with our order. She will stay with us as a laying hen as will the three salt-and-pepper barred rocks that are also hanging with the rangers.

That funky bird in the front is “Lucy” (named by Kitt of course), the mystery bird that was sent with our order. She will stay with us as a laying hen as will the three salt-and-pepper barred rocks that are also hanging with the rangers.

Another view of happy, grazing chickens.

Another view of happy, grazing chickens.

 

Now all we have to worry about are the cows. Let’s hope they figure out the fence and don’t go letting loose the chickens.

Lakota is excited to see how this all works:

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Lakota loves chicken, too. Thankfully, she hasn’t used one as a chew toy for a few years. She has learned to happily co-exist.

The experiment continues.

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