The Quick Switch

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There they went galloping down the neighbor’s driveway when it dawned on me how they were getting out.  We set up boards to block the larger sections of chicken wire.  Apparently a five inch square is all they need to get out.  Smug, we grinned at the baby goats, blew them a kiss, and went back to our work in the house.

I looked out and saw them playing in the fairgrounds among moving trucks and horses!  The entire back fence is made up of those five inch chicken wire squares!  We knew we were in trouble.  After Jill read my post yesterday, she expected my call.  She had been considering keeping the little monsters herself but thought they would be perfect for us.  She said to bring them on over.  She only lives a few miles from us and we can go visit them if we would like.  They ran around her farm gleefully, kicking up their heels, and reacquainting themselves with their long lost siblings.  They did not even give us a second look as we left.  I cried.  They played.  Goats.  Already breaking my heart.  I doubt alpacas can fit through chicken wire.  Hmmm.

Jill had asked on the phone though for a favor in return.  Coyotes had wiped out eighteen of her chickens in a mere two eves.  Only one remained.  A docile Jersey Giant like our Laverne.  We said we would take her.  The coyotes, for some reason, gather chicken buffets from all around us, but have never ventured into our yard.  (Let me go find some wood to knock on real quick….)  Perhaps because we keep them locked up snug starting at dusk?  A loving guard greyhound?  Too much racket in the fairgrounds?  Whatever the reason, we seem to have a little chicken shield around our place.

Laverne used to be a pair.  Laverne and Shirley were a few of our first chickens but an accident involving a maniac four year old and his dog ended the life of Shirley.  So, Doug deemed the new girl Shirley, as she is smaller than Laverne, and he just likes having Laverne and Shirley in the back yard.  Now, how to get her in without anyone noticing?

We have failed at this before.  The first time we introduced too soon in the daylight…not good.  The second time we introduced ten chicks in a dog carrier over the course of three days.  That worked fairly well, but the bully big girls were still pretty snotty.  We had to think of a way to introduce a full grown chicken into the coop of fifteen residents without anyone being the wiser.

We have been told to introduce them overnight.  Simply sneak the new girl in come the middle of the night and everyone wakes up with complete amnesia.  Jill recommended that we rearrange their surroundings as well so they think they are in a new place all together.  I still had a nervous feeling that we would wake to full blown chicken fighting come dawn.  We had switched the dog kennel that was still in the coop with the one Shirley was in when we came home.  We gave her food and water but left her door closed.  After our movie ended late, we snuck out quietly into the coop, careful not to rouse the girls, as any time of day or night seems to be a good time to eat for them.  We moved their food over there, their water over here, this moved there, and that over here, and opened Shirley’s cage door, said a prayer, and went to bed!

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This morning I shot out of bed at dawn when I heard Henry announcing his waking up.  I went to the coop.  No one even noticed the petite brunette eating side by side or dust bathing.  She and Laverne have already become buddies and we now have another chicken instead of two goats.  We’ll try again on the next homestead (with extensive, sturdy, possibly electric fencing!).  I guess chickens are more our pace on this rurban farm….for now.

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