Thursday, September 1, 2016

Chicken Update--Skunks, Eggs, and a New Dog

A little to my surprise, we successfully raised six chicks into pullets (teenagers) and then into hens. Desert Girl spends a lot of time with the chickens, and she can catch them pretty easily. She's also the best chicken herder in the family.

One day we were out walking and saw a skunk in the nearby meadow. On no! Skunks killed most of our last round of chickens, so we don't like them too much.

When I called for my husband, he was already chasing another skunk. It turned out they had used a nearby wood pile as a den. We've killed quite a few skunks this summer, but we still smell more.

I thought our hens would start laying in July, and fortunately they did. They weren't the most consistent layers, with sometimes only one or two eggs a day in the middle to latter part of the month. We did get some fun surprises, like double-yolked eggs (the one on the left in the photo above). 

When new or old friends come to visit, Desert Girl loves to show them the chickens. Kids who have never gathered eggs or touched a chicken are in for a treat. Here the girls play in the back of the truck with a chicken, who put up with it amazingly well.

We adopted a dog from a rescue shelter in early August. She's not quite a year old and it was apparent from the start that she would need some training around the chickens. We kept them separate, with either the dog or the chickens ranging free in the yard at one time. Then, one day when we were at the nearby swimming pool, the dog disappeared and returned with a chicken. It was obvious she wanted to play with it, but instead she killed it. Another day three chickens got loose from the chicken run, so when I came back from exercising the dog, she immediately went crazy about a loose chicken and killed that one too. We thought we would try and discipline her by tying the chicken to her collar. She looked appropriately shamed for awhile. Then she chewed the chicken off. 
Fortunately some friends loaned us a shock collar, and we're making more progress with that. It will still be a long time before the chickens and dog can conmingle, but maybe someday.

In the meantime, we try to give all our animals some good quality time. And those chicken eggs sure are delicious! The hens have turned out to be great layers, laying every day. I enjoy seeing them wander through the yard, and when we come out of the house they often run over to see if we have a treat for them.


Alica said...

Darn skunks!! I found one in my chicken pen one morning...I was reaching down to pick up an egg, and there was a skunk where the chicken was supposed to be!! Luckily I didn't get sprayed! We finally caught him/her with marshmallows, but there are still more around. Thankfully he didn't eat any chickens, but just eggs. I really hope your dog settles down! He's a nice looking dog! And your daughter looks so pleased with herself holding the chicken! :)

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