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Backyard Chicken Antics

Having four chickens live in your backyard is a little ridiculous. Case in point: right now three of our hens (Inky, Bumble, and Boo Boo) are molting, and it looks like a gigantic pillow fight took place in our yard. The feathers swirl around in the breeze and get stuck in the most unlikely of places, including my hair.

We allow the girls to wander the backyard, where they snack on grass, roost on our ladder, and do their best to destroy our vegetable garden. Right before my birthday party in July, we installed a wire metal fence to keep the chickens and our dog, Domino, out of the garden. The girls had been inviting themselves in to sample the lettuce, snack on bean shoots, and generally wreak havoc. And Domino decided that digging up the carrots would be fun. Twice. So up went the fence and I was happy for approximately six hours. Then my dad reported he had seen our Araucana hen, Clyde, squeeze her fat body through the four-inch holes in the fence and head straight for the vegetables. So much for our fortifications!

And last week, while I was harvesting some tomatoes, I glanced down and saw a pile of three eggs. Apparently the girls have decided that the plush confines of their coop aren’t good enough; they’d rather lay their eggs in a hollow between two kohlrabi.

Silly? Yes. But discovering the eggs made my day.

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14 Responses to “Backyard Chicken Antics”

  1. 1
    Austin Says:

    Hehehe, this story made my day. Thanks! How often do the ladies tend to lay eggs?

  2. 2
    robin Says:

    I’m so torn on the chicken question for my garden. I really have a love-hate thing with chickens. To have or not to have (in my garden) its a perennial question…

  3. 3
    laura Says:

    Ironically, chicken wire was our dog solution. One of the dogs had a serious affinity for onions (which not only annoying, but toxic for her as well!). I can’t say that I recommend chicken wire, though–it just doesn’t hold up well. I am envious of your dog/chickens coexisting happily! Enjoyed reading this post.

  4. 4
    Leigh Says:

    Oh man. The picture of Domino with one of the girls might be the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Ever. My nephew rocks! Great post, Willi :)

  5. 5
    Robin Says:

    Listening to you on KUOW and reading Diggin Food posts has convinced me to get chickens. My husband used to have two. That is our goal for next year! I hope my two boxers, Kraken and Circe, will get along with them like Domino does! Thanks, Willi.

  6. 6
    Willi Says:

    Teaching Domino to coexist with the chickens was a pretty straightforward process, but it took about three weeks. Here’s a link to an article I wrote on training a dog to live with chickens:

  7. 7
    Karen Says:

    Your chickens (and dog) are adorable! I have major chicken envy. Does having them free-ranging ever worry you, with neighborhood dogs and raccoons about? Or do you shoo them into their house at night and figure your dog keeps them safe during the day?

  8. 8
    Willi Says:

    We typically only let the girls free range while we are home, so we can keep a close eye (and ear) out for them. Our dog has chased off raccoons and cats, and their coop and run is very secure. But, yes, I definitely do worry about predators! We have a coyote, bald eagles, hawks, possums, rats, and raccoons in our neighborhood.

  9. 9
    Josina Says:

    Glad to read I’m not the only one who has the ‘to let roam, or not let roam’ dilemma when it comes to the chickens. They just look so happy pottering around the garden and leaving surprises here and there. We went off on holiday for 2 weeks in spring and when we got back we discovered 8 new chicks: one of the hens had been quietly stashing away eggs in a secret spot.

  10. 10
    Emily Says:

    chickens will be chickens. ha!

  11. 11
    Don & Marilyn Says:

    We’re looking for an AFFORDABLE non-sprouting wild bird food … Woodinville -”Waste Not” (cracked hulls) is choice … but their bags have just jumped from ~$25 to ~$40/bag.

    Would wild birds eat chicken feed? If so, where in Seattle can you get some chicken feed? And … I’m sure 4 you, a long shot … but we’re in Mt Baker ‘hood, so more south end preferable.

    Thanx! (If you dunno, no response necessary)

    We’re avid KUOW garden’ Listeners. Have itty bitty Green Roof over (continuous construction) of kitchen addition over 5000g Cistern & Fountain (water garden) & Jungle of garden in Yard & plant strip.

    Thanx again!
    Don & Marilyn

  12. 12
    Jasmine Says:

    Very nice post, I share the same position about this.

  13. 13
    katiemearns Says:

    How long do chicken live? We have ours for about 5 years. Their plumage has changed this year they seem to look older and they have been laying less this year.
    We plan to keep them to the end of their natural life but I’d like to be prepared.
    Also can you introduce Chiclets to an already established flock?
    Thank you

  14. 14
    ann Says:

    yeah-they will eat up a sprouting garden in seconds….but an established garden will benefit from the chickens eating bugs.

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