Last night my husband went outside to let the dogs have a final potty break and to check on the chickens. We were exhausted after a long, fun evening of playing cards with Deputy Dave's parents - until near midnight, way past our 9pm bedtime. Deputy Dave is standing in the backyard and the next thing I know, he pokes his head inside the open back door and yells, "Hey...hand me my flashlight."
Now, as I am heading for the flashlight on the kitchen counter the first thing I am thinking is that one of the chickens is laying in bits and pieces on the ground from an attack by a neighbor's cat. I hesitantly bring him the flashlight because I'm a little scared to see what the problem in the dark might be. Deputy Dave hurriedly grabs the flashlight and closes the back door, but I can't stop myself, I look through the glass panes of the back door to half-heartedly see what the commotion is about.
Right at this moment, I see the bright beam of the flashlight shine on top of the hatch door for the chicken coop and it highlights, like a Broadway dancer, a MOUSE frozen by stage fright. Immediately, my brain starts to send out jumbled signals that ping and pong off each other, and none of it makes any sense, so I simply turn in frantic circles inside the house by myself as I try to decide what direction my feet should be going.
|I was responding to the mouse like a chicken with its head cut off.|
I'm not getting rid of my chickens. I love having chickens more than I could have imagined, but these issues are Farm Life Issues that come with the territory. We can't have a feral cat in our backyard, so that's not an option. I've spoken with my husband about us not leaving the chicken feed out 24 hours per day, every day. I will GLADLY hand-sprinkle feed a few times per day to reduce spillage and to not have convenient rat food left out all night long.
|Just one of the wonderful times we've had with our chickens.|
My husband suggested that we sprinkle some chicken feed on the back patio every day as it seems that this would help the feed to be easily spotted and eaten so grains would not be left over by accident in the backyard grass. But, I was concerned that the back patio concrete surface might be bad for their beaks as they are pecking the grains. Then again, maybe it will help to dull a sharp beak?
I know that living on a farm will mean that I am confronting wildlife, but any time I can reduce the likelihood of rats and mice, I'd be on top of it. I've lived a life that has been heavily involved with wilderness and confronting many different creatures, however, I get mush-brain when I see a rodent. This will be a main hurdle for me to keep jumping.
|My husband taking a photo of me painting the chicken tractor|
as he stands inside the house. It's so hot outside that I am taking a break.
|In over 90 degree heat, full sun in Texas, painting the chicken coop.|
For chicken bedding in the coop, we are currently using hay. We switched from pine bark mulch to hay because of cost.
We discussed the possibility of setting rat traps on the outer sides of the coop at night-time, while the chickens are enclosed in their chicken tractor, to see if this helps reduce rodent traffic, then remove them every morning before they are let out to roam around the yard.
|Chicken tractor during construction by Deputy Dave.|
Suggestions are certainly welcomed. We are learning and I am concerned that I will starve my chickens to death by accident. I am a Mama at heart and the chickens look so healthy and sturdy, so I want to make sure that spreading the feed by hand every day is done in adequate amounts for continued health and to promote good laying hens. The coop is directly on the grass and we move it to a new spot once weekly, plus they get to roam free in the vegetable garden most days for a few hours. Still, I don't want to starve the little things.
I am going to be pro-active and try to think clearly about handling these yucky rodents being so close to my home.
My husband joked with me and told me that rats LOVE bright red toe-nails. He is not always so funny.
|After exploring unique ideas that my weird brain conjures, |
I decided upon my Masculine Bird to decorate the coop door.
I free-hand sketched, then painted this beefed up version
of Tweety - mine has muscles and chest hair.