Saturday, July 9, 2011

#48 - Dogs and Chickens

Every morning I head out to the chicken tractor between 7:00 - 8:00am and let the chickens out for the day to roam in the backyard. But, I first give them a cup full of different feeds that are mixed in together. I carry out the large red plastic cup full of feed and take it to a little mound of dirt or to the patio stones where I sprinkle it so they can peck away in a morning chicken feast.

But, this morning, as I was walking to the dirt mound, surrounded by chickens running along beside me in their excitement because they KNOW this routine, I received a little shock. The head-honcho chicken I call "Big Mama" decided that she didn't want to wait until we got to dirt mound for her to get some of the feed in the cup I was carrying, and she flew upward and gave a robust PECK to the cup in my hand.

I yelled out in surprise, "You little stinker!" I can't believe that I didn't drop the cup right there in the tall grass.

My sweet chicken who "talks" to me...Miss Speckles.
This lesson taught me that the chickens are very aware of their routines. They knew what I was holding in my hand inside that cup way up in the air. Big Mama's aim was surprisingly like that of a sharp-shooter. She had that cup in her sight and was determined to get a head start.

Since I walk with a bamboo stick as a Shepherd's staff most often, to keep the chickens away from my red toenails, I usually have less trouble with them pecking at me. It can hurt. But, this morning taught me to be especially careful with that red cup.

In the afternoons, Deputy Dave feeds them. Usually, he gets home from work and gets in some chicken-time. It is relaxing, except when they are flying toward your face in an attempt to knock the feed out of your hand.

One other lesson I learned this week is that dogs will eat the chicken feed. My Australian Shepherd steers clear of the feed, not his preference, but my old dog, Big Red, she obviously loves the chicken feed. I had sprinkled the feed onto the dirt mound, then walked back inside for a moment. As I walked back outside, I found Big Red standing over the mound and basically siphoning up the feed as fast as she could inhale.

Here is Big Red on our acreage, trying to look innocent.
She will eat ALL the chicken feed, if we don't watch her.
Now I know, certain dogs will eat chicken feed.

Howdy does NOT eat the chicken feed. Lyla (Big Red) is the
culprit. But, we just discovered that Howdy DOES love ice-cream.
Both of our dogs are protective of the chickens, thank goodness. It took a LOT of training and very close supervision to instill the notion that the chickens are their "babies," but they've got it. Howdy, our Australian Shepherd is obsessed with watching over the chickens and with doing his best to keep them herded together inside our vegetable garden area.

Howdy, the chicken-herding dog.
The chickens are watching for bugs, Howdy is watching the chickens and that leaves us to watch the entire entertaining scene. Yes, I am going to love living on our farm land one day in the not-too-distant-future.


Charade said...

Very cute post. And I guess everything really is bigger in Texas, since you have Big Mama and Big Red. But don't forget, Big Daddy lives with me in Missouri (smile).

Lana at said...

Charade - that cracks me up! Since this is my first flock, they ALL look big to me! haha Except for adorable Miss Speckles. We are actually very fortunate that we seemed to have purchased breeds that are on the kinder side of the aggressive chicken scale, supposedly. Missouri has Big Daddy, it's on the record!!! :-)

LindaG said...

Great photos and some great stories. You say that Howdy keeps them in the garden so they can hunt bugs. Be sure you don't have tomatoes. Especially red tomatoes... ;)

Happy Sunday!

Anonymous said...

Check out the main ingredient in dog food....corn.
I might try putting the feed down BEFORE letting the girls out. They may all start that jumping thing...and their toenails will scratch you.
Also, a different color of toenail polish might may be the key. Beth

Lana from Farm Life Lessons said...

Hey Linda --- I do have to watch those tomatoes because the chickens were indeed pecking at as many as they could find. Deputy Dave had to take more chicken wire and wrap a few of the plants. So, the birds still get to scratch around in the garden, but it's more difficult to get at the beefmaster and a few other tomatoes growing. It helps.

Hey Beth -- I know dog food has some same ingredient, but we've been buy the scratch and crumble feed and I was shocked at the lengths my dog would go through to get those CRUMBS into her belly! But, I've learned that she will do whatever it takes, so I feed them and do not let her out until I know the birds are finished. Or, I will stand outside with Big Red. I guess Big Red is the TRUE turkey!

Donna OShaughnessy said...

We have agreat Pyrnees who lays in the chicken yard watching our birds and protecting them from coyotes at night. Any feed she eats is well earned. Great chicken-pup photos