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24 01, 2014

Tales from the Dark Side (of the chicken coop) -Miller Farm Friday

By |2014-01-24T06:00:07-06:00January 24th, 2014|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A guest blog by Beekeeper Brian

Warning: The following story is a true account; only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

It also contains tales of death. If death of vermin upsets you, STOP reading now!

On Monday nights, Chicken Wrangler Sara teaches ladies about God’s Word. Therefore, I pull double farm duty.

Since my bees are snug in their hives, they are not a duty problem.

As you might remember, the chickens go into the coop when the sun goes down every night. However, a chicken wrangler or beekeeper has to go close the door to the coop. We haven’t been able to teach the girls to take care of that.

I went out to keep them safe and close the coop.

You would not believe that living in the city, we would have all kinds of uninvited dinner guest. Word should be out that there are no more dinner parties on the Miller Farm.

Yet, as I drew close to the coop door, I spotted the glowing eyes of an uninvited dinner guest—the chicken eating opossum! possumSnarling Virginia OpossumThis was the fourth opossum this winter that planned to have chicken as his main course!

In case you have never tangled with an opossum, once they find fresh food, they keep coming back for seconds.

Since Chicken Wrangler Sara was not at home to bring me a lead slinger (air-powered since we are in the city), I had to grab what was at hand – my flashlight.

Unfortunately, I only had the small one.

Fortunately, there is a nice rock right outside the coop, which would do the trick. Several hits later, the chicken thief was unaffected!

I needed to find something else. (Don’t be fooled. Opossums play dead, but they do have a very strong tail, which can be used to carry them some place to secure a bigger club.)

I grabbed his tail and hauled him out of the coop, heading for the woodpile. I grabbed half of a wooden bee pallet to use as a club. That was a little more effective at subduing him, but the rascal was still sniffing for chicken dinner.

I spotted a shovel blade by the shed and carried him to the other side of the yard to finish the deed with the shovel blade. It was crude but effective.

The hens were safe for another night, none the wiser that there’d been an intruder intend on eating them.

I posted on FB: opossums 0, Beekeeper Brian 4.

When Chicken Wrangler Sara arrived home, I told her of the evening adventure. All in a day’s work on an urban farm.

20 12, 2013

Hawk Saga Chapter 2 – Miller Farm Friday

By |2013-12-20T06:00:46-06:00December 20th, 2013|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Guest Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

A hawk is using our chicken coop as an all-you-can-eat buffet. hawk in tree

So far, the predator has carried off two of our bantams and tried to carry off a big hen, but apparently the hen was too heavy. The hen has tale-tell signs of claw marks on its back.

Another hen, named Little Gray Hen, died of unknown causes. I’m blaming the hawk.

Thanksgiving morning I looked out to see the hawk with another one of the bantams.  My husband took his pellet gun outside and the hawk dropped the hen and flew off leaving the deceased hen on the ground.

My son asked if there was such a thing as hawk bait.  Apparently, bantam chickens work great.

The hawk stayed away for a few days.

Then when I got home one morning this week, I heard a familiar cry from the chicken yard – “hawk, hawk!!!”

I raced out in search of the hawk, but couldn’t see it.

I saw no chickens either. Even the bantams were hidden under their coop.  All the big hens cowered under the trees.

As I checked on them, the hawk flew away. He’d been somewhere close by watching and waiting.

A friend recently asked me about the intelligence of chickens. I’m not sure about their intelligence but something allows them to sense danger when humans cannot see it.

There have been no hawk sightings in the past few days.

Just in case, the chickens are keeping an eye on the sky.hens watching-2

23 08, 2013

Family Resemblance – Miller Farm Friday

By |2013-08-23T05:47:16-05:00August 23rd, 2013|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|2 Comments

A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

We have several friends who have new babies in their family.  One is a first born and she looks like her father.  The other is the fourth girl, and she looks just like her sisters.

In our family, the two girls look like my husband and the boy looks like me.

When my parents and I arrived at their new home in Colorado, their neighbor came up to me and started to give me a hug then stopped short.  He thought I was my mother.  I assured him it was ok to hug me anyway.

fish face-2Besides the fact we are all making fish faces, there are definite physical similarities.

It is usually pretty easy to find the family resemblance in humans. Recently, though, I’ve noticed it in our chickens.  (Perhaps I spend too much time in the coop.)

See what you think…here are pictures of Crooked neck and her child, Samson and his child and a nameless barred rock and her child.

Can you tell who is related to whom?

hen1hen2

hen3hen4

hen5hen6

19 07, 2013

Silly Chicken – Miller Farm Friday

By |2013-07-19T07:15:24-05:00July 19th, 2013|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|2 Comments

Another blog from Chicken Wrangler Sara

Saturday morning I went to let the chickens out and discovered this:

hen in with chicks

A giant quail or a silly chicken in with the chicks.  Upon examination, I determined it was the latter.

The day before I noticed the cage door in the roof was open, but since this is the cage that requires a step up to reach, I’d left it open.   Oops.

A group of hens roost on top of this cage at night and apparently, this hen had fallen in.

I was headed to help with a garage sale at my school and so I didn’t have time to figure out how to get the chicken out. I left her there hoping she would not die of a heart attack.

She didn’t.

In fact, when I returned, she had managed to get out on her own.

I discovered that by using a stick, I could close the door without getting a cinder block to use as a step. Since then everyone has been where they are supposed to be.

I’m hoping that continues to be the case.

22 02, 2013

Chicken Slumber Party

By |2013-02-22T07:17:59-06:00February 22nd, 2013|Friday on the Miller Farm, Guest blogger, Judythe Morgan blog|1 Comment

A guest blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

I have previously mentioned how the adolescent roosters resemble adolescent boys, i.e. chest bumping.

Now that the roosters are no longer around, I have noticed how much the hens resemble adolescent girls. 

Without the imminent danger of the roosters forcing them to band together in self-defense, the hens are now picking on each other. The “pecking order” phenomenon is especially observable at bedtime when each hen has her spot on the roost.

However, I have seen some of the older hens chasing the younger ones around the chicken yard. This usually happens after I have thrown some kind of food.hens2

 

I keep telling them “Be nice to each other. You are all you have.” 

They aren’t listening – any more than adolescent girls listen.

Last night the hens were making all kinds of racket. Rachel, who had shut the coop door, was concerned that something was posing a threat. 

The sounds were reminiscent of the possum ordeal so I walked out with the flashlight.

The minute the chickens spotted me, they got quiet.

It reminded me of a girls’ slumber party. All manner of noise comes from the room, but as soon as mom enters – silence.

?????????????????

With the hens, I could at least go back inside knowing they were safe. You never know what girls at a slumber party are going to do.