23 11, 2012

Raiding Possums, Scary Times at the Miller Farm

By |2012-11-23T08:26:47-06:00November 23rd, 2012|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

I have a confession to make.

Sometimes, especially if it is raining, we do not close the door to the chicken coop at night. The chickens don’t know the difference and some nights we are just too tired to walk out there.

This has all changed after last weekend.

I was getting ready to get into the shower on Sunday morning when I heard a lot of racket coming from the chicken yard. I’m accustomed to hearing the roosters and can, in fact, distinguish which rooster makes each “cock a doodle doo.”

This was, however, a hen making the racket. She sounded very distressed so I knew something was amiss. I grabbed a flashlight, put on my muck shoes and headed out to the chicken yard.

As soon as I left the garage, I knew there was trouble.

A large number of the birds lined the fence looking very scared (at least I’m guessing it was a scared look on their faces.)

Something had gotten into their coop and they were trying to get away.

Had it not been 5:45 a.m. and my brain still foggy, I might have thought more about rushing into an unknown situation. All I could think about, though, was my poor chickens and how I had left them vulnerable by not closing the coop.

As I approached, I could see the announcer hen still squawking at something in the corner.

A possum and it was eating a chicken!

Not wishing to add “possum wrangler” to my titles or face-off with a possum and his breakfast, I headed back to the house for my husband. He reached for a hand gun, but I reminded him it would be illegal to fire in the city limits. He grabbed a BB gun instead, and we went back outside.

Fortunately, possums do not have a “flight” instinct and in fact will freeze when they are frightened (think deer in the headlight look). So when we got to the coop, Raider Possum was still there.

Beekeeper Brian was able to put enough BBs into him that he will not be eating any more of our chickens nor will he be able to tell his friends where to get a free meal.

As we retold our morning adventure, we did get asked several times if we were making a meal out of the possum. (The answer is a resounding “no.”)

With the danger eliminated, we coaxed the chickens back into the coop. They may have bird brains but they remembered there was something scary in that coop and balked when we tried to herd them back inside the chicken yard.

We picked each one up and placed it gently into the coop. As we lifted them, they cried out what sounded like “Ouch, Ouch.” We got as many as we could back into the coop and shut the door until the sun came up.

The chickens seem to have no recollection of the events and have gone back into the coop every night since. All except for one black hen who slept on top of the quail cage for several nights.

Now, every night, we shut the door to the coop and tell the chickens:

“Good night, sleep tight and don’t let the possums bite.”

I had to laugh over her caution to the chickens. You see, when she was little we often sent her off to bed with “Sleep tight and don’t let the bed-bugs bite. 

Strange saying, but evidently founded in the fact that bedbugs were once real threat  and have recently made a comeback.

All I meant was for her to have a good night’s sleep, which worked for Chicken Wrangler Sara and her siblings. I hope it works for the Miller farm fowl.

It has been a rough week at the Miller Farm. Chickens facing raider possums. Thanksgiving Turkey’s roasting. The fowl must have felt like they were watching a horror movie.

YOUR TURN: How do you pick yourself up after a horror movie week or day?

10 08, 2012


By |2012-08-10T10:51:10-05:00August 10th, 2012|Friday Free Day, Uncategorized|9 Comments

The Millers are Sara, my daughter, and her husband, Brian, who have a mini-farm at their home in Aggieland. For my non-Texan readers, that’s Bryan/College Station, Texas. That’s right, in their backyard, a chicken coop with nine “Easter Eggers,” a few Barred Rocks, a couple of Black Copper Marens, a few black and few gold sex links, some Bantams and  twenty-five American Game Birds. The rest are Barnyard Mutts. All give eggs that are truly delicious!

Part of their backyard also houses beehives. More about dealing with bees and fresh honey in future posts.

You’ll also find four miniature daschunds – Tucker, Bella, Sadie and Coco, one mixed breed dog name Marvin, and three teenager children—two girls and a boy, who wish to remain anonymous, on the Miller farm.

Sara, the chicken wrangler, writes such entertaining emails about life on the Miller Farm she should start her own blog. She won’t. That’s why – with her permission, I’ll be sharing the humor and fun of being a city farmer from her emails on Fridays.Today: ROOSTER RESCUERS  (my comments and additions in blue)

Yesterday afternoon I (aka Sara, chicken wrangler extraordinaire) went out to check on the chickens and gather eggs (what few eggs are being laid in this heat). (Texas, like a good part of the country, is experiencing unending days of triple digit tempearatures.)

One of our roosters was laying under the coop looking not so good. I tried to entice him out with bread but alas, he didn’t move. I grabbed him by the legs, an action which usually results in much fussing and flapping. However, he came out with nary a sound. I laid him by the water, hoping that he would perk up. After I checked all the other birds, he was still lying there and the other birds were starting to pick on him.

Being the rooster lover that I am, I could not tolerate that and gently carried him to the garage where I summoned Dr. Brian (her husband, who, btw, is NOT a veterinarian but a school psychologist). Drawing from all his vast avian veterinary experience, he proclaimed that the bird had heat exhaustion.

I carried him (the bird, not Dr. Brian) to the living room where he laid in front of the fan which I have been told is the best remedy for heat exhaustion in humans so it has to work for birds – right?

Throughout the evening Mr. Rooster laid still raising his head just often enough to let us know he was not quite dead yet. When it was time for the humans to retire, we decided he needed to be contained in case he had a miraculous recovery overnight.

I put him in a cage and went to bed feeling quite comforted by the fact that we were just like all our neighbors who had roosters sleeping in their living rooms.

The next morning Mr. Rooster was much more alert and holding his head up. I put some water in his cage which he promptly spilled all over. At this point, he was making such a mess I moved his cage to the front yard.

After caring for all the other chickens, I moved him back with his flock where he stepped out of the cage on his own. He hung out by the water for a while and when I last checked, Mr. Rooster was walking around pecking the ground as chickens are prone to do.

I would say we have successfully snatched a rooster from the jaws of death earning the title Rooster Rescuers.

Sara might be okay with a rooster in her house. I’m not sure I’d be willing to set up a rooster infirmary in my living room. Would you?