How to Catch a Flock of Feral Fowl

| 2/6/2013 10:56:51 AM

Tags: Chickens, Hens, Layers, Escape, Catch, Cait Carpenter,

CaitSometimes when you order chickens, you are sent the wrong breed, variety, gender, or whatnot. So, when you order slow and steady Cornish Rock crossbred broiler chickens from an unnamed hatchery, instead you will receive some beautiful, flighty, and high strung purebred white-laced red heritage Cornish birds. While these birds are a lovely addition to your farm, you will find that they do not grow at the unnatural and alarming rate that the broilers do, thus leaving your farm market customers without fresh free-range chicken for a little while.

Because your customers are understanding, they are okay with missing a few weeks of chicken deliciousness, and the pretty Cornish’s lives are spared. Despite your parent’s concerns, you decide to keep these lovely young birds because, well, the current layers are approaching the age of old folk’s homes and may begin receiving their pensions soon, so replacement layers might be nice. Never mind that the websites all state that Cornish are not layers, ignore the fact that they are noted as being poor foragers, and forget the fact that these birds aren’t designed for cold weather habitation and your barn is not heated.

You embrace your new heritage chickens. You devise a business plan of hatching eggs from these rare birds and invest in a very cheap and unreliable incubator (it was on clearance, what can you do). After all, if you hatch enough of them, they might make nice meat birds for next year!

They grow. And grow. And grow. All of a sudden, they morph from adorable little half-grown widgets to three-quarters-grown monstrosities with long legs and teenager proportions. Worst of all, they have developed a habit of springing out of their brood box and racing across the floor, earning the name of “Crazies”. They will never be referred to as the Cornish again.

After a couple of months, the Crazies graduate from home living to the great outdoors. The young men grow into very handsome roosters. The most beautiful one is viciously murdered by the Nitwit Neighbor’s black standard poodle, so the second favorite remains as the superhot stud and the rest are sent away to a nice freezer somewhere. The young ladies are incorporated into layer pen to promptly enter womanhood.

Unfortunately, these birds will not enjoy womanhood. The sister wives band with their leader, Big Red, and literally fly the coop. A large pine tree in the yard becomes their new home. Night after night they roost in the tree. They are impossible to catch and begin to lay eggs, quite prolifically (take THAT Wikipedia), under the processing shed, right out of reach. Winter is approaching, and the months long outdoor party must soon end.

mary carton
2/12/2013 2:23:50 AM

Sounds like our guinea hens. They used to roost in the pine tree in the front yard. Welcome to GRIT community. I blog as Rosedale Garden.

chuck mallory
2/11/2013 5:20:42 PM

Very funny! Welcome to the Grit blogging community. Nice to have some crazy humor here. I haven't raised chickens but will someday. Meanwhile, I'll live vicariously through you!

cait carpenter
2/9/2013 6:02:16 PM

Thanks, y'all! Glad you enjoyed my first blog post, really looking forward to becoming a part of the community here.

heather jackson
2/8/2013 3:41:35 PM

I love it Cattle Cait! I'm glad you caught some of them anyway. We had trouble with crazy Guineas up a neighbor's tree last year, so I feel your pain! Good luck and welcome to Grit!

nebraska dave
2/7/2013 11:51:49 PM

Cait, welcome to the GRIT blogger community. Your experience with chickens was quite the adventure, huh. Some folks will clip the feathers on one wing so they can't fly but then it leaves them open to predators. I hope your next round of chickens work out a little better. Have a great chicken day.

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