Letters to the Editor: Raising Chickens and Bird Dogs, Haying Memories, and More

November/December 2016 letters to the editor include notes on raising chickens alongside bird dogs, raising guineas, memories of hauling hay, and more.

  • Lexie, the Llewellin Setter, is learning the ins and outs of being a bird dog on a chicken farm.
    Photo courtesy Brandy Roberts
  • "Praline" with her newborn chicks.
    Photo courtesy Brandy Roberts
  • Green bales of alfalfa hay at ranch setting.
    Photo by iStockphoto.com/lyndsikathleen
  • Chicken and guinea fowl on a sunny day outdoors.
    Photo by iStockphoto.com/peredniankina
  • I thought I’d share a picture of this “Jimmy Durante” tomato with you. Love your magazine!
    Photo courtesy Herb Aurand
  • These chicks hatched recently and are just a few days old.
    Photo by iStockphoto.com/lyndsikathleen
  • Close up image of a free range Ameraucana rooster chicken.
    Photo by iStockphoto.com/Lynn_Bystrom

Bird Dogs and Chicken Farming

I just read your editor’s note in the September/October issue of Grit (“New Life & Old Habits”). Congratulations on your new baby chicks as well as your Boykin Spaniel! I giggled to myself when you said "the next challenge is to get these birds home and teach Lou to leave them alone," because I know from experience that the struggle is real! We also raise chickens (and other birds) and have a Llewellin Setter named Lexie. It has definitely been an experience trying to teach a bird dog that she has to discern the difference between birds that she is allowed to hunt and those she has to leave alone.

We have 27 chickens, five ducks, 10 racing pigeons, and one goose, and as a pup she has definitely gone through a long period where she was absolutely crazed with what they were up to. There were times when she would even wake us up in the middle of the night just to go outside and check on them — only to be disappointed because they were in their coop by then, of course. She is now 8 months old, almost 9, and has finally started to calm down some. Her “daddy” uses quail to train her in the field, and she absolutely loves the time she gets to spend playing with her birds. But she still has her moments, and I'm not sure if we are quite to the point yet where I would trust her out in the yard with the birds for an extended period without supervision.

We know we will get there eventually, especially after she has her first hunting season and gets to experience in the field the true joy of what she was bred for. Anyways, if you ever feel like sharing your experience training Lou (or if you have trained previous bird dogs while owning chickens), or if any of your contributors would want to tackle an article about it, it would be a joy to read! I'd guess your family and ours can't be the only farmers and fellow dog lovers, upland game hunters, or waterfowl hunters who have experienced this or are new to the struggle of teaching something bird-crazy to leave certain birds alone.

Here’s a photo of Lexie and my favorite chicken, Praline, who just hatched three new chicks of her own!

Brandy Roberts
Tonganoxie, Kansas

Hardworking Childhood

When I was a girl, we hauled hay every summer. We had about 100 dairy cows. Not to mention the calves and other animals. There were six children in our family. Five of us hauled hay with our dad and mom. Mom got to drive the tractor while Dad was on the wagon, and we would pitch the hay onto the wagon and Dad would stack it. There were always hundreds of bales to get into the barn.

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