Mail Call: January/February 2013

Letters to the editor written by GRIT readers include a Michigan resident who wins a chicken coop from GRIT Magazine and GreenChickenCoop.com, master gardening ideas, how to raise chicks, the perfect pie crust from lard and more.


| January/February 2013



Training Dogs for Chickens

Ruby dutifully watches over the young chicks.

Photo By Debra Garner

Chick’n’Coop Winner

The coop arrived a couple of weeks ago, all set up except for the run. Dan and the other dude from GreenChickenCoop.com were wonderful. They were a bit surprised that a dozen university students and friends were here for the official arrival of “Deb’s Chicken Palace” (their title, not mine!). Everyone pitched in to get it off the truck and situated. I served lemonade and beer, and everyone was happy. A couple of students brought an acoustic bass and a horn, and they played salsa and merengue, and other fun music — including a piece called “The Chicken Coop Waltz.” My husband, Reid Hamilton, is the chaplain of Canterbury House, the Episcopal Ministry to the University of Michigan, so the second call I made to tell about winning the chicken coop was to one of the graduate students. They are all so excited about the chickens. It was great!

Then a couple days later, we drove to Muskegon, Michigan, and picked up 14 chicks — two each of seven different varieties, all a week old. So that makes them three weeks old, today. Not ready to live in their new digs yet, but great. We don’t really want 14, but we’re pretty sure at least some of them will be boys. I took lots of photographs the first week, a few the next, and tomorrow, hopefully, I’ll get some three-week portraits. We’re starting to take them out into the backyard grass to play around every day — except that now it’s gotten much cooler, and we’re still trying to keep them warm. They’re double the size they were, and they eat so much! They’re an absolute blast. One chick had a splayed leg that my husband noticed the first night home, and in the middle of the night, after reading on the Internet about what to do, I woke him up, and we “hobbled” its legs using an adhesive strip. For several days he worked hard to get it off, so he didn’t eat as much as the others. We took it off four days later, and his leg was strong and well. A day or two after that, he was chowing down like the others.

In a week or two, we’ll have the run set up, and they’ll be big enough to move into their new home. We’ve been working with our middle dog, Ruby, a Border Collie/Boxer mix, on her herding skills, and she completely believes they are her responsibility to care for. She’s got one heck of a nudge, and the birds love her. Our oldest dog, Max, a pit mix who is 14, isn’t too impressed, but gives them a quick kiss on the head when he’s around. We work with them every day, and, of course, the chicks will never be loose with them or loose in the yard if one of us isn’t around.

Just as with dogs, we really believe the fun we get from the chicks will far outweigh the hassle of all the precautions.

Debra Garner
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Congratulations, Debra, on winning the Chick’n’Coop sweepstakes! We’re glad you’re enjoying your new chicks, poultry run and feed, and we hope that they’ll have happy, healthy lives with your family. — Editors  





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