We have chickens. These aren't just any chickens, they are super fancy, fluffy chickens. On April 2nd, our "little girls" were born. We drove to Granbury and picked out three little chicks. After taking the advice of a friend, we chose three different colors (so we could tell them apart). Each of the boys picked a chick and named her. Big kid picked a white one and named her "Fluffy". Middle Kid chose a black chick and named her "Amy" (I have no idea). And, Little Kid picked a partridge colored chick and named her "Patty Partridge". Ok, really, I named her. Little Kid didn't speak at the time.
We brought all of the little girls home and set up a cardboard box and a heat lamp in the garage, where they lived for six weeks. Daily, we would take the chicks out into the yard for a little sunshine and exploring. We had one rule: Don't let the dog out! This system worked pretty well. Until. It didn't. One of the big boys accidentally let our dog, Gracie, out of the house, who promptly bolted like a torpedo toward the baby chicks. While Gracie did not bite Amy, she did chase her into a corner, where she got her head stuck and broke her neck. Crying, we secured Gracie back in the house and buried Amy.
Of course, it wasn't very long until the kids were asking to replace Amy. We drove the hour back to Granbury, picked out a new chick with the same hatch date, Amy #2, and drove the hour back home. Patty and Fluffy welcomed Amy #2. At six weeks, the little chickies moved to their new coop in the backyard. My husband was overjoyed to finally have his half of the garage back! I was still terrified that we would have another incident with our dog, so we acquired a giant dog kennel from my parents and removed the bottom tray in order for the girls to have access to the grass. This was their day pen. But, this was not what I envisioned when we thought about getting chickens. My plan was to have the girls roaming about the yard, pecking and fertilizing as they went.
When the chicks were a couple of months old, I started having suspicions that Fluffy may not actually be a little "girl". My suspicions were confirmed when we were out of town for two weeks in June and our chickens were staying with a friend. I received the following text from my friend, "You have a crower. No kidding. He crowed a little baby crow about seven times this morning. Funny, and not at the same time." (What is it with my pets having these life-changing experiences when I'm out of town? See here
.) You see, she also lives in the middle of the city. According to city statutes, you are allowed to have up to twelve chickens; however, they are kind of frowned upon by homeowners associations. Chickens are frowned upon, much less crowing roosters, waking up the neighbors at 6 o'clock in the morning. When we returned from our yearly pilgrimage to North Dakota, we promptly found Fluffy, the rooster, a new home on a farm in Glen Rose. An actual farm, not the "farms" where problem dogs sometimes go.
About a month ago, in the dog days of summer, the girls needed to be able to roam wherever they could find a cool spot. So, dutifully, I would make sure the back door was locked up tight and whenever Gracie needed to go out, I would take her on a leash. I noticed something unusual. She did not seem aggressive at all anymore toward the chickens. They were bigger now and she had been looking at them in their day pen for months. The curiosity had worn off. After a few weeks of taking her on a leash, I decided to give it a shot with no leash. I cautiously positioned myself between Gracie and the girls, but to my amazement, she just went about her business and didn't pay them much attention. I am happy to report that now we have what I envisioned. The chickens and Gracie share the backyard and, for now at least, nothing bad has happened. Well, that's not true. Gracie did discover that she is not a chicken and should not eat their food, resulting in her throwing up all over my living room. By the way, it took us a while to figure out where the smell was coming from because Middle Kid covered the vomit with a couch cushion. Thanks, Middle Kid.
Now, all of my dreams would come true if Patty and Amy (#2) would stop pooping on my patio and start laying some eggs!