Category Archives: Pest Control

The Chicken Yard Door

Almost everything seems to love a good chicken dinner. foghorn-leghorn-285

I’m a Chicken Hawk and you’re a chicken!

Most of my ‘chicken time’ I’m working on protecting my hens. I mean, I wake up thinking about them. Are they OK? Did they make it through the night? What new situation or predator do I have to contend with today????

A lengthy conversation with my husband about moving the door to the chicken yard into a new place, blew up into a weeks worth of investigating door construction, wire purchases, and door locking systems… Good God. What Have I Done? Sigh…

Oh wait! Let me tell you how damn long it took me to make him understand how important it was to have a secure, non-saggy door for a chicken yard. He never did understand this, until we lost a hen or five to predators. The saggy door, which he thought was sufficient to keep in hens, was not a deterrent for dogs, coons, opossum, owls or hawks.

Here we are, finally 7 years down the road from Day One, of building the chicken yard and coop. He gets it. He finally gets it. I don’t care how much investigating we have to do. I’m just thankful he is finally understanding, that you MUST have a very secure doorway to a chicken yard. You must have good strong wire. Nothing flimsy is going to work. Mainly, because it seems most things like to eat chicken…  I won’t even get into the fact that most things can dig under any door, no matter how sturdy. I sunk blocks in a trench under the door. Not noticeable, but present!

This is my old door. A hazard to any chicken alive living inside. It’s not a good shot, but the end of the door is where they chain-link ends up top.  It needed to have had a frame fitted with no gaps. OK, so that did not happen. Rookie chicken raising mistake…

Every neighborhood Raccoon and Opossum found a way inside. Please don’t lecture me about how Opossum do not eat chicken. They do. I’ve saved three of my hens this last month alone. When they can’t scrounge up food, they eat whatever they can grab. That includes a hen that might not be on her A-Game. Maybe she’s older and does not run as fast. Hens do not see well at night. They really don’t know all of what’s going on around them. By the time they have been grabbed it’s too late.


Here is the lovely framework for the new door to slip into, once the cement holding in the posts is cured.  Psst… Yes, I said cement.  I think, he is tired of losing hens to animals also. He has to bury them. I cry.. Yeah, none of that sounds fun.


You will be getting updates on the saga of The Chicken Yard Door.

Here’s a picture of Maggie. Just because. She’s a lovely, noisy Black Australorp hen.


The Chicken Mom


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Are Chickens For You?

With the daily life of dealing with 20-30 birds consistently, you really learn about them with hands-on expertise. What’s called OJT. Yep. No book is going to train you for all the stuff you will face with raising chickens. However, read them!

If you are squeamish, chickens aren’t for you, unless you excel in bravery, then you might get past all the poop-cleaning and sickness birds ‘sometimes’ have.

The first time I got poop on my hand I almost threw up. After five  years of chickens, I look at it and think, “Okay, I need to go wash that off” then get distracted and forget. Sort of like a Mom does with babies. After a while, you just aren’t moved much by it. You do what you  must do…

I do still make Stink Face though…. We all have one.


(I love this face)…

So, while I’m on the topic of POOP. . .

You are going to find yourself looking at a lot of it (POOP) willingly. Yes, you will! (Don’t make that face at me. 🙂  You’ll want to know what’s happening inside the bird, and frequently, that means looking at POOP. What does it look like? Runny? Solid? Wormy? … Who’s doing the squish bottom dance? They sort of walk funny when they have diarrhea. Just like anyone else who feels lousy, it shows in their walk and how they hold themselves. Yes, you are going to befriend the bottom of any chicken you have decided to keep.

The Happy Rump

The Happy Rump

Believe me, no one will come running to aid you in looking at the bottoms of your hens. It’s a YOU and THEM process, and you will become so adept at reading chicken asses, that you can tell almost instantly who’s not doing well,  who needs wormed, who needs medicine, who ate too much of the wrong thing.

All the magic happens on that end of the hen…  aqua egg
Study up on the reproductive tract of chickens, and also the digestion issues they have, and basic illnesses.  This is so much easier now that we have the internet! I mean the whole world is at your fingertips. Study, Study, Study!   – I did not study enough before launching myself forward, but here I am 5 years later, still with hens and for the most part, I haven’t killed any yet. 🙂 I’m studying a lot more now.

So, this isn’t my most glorious post about hens but let me tell you, it’s quite honest…

Much love to you readers out there!!

Chicken Mom

Defending the Flock

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Remember when I write, I tell it like it is. You  may not like it, or you may be disgusted by it. However, sometimes life is just sort of disgusting. You and I will both recover from the knowledge.

My sleep has been really off and on, since this lovely time change. Last night was no different. I nodded off on the couch, evidently I was so out of it, I was still there at 2:30 AM. Suddenly, I popped awake and realized I needed to tote my rump to bed. That’s when I heard a chicken…. My girls do not make any sounds at night, except the gentle cooing and mumbles which you can detect if you are standing nearby.

The chicken coop and yard, is about 20 feet from my living-room windows. I wanted them near me, in case they ever needed me, I might hear them. Well, I did hear them. Actually, I heard two hens quite loudly, and I was grabbing slippers (should have grabbed shoes), and then because the noise was getting louder, I was looking for anything I could beat off wild animals with (also, should have thought through this better). Of course, I find a broom! Oh, yeah, that’s going to work wonderfully… (NOT).

So, I’m running out the door, into the dark, swinging a blue broom handle, wearing slippers, PJ’s and gritting my teeth! I’m so full of adrenalin now, that I could kill whatever was messing with my ladies with my bare hands…

They are in panic mode now with full-blown yells and screams of pure fear. I bust in there with a broom and see a possum hanging on the wall just a few inches from my ladies. I whacked it soundly with the broom handle and kept hitting it, and hitting it. Then, it finally let loose and fell to the ground and started to come at me. My broom handle broke, so I looked for something else.  I find a hammer!(Yeah this ends badly. Can you tell?)


I took one solid swing at the possum and it fell. Once it was down I was not going to quit hitting it! (I mean we all know possums, “Play Possum”). They lay there pretending to be dead. Well, NO ONE attacks my hens and lives to tell about it. I smacked that possum with that hammer until I knew he was dead or dang near it.

I’m shaking so badly, when it’s dead, I don’t realize it’s about 45* outside and I’m standing there with a bloody hammer my fuzzy slippers and my short PJ’s. Not exactly the ‘picture of the year’, or a good Photo Op.

I just killed another living thing, while protecting my chicken kids… I’ve never really had to do that myself. I’m kind of in shock, beating it to death with a hammer. It’s then I realize that this thing has massive teeth and I was just 10 short inches from that gaping hole of a mouth, with  all those teeth. I never saw them… I didn’t care. It was going to hurt my girls! That could not happen on my watch. It didn’t. (Just so you know from my personal experiences; yes, possums will hurt chickens. Not nearly as quickly as a Raccoon, but yes they will do it).

The coop has a lamp to use in emergencies. I found the plug and turned it on. Slowly, I go around checking chickens and making sure no one is hurt or missing. Some are so terrified they are huddled in corners in the back of the chicken run 40 feet or so away from the coop. I go out there, pick them up and carry them into the roots, cooing over them and checking them out as we walk. My talking soothes them and my world begins to take shape again, into a form feeling more normal.

My Amazing human kids come out to see what the heck is happening. They heard the commotion as well. Most of the drama is over. Thankfully. It helped me relax hearing their voices. At least I had reinforcements, should this dead thing revive. They are offering help; I remember only vaguely.

Brian my Son in Law took the body of the dead possum and buried it, which I am thankful for. I had no stomach left for it. My Daughter Casey talked me down into a more normal state, helping me focus back to Mom, and not “She-Ra princess of power”, with a hammer. (I wish I’d had her sword)…


I really don’t know how to end this….

OK.  I’ve been asked if the girls were alright?  Yes, they were fine. Evidently, their sounds were what woke me up in the first place, so the possum had little time to cause damage.  They were traumatize and a couple eggs were prematurely dropped onto the coop floor, but nothing hurt them.

They are my friends, even if it sounds a bit dorky.

Chicken Mom Out…

Amazed Disgusted and Shocked

July 19, 2014

Amazed Disgusted and Shocked I need to warn you in advance, this is not for the faint of heart, OK? If you get squeamish easily, ya best click off and leave now.

Putting off the chicken coop cleaning was done for long enough! I’d fiddle-farted around most of the spring and the spiders and icky stuff was beginning to get to me (Insert disgusted face here (Really I wish I had one of those “insert face here” on this blog-post editor!).

Weekly, one needs to clean the shavings of poop, and then do general maintenance, of raking, picking up random bits of trash and god-knows-what, that the hens dig up in the yard. Then you have to clean up the storage area of the stuff you thought you wanted to keep and now find you can surely do without.

It’s all good, but it can wear you out. I’d let this go for several weeks now and was sort of tired with all the catching up I’d done for the last hour.

Along with the usual cleaning, I also decided to do that Spring Cleaning, I skipped doing! I’m going to hate myself in the morning, I can tell already.

When my husband brings me the pressure washer, I’m elated that I get to blast the shit out of stuff with water, but appalled at the thought of how much my arms are going to hurt in the morning. I begin by washing down the walls, back corner, then out to the front corner. After that, I blast the roof where the spider webs are! If you are as arachnophobia prone as I am, you know that you would also back out closer to the door, one step at a time, while you blast away. Just so you don’t end up with an unhappy spider landing down your shirt…

 As I finish up the coop area, I move over to the nesting area where they work their magic laying eggs. It’s pretty dusty in there and thankfully the girls are finished laying. With the exception of one hen laying claim to that area, it’s free and clear. I move the grumpy broody hen out-of-the-way, for now. She officially hates me, at the moment… =/

I take down the nesting boxes which are held in place with Zip-Ties. I can always put them back when I’m done washing the area down.

When I do that, and move a bit of plastic which had fallen down on the floor, a passel (a bunch) of baby rats scrambled out of the area. They shot everywhere! Left, Right, Between my feet, Over my feet… It was pandemonium in that place!! About that time, the hens saw the scrambling baby rats and …. well…. Nature took it’s course…

I’d never seen so many chickens running around with rats for dinner in my life! It was disgusting, disturbing and fascinating! I didn’t want to watch, but like a soap-box show on TV, you just can’t miss what’s going on. I knew that chickens ate other critters. I’d seen them devour snakes, and kill other animals who had the distinct misfortune of finding their way in the coop; like a squirrel and a few birds, and random mice. I had never seen them GULP down a whole baby rat before. Kill something yes, but Eat it? Ick… Dear God. I was now damaged goods. You just can’t unsee some things…

With that said, I was totally fascinated with how they beat the snot out of them, then swallow them head-first. The fights that broke out in the coop, I was powerless to change, except maybe push them apart; which I did. I even moved some of the small dead rats into a hole so I could bury them, but the hens took them out before I could get the others collected.  I finally gave up and said, FINE! Eat Rat!  They did….

And they ate and ate and ate….  What they didn’t eat they left half dead, and I had to finish off the little rat babies.

Can you imagine what that did to me? Dear God, I wanted chickens but not this! Just one more thing “they” don’t tell you when you decide to have backyard chickens. You can read up on this, till the cows come home but you aren’t prepared for the real life with chickens (another blog of mine).

By now I’m pretty shell-shocked and just keep clicking photos, so you can live though my experiences. It’s not always easy, lemme tell ya! Below are more (yes graphic) photos of the hens enjoying Rat, a la carte’. This tiny New Hampshire Red pullet, is only 12 weeks old and she’s a master of killing and consuming baby rats. It’s kind of unnerving to think that I could be dinner as well, if I ever passed out in the coop. =/

 This young Red SexLink was one of the most persistent and aggressive. No sooner than I removed a rat from her, she found another one, or grabbed the one I had, back in her beak. She was so determined to eat it, I finally just gave it back to her, and grabbed my camera.

OK One More… Don’t say I didn’t warn you…   You just can’t Un-See some things… ♥The Chicken Mom♥