Category Archives: rats

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.

old-door

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.

frame

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.

maggie

The Chicken Mom

Rats and Chickens and Leptospirosis

Most of the time, (and I mean “most”), we are rat free and have no problems with them. Almost unavoidably at times though, we do end up with some happy little critter who overrides  my attempts at keeping it that way.

With that tagline established, lets go ahead now with… My yesterday.

Honestly, I felt magical yesterday and with that energy in place, I felt like I could undo the whole worlds problems. I decided to go ahead and clean the chicken coop. This is not an easy task. It had about 8 months of smutz which needed to be cleaned.

Inside the coop, I also have a small enclosure for my quail. It’s four feet by nine and six feet tall. Its a pretty secure pen with a walk in door. I established this area to keep out vermin, of one or more types… One type was rats. They would happily eat quail. Those little tiny bundles of feathers (not the brightest birds I’ve ever had either), just do not have any real defenses other than running. So protecting them was up to me.

I do not care what you do to try to provide a safe environment, something along the way is going to show up and piss on your party. Trust me…  You will have to rethink almost everything you do, every single time you (erroneously) think you have a good workable plan. Usually this happens way after you have already built it or made it or purchased supplies, then realize you screwed up, yet again.

Inside the chicken coop area, a happy little animal was making a nest, right next to the quail pen. Now, come on, it’s only about 2 inches wide!! That tiny space? Well, crap! Id’ watched it being built a little at a time. I wasn’t really sure what was doing it, but I sorta figured it was a rat. I wanted to get it moved before they could establish a home. Rats are not good for the hens, and not good for any human who goes inside the chicken coop.

I need to give my husband real credit for not wanting to murder me. Mostly because, everything I ask him to help me build, is either moved, or changed within six months. Ah well…

I point to the ever increasing nest which is being slowly built and tell him, “Honey this wall of the quail pen has to come down”. He exclaims how much effort that will take (and I assure you, long before I asked his help, I had already calculated the effort it would take, and the backlash of words I’d have to hear about it, before it got done).

He finally sees no way around it either, so we begin the massive undertaking, that meant we had to remove a full third of the pen to get to that 1 wall. Sigh…

Finally, the wall is down and we can begin to pull out the sticks, leaves, feathers, and debris, the animal had collected. Then out came the rats! AH! I actually, laughed but my husband was freaking the fuck out. He screamed loudly something I didn’t understand, and I was giggling as I was saying, HEY! RAT! LOL He said, “don’t yell!”, “I’m not yelling honey… I’m laughing at you dancing around”!  This wasn’t my first time experiencing this problem, but it was his. I usually handle things like this myself. LOL  (Yes, I’m actually laughing-out-loud now, for real). You would have laughed at him too. Especially, when he realized he was the one yelling and not me. (ha ha ha)…

The rats ran. He danced. I giggled and lifted up my foot as a rat dashed under me. Hens chased rats and cackled loudly. Yep, it was pure pandemonium. Mass confusion in one second broke out. I was still smiling. I’m not sure why, except this scene reminded me of something ridiculous, Lucy would do to Ricky on the old TV show, “I Love Lucy”.

With the rats gone, we were free to keep cleaning out that mess. Finally; it was all gone. Ah, good; now to keep taking down those other walls. With the frames of wire carried outside, I began to wash them off and free them from urine and poop the rats left behind.

This took me a while, and when I was busy washing them off, I heard quite a commotion in the chicken coop. When I went to investigate, it seems the hens found a bunch of little rats. Well, crap. I didn’t see them! Come to find out, they had become subterranean. Well, there wasn’t anything I could do about it now. They were goners.

This is where I add a little note of warning for you.

Even as lighthearted I try to make posts, this one is very serious. Rats can be carriers of a bacteria, (Leptospirosis is caused by spirochaete bacteria belonging to the genus Leptospira.) which can kill you. It is transmitted to humans by coming in contact with infected animals, usually through urine or feces. Which is why I was washing off everything…

” Rats, mice, and moles are important primary hosts—but a wide range of other mammals including dogs, deer, rabbits, hedgehogs, cows, sheep, raccoons, opossums, skunks, and certain marine mammals carry and transmit the disease as secondary hosts.”

Just imagine touching everything in your chicken yard. Yep, a Rat has likely walked on it, or peed on it or pooped on it. Kind of disgusting, but it’s the facts. It is also why I wear gloves and cover my feet. No Flip-Flops!

Also, another reason I am typing this out, is so that you know, and protect yourself and your family, and pets. I wish we’d known sooner than we did. My Father died from complications from Leptospirosis. That’s another story, from long ago…

OK folks!  Get RID of those Rats Nests!

 

The Chicken Mom