Straying Hens = Stewing Hens

We’ve had a chicken problem for the past few weeks. A small group of our layers decided they liked hanging out at the café far more than at the coop. I guess kitchen scraps are tastier than cow pies.

At first everyone thought it was kind of cool having the chickens wandering around. Customer loved it! Then the hens started getting aggressive. They would jump up on table and try to steal food. Plus, it’s just not sanitary. So we decided to take them back up to the coop.

Chickens are a pain to catch unless you nab them while they are roosting. Roosting basically means sleeping in the world of chickens. Ryan caught a bunch the other day and took them back up but a few found their way back down. So on Monday night I snuck up to the barn and caught them all. Steve and I returned them to the flock on Tuesday morning and by Tuesday afternoon they were back down at the café. I talked to Dean and he agreed the best and only solution was to turn them into stewing hens.

Roosting on the tractor

Roosting on the tractor

Wyebrook animals, be warned. If you don’t behave, you become dinner.


I went out to catch them last night, but could only find two of them. I wandered all around to all their usual haunts – the barn, the greenhouse, the trailers, the herb garden, the café – but couldn’t find the rest. I knew they liked to hang out in the greenhouse in the morning so I figured Steve and I could catch them then.

I wish there was a video of this. Me running all over creation chasing chickens. I’m sure it was hilarious. We’ll go ahead and call that a training run.

Once the chickens were captured, we set off to check on the calves and heifers. As we drove down the lane, I saw this:

20130926_0001Everyone see the problem? I hollered at Steve to stop. Thankfully we were on our way to set up a new fence for the heifers so we just set up a few along the lane and Steve calmly pushed this little guy back into the pasture. I still have no idea how he got out.

We set up a new fence for the heifers and while Steve moved them I started taking down the old fence. In the process I noticed that two of the three calves who were in the wrong pasture were right up along the fence looking at their friends across the lane. We’d left one of the gates open for them to get out into the lane (which was securely blocked at both ends so they could just run off). We were hoping they’d wander out and we could just push them through to the correct pasture. While they weren’t in the lane, they were close and I didn’t want to let the chance pass so I ran down to try and push them through.

It wasn’t easy. Ideally you want to work them along the fence with one person behind them and one person on the side to keep them from turning. Steve was busy so I found myself running back and forth in the woods to keep them hugging the fence and moving forward. Eventually they found their way into the lane. I called Steve to come open the coil springs into the proper pasture (I couldn’t do it because if I moved they’d run back into the pasture they’d just left), but before I got through to him they braved the shock and ran underneath. Three of our four wild card calves are back with the herd!

Thursdays are chicken slaughter day. Caleb couldn’t come until 3:00 so Steve and I didn’t have to catch broiler chickens until 2:30. We hooked up the clunker wagon and loaded it with crates and headed up to grab our birds. They were wild this week! Especially compared to last week when we caught them so early. They were flapping all over the place. It wasn’t fun. Probably the worst chicken-catching experience I’ve had. My hands and arms are covered in bites and scratches. But I’m still here with my head attached so I think I win.

As we came down the hill Steve noticed on of the tires on the wagon was wobbling. I stopped so he could check it. We were down to one lug nut. Yep. Our tire was barely being held on. We have no idea how long it had been that way. We need the cart so Steven found some nuts in the shop to carry it through the afternoon. Tomorrow he is going to the hardware store to get proper equipment.

20130926_0014Is Ryan back yet? Things fall apart when he isn’t around. Literally and figuratively. This week has been an adventure. Steve and I are having fun, but I’m ready for it to be over!



2 thoughts on “Straying Hens = Stewing Hens

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