May 15 2010

Goodbye, Marik

Our rooster Marik went to a new home yesterday.  

I kind of hated to get rid of him, but it was time. Our neighbors have never complained about the crowing; but I never complain about all the barking dogs in the area, and that doesn’t mean they never annoy me. I’d keep the birds in the coop until 8 or so every morning to muffle his early morning crowing, but that cut down on the amount of time they got to be outside catching bugs and stuff. Also, it seemed like he was getting more aggressive with the hens when I’d first let them out. Either he didn’t have enough hens to satisfy his roosterly needs, or being cooped up too long in the morning was making him crazy. He also attacked me (my foot, actually) the last couple times he got out, which didn’t bother me, but I did worry that he might end up attacking a neighbor’s foot.

In any case, it seemed like the best thing was to give him to someone who needed him more than we did. We put an ad in the paper for a free rooster and got about 10 calls, but it wasn’t until the fifth one that we got someone who wanted him and then showed up to get him. The hens seemed like they were looking around for him this morning, but I might have just been imagining that.

In other backyard chicken news, they’re still doing great. They’ve been steady producers of 4-5 eggs per day since they picked back up in February, and they look healthy as can be. Since the yard is still recovering from last year, I’m trying something a little different that we read about in a magazine, called “composting chickens.” The idea is that you throw all the stuff you’d throw into a compost bin into your chicken pen, and let them stir through it and break it down.

So far, it seems to be working great. We’re throwing all our plant waste and some grass clippings in there, along with straw and anything else they might like, and they just keep eating what they want and digging around in it and stirring it up. It also keeps the soil moist underneath, so they can dig down through it and catch worms and grubs that come up to the surface. It’s like a compost pile that stirs itself and makes eggs on the side.

Our yard is low in that area anyway, so if they can add a couple inches of nice compost to it, that’s great. I’ll let them do that, then move them to a new spot and seed down the old spot with grass, and keep moving them to spots that could use more soil.

Two other families we know are raising their first chickens this year, so interest is growing. There’s some work and a learning curve involved; but they’re fun, and they pay for themselves pretty well too.

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