Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Learning as an Amateur Homesteader

As we begin building our homestead and as we add more animals to our little farm we're learning lessons I haven't read about in my homesteading books or blogs I follow.  I read books upon books and blogs upon blogs about homesteading, but nothing is quite like the experience of it.

I recently learned as a one-legger who can't run very fast, if at all; chasing down a chicken who has literally "flew the coop" isn't effective.  The feeling of helplessness and the inability to catch my run away chicken really upset me the other night.  Coraline had gotten out of our yard and was happily foraging in my next door neighbor's backyard.  However, our neighbor doesn't have a fenced yard and the neighbors who live across the street have three huge dogs that run free through the valley! I don't understand dog owners who don't believe in leashes.  I've never understood why dog owners think it's okay to let their dogs run around in other people's yards, and I am a dog owner!  Even walking my dog down the parkway, I don't really want other dogs running up to my dog sniffing him.  When I am in my front yard or going for a walk, Raz is on a leash, thank you very much.  Anyway, I had to call my husband home from a meeting to help me wrangle our chicken!  Most of my neighbors who were outside were just staring at me, and Glen, my next door neighbor was asleep as he works nights, so he couldn't help.  Even my neighbor who has chickens was watching the embarrassing display of tag between me and Coraline.

This same feeling of helplessness happened last Saturday when my friend Krista came to visit.  She brought her dogs to visit and enjoy the backyard.  However, the dog she thought would be least interested in our chickens was quite interested!  Interested in having my chickens for lunch, I think.  We let our chickens free range forage when we're home so our chicken yard gate was open as well as our chicken coop.  When we opened the backyard gate her dog ran straight for our chicken coop! First, let explain the sanctity of our chicken yard and coop.  I don't even let Rascal go into the chicken yard let alone the chicken coop.  The chicken yard and coop need to be a safe place; and the coop needs to be the holy of holies; un-touched by hyper dogs or any other predator for that matter.  The dog violated the sanctity of our chicken yard!

I came outside as Krista was holding all three of her dogs while Joseph was gathering up the chickens and putting them in their coop.  I was holding the bigger dog and he pulled and got away from me and took off running.  Most of the chickens were locked in the chicken yard at this time but two; Molly and Coraline.  Joseph found them hiding rather well in a bush in the back corner of our yard.  The dog saw Joseph grab one of the chickens and ran after the other!  Coraline! Not just any chicken by the way, our brooder.  At first sight of the dog, Coraline took off running across the yard and the dog took off after her!  He pretty much mowed her over, TWICE!  He managed to to bite a chunk of feathers from her belly and all I could do was yell and scream!  I couldn't chase after the dog!  I couldn't catch up to Coraline and grab her from the dog!  I felt so helpless and watching that dog hurt my chicken really made me angry!  One word kept coming to mind; LEASH!  Why weren't the dogs on leashes?

Honestly, I couldn't be mad at my friend or the dog for that matter; we didn't know her dog would react the way he did.  I learned a lesson that day though; I have to take extra precautions when it comes to protecting and taking care of my homestead because I am disabled.  I'm not going to be able to be quick on my feet to save my animals.  I need to make sure that I think situations through and I need to make sure I take care of my animals needs before I worry about guest animals, so to speak.

A bit of Coraline's bare tummy.  Most is covered by Joe's hands.
She looked plucked and ready to cook up for dinner.
Coraline:  Happy and back to laying beautiful eggs!
She was out foraging Saturday evening like nothing had happened!
She's a brave woman!  
   I've learned my lesson!  Keep control of my yard and animals by being extra careful about what is going on, and all dogs visiting my homestead will be on leashes until we really know how they will react to my beautiful chickens.


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