Raptor party

After spending a few days watching over my new chickens I realized something: chickens suck. Owners on the backyard chicken forums (they exist) spoke of birds with personalities, who came when you called, and perched on your lap. Turns out these people are just crazy cat ladies who have chickens instead. These things were pretty stupid and boring.

This is what a chicken does for most of the day: poops, scratches at dirt, pecks the ground, squawks, sits on things, shits on things, flaps its wings, walks in that head bobbing way that makes you want to sing “walk like an Egyptian.”  Occasionally the birds would charge at each other, puffing up fluffy chest to fluffy chest, trying to establish the pecking order. When they were out in the yard and one bird found a bug that the others wanted, the other two would chase it around the yard trying to steal it. That was about the extent of entertainment my poultry provided. I really need to get cable.

While watching the birds roam around the yard I couldn’t help but notice their similarities to dinosaurs. Many of my formative years were spent drawing t-rexs, triceratops, parasaurolophuses, and liopleurodons. At the height of my dino-mania not only had I seen Jurassic Park five times in theaters, I wanted to be a paleontologist. Many scientists accept the theory that certain dinosaurs evolved into birds. Looking at a dino like a struthiomimus versus a modern day ostrich, it’s easy to see the similarities.

It’s an entirely other thing to be able to accept it.

This means that my beloved-ed, fierce some, monsters of my childhood were nothing but giant chickens, literally. Imagine T-rex nancing around doing that jerky chicken walk, clucking as he goes. Now picture him with feathers. Lame.

Not horrifying

This also kills the scariness factor of Jurassic Park, the movie. Now they’re not being attacked by a rampaging beast but a big bird, complete with a bird sized brain. Suddenly out running velociraptors doesn’t seem so hard when you could likely distract them with a mirror or shoo them away with a broom. I mean, really Samual L Jackson, you got killed by a stupid bird? “I’m tired of all of these mother clucking chickens in this mother clucking power facility!” Doesn’t sound badass at all.

Total pussy

So for ruining one of my favorite movies as a kid, and my favorite childhood monsters- Urge to kill: 1 Point.

The next post “That cat was clearly CIA.”


34 inches

Actually I don't recycle

I brought my chicks home in a cat carrier.  For the first 4-6 weeks chicks need to be keep in  brooder which is basically any sort of set up that keeps them contained with heat source to keep them warm. The chicks need the heat since their feathers haven’t developed yet. Living in Florida, I wasn’t  overly concerned about them freezing. Hillsborough county recycling provided my  box. Equiped with an $8 metallic clamp on reflector lamp from Wal-mart (make sure the lamp can use a 100 watt bulb), a feeder, waterer, and a wire mesh shelf I found in the garage, my brooder was complete.

There’s a lot of information on brooders online. Suggestions on directing the light,  lowering the the temperature from week to week, and more.  Being ADD I did no such thing. The chicks were kept out on the warm patio and the light went on during our chilling 80 degree nights. Gauging the birds hot/cold ratio is simple; They’re panting= too hot. Snuggled up in a shivering ball-o-chickens=too cold.  The chicks didn’t die, so my under attentive methods worked.

Chicks in a brooder are pretty boring to watch, except for when they drink.  And since they have watched their friends get plucked out one by horrified one out of the brooder at the feed store, my chicks screamed and scrambled every time I put my hand inside the box. Not a real endearing feature of a “pet.” Urge to kill: 1 point.

Already bored, I decided to start work on building the chicken cube. I purchased six 6′ x 2″ x 1″ wooden boards at Lowes and had them cut in half creating twelve 36″ pieces. For the wire, I passed on the metallic variety and opted for a roll of plastic poultry fencing that was 3′ high and 25′ long. Armed with a nail and hammer, I put the cube together on my patio and wrapped it with the fencing.

Chicken Cube. Not as good as "Cube" and "Cube Zero"

A proud graduate of 8th grade wood shop class, I was impressed with dormant carpentry skills. Until I tried to get the cube off the patio.  The carpentry adage is “measure twice, cut once.” I cut first and measured nunce (new word.) For some reason it never occurred to me to measure the width of my patio door. After failing to squeeze the cube through, I finally measured. Thirty four inches exactly, on a 36″ x 36″ x 36″ design. Shit.

I kicked open the double doors leading inside the house and tried getting the cube through the garage door. Nope. Then I tried the front door. Denied. Apparently every f#$%ing door in America is a standard 34″ wide. I don’t think that will ever be a daily double Jeopardy question, but just in case, now you know.

Defeated, I resigned myself to the fact that my great plan for outdoor housing was stuck on the patio. Guess the chickens are living on the patio now.  I put the chicks in their new coop, plopped down on my patio couch, and as a chicken Caesar of sorts commanded “Entertain me!”

The next post: “How chickens ruined Jurassic Park

Quick before they’re all dead!

On April 11, 2011 I purchased three baby chicks who’s breed I completely forgot to ask about. Two yellow, one black, christened  Rizzo and the Barbies. My motivation behind the purchase was multi-faceted:

  1. I was bored. I tend to do random things when I’m bored, such as fly to Chicago for a baseball game, attempt ocean kayaking, or watch Oprah. It’s a good thing I decided to act before 4/20 or I would have likely purchased a baby pig like some friends in south Florida did.
  2. I was hoping to find a way to piss off my neighbor, with his confrontational wiener dog and annoying habit of leaf blowing his paved over front yard early every Saturday morning (I’m hungover dick!)
  3. So I could make fun of all the assholes clogging my FaceBook with Farmville updates. I’m a real farmer, you social media wanna bes!
  4. I’ve read countless articles and websites about the growing trend of backyard chickens. “Have your own fresh eggs!” they proclaimed.I wanted to try it so I could be hip and chat to other hip people over organic chai tea lattes while cruising farmers markets in my Prius, or something.
  5. Social experiment to see if I could ever actually kill a chicken. Prior to this the only thing I ever intentionally killed  was a lobster. That hobo in the alley…that was accidental.
  6. To learn more about an animal I only knew in plucked, chopped up, plastic wrapped form.
  7. To have something to write about.

Seeing as my first chicken died yesterday, I figured it was time to start writing before all I had to write about was my new compost heap.

My peeps!

The first question people ask is “where did you get them?” Chicks are available from a variety of sources on the web. Just hatched chicks are boxed up and shipped off to customers. The just consumed yolk provides the birds with enough nourishment to make it through the shipment with heat packs to keep them warm. Locally chicks are available from farmers (check Craigslist) or from feed stores.  I found Shell’s feed store selling chicks off of Nebraska Ave in Tampa. Normally you pick up a very different type of chick on Nebraska.

When purchasing chicks make sure to ask if they’ve been sexed. “Straight run” chicks means that they have not had their chicken junk inspected and it’s up to you to find out. Rosters are generally illegal in suburban settings so be sure to get a “pullet,” better known as a young hen. Sexed chicks go for $2-6 (I paid $3) with straight run chicks costing less.

I grabbed a 5lb bag of started feed, a feeder, waterer, and some pine shavings and was off. A stop at Lowes armed me with twelve 36 x 2 x 1 boards and 25 feet of plastic chicken wire. Armed with my chicks and my chicken housing supplies, I stopped off for an ironic lunch at Chick-Fil-A.

The next post: “Learning the universal measurement of every door in America.”