So its turns out these chickens attract more predators than Chris Hansen.  Unbeknownst to me multiple critters were waiting outside my backyard gate bearing flowers and wine coolers hoping for an easy score.

“Mr. Fox, what were your intentions showing up here today?”

“What? Whoa, we were just going to play Xbox and talk about Twillight.”

“So you didn’t instant message ‘I want to wear your insides like a mask and dance around like that guy in Silence of the Lambs while my friends watch.’?”

“What? No! And I swear she said she was egg laying age!”

The chickens were in the backyard picking out dough, when I heard frantic squawking and yelled “No child no!”  I slammed on my office window trying to scare away whatever was attacking them and sprinted outside. A single poof of feathers drifted in the air as the screech of a departing bird of prey faded away.  Barbie #2 stood alone in the yard. Rizzo was nowhere to be found.

Did a bird really just carry off one of my chickens? I knew there were Ospreys in the area, but they eat fish. I recalled a tiny  hawk I saw months ago eating a finch in my
front yard.  Could that have done it? A real life chicken hawk? You have got to be f’ing kidding me. That’s something only loud mouth schnooks have to worry about. Ya know, I said, ya know what I’m talking about, son??

As I stood there shaking my head I heard a low cackle. From behind the doghouse coop emerged Rizzo. She had survived! I ushered them back into their coop and chuckled at how they freaked out whenever a bluejay  flew by.

A few days later there was a false alarm. Again I heard a commotion and rushed out to the rescue. Instead of finding an attacker, I found an attackee. Rizzo was trying to take on a large lizard that had been crawling on the fence. They battled in an epic fashion, Cluckzilla vs. Reptillrha. She stabbed as him with her beak and he lashed out with his tail. Eventually she grew bored and left the stunned and most likely internally bleeding lizard alone. Seconds after the battle ended, a large black snake slithered out of the grass towards the birds. I chased it off cursing the damn circle of life that was taking place in my dirt patch of a back yard.

chicken punched

In the end it wasn’t an arial attack, feisty feline, or alliterative alligator that brought the chickens demise. Instead it was a four legged, low riding, badger burrowing, nazi piece of shit that got them. I am of course talking about the confrontational wiener dog from my first post.

I had just returned from a 4 day scuba trip to the keys and was happy to find both my chickens and cat alive. The multiple bowls of food and water had done the trick. If only kids were that easy. Leave a few happy meals and a litter box, then off to Vegas for the week.

When I came home from work one day my neighbor and his daughter greeted me with grim faces as I pulled into my  driveway. The back gate was open and he had garden gloves on.

“A dog got into the chickens.” He said.

“Oh please tell me he didn’t get the black one!” With a shake of his head, I knew Rizzo was gone.

<dramatic movie “Nooooooooooooo!”>

The backyard was a mess of feathers, dirt piles, and footprints. Lying motionless in a box were Barbie #2 and Riz. Of the three Rhode island red replacements, they had only found one. She stood traumatized but safe back in the chicken cube.  Art, my neighbor, had found the dog my yard and had chased it away as it tried to bite him. It made me furious to know that this was the same dog that had rushed at me in my front yard. Back then I dismissed it, because come on, you’re a fucking wiener dog. I’ll field goal your ass. But now…

I couldn’t believe it.  My chickens were gone. The first death was apocalypse meow, but this time an army of barkness had descended upon my birds.


The dog ended up not belonging to my early morning leaf blowing ass of a neighbor, but rather to a guy behind me  a few houses down. The fences between our yards had a gap between then creating an aboveground underground railroad like system that the fleabag could use to get into any yard he wanted. He just squeezed through a hole in the fence and went chicken killer.

Art got up on his ladder to attempt to talk over the fence to the offending dog owner. He was in his backyard, laughed, and feigned a lack of comprehension of the English language.

Pissed, I yelled “El perro en me yardo againo, yo shooto in la cabesa, comprende?”  That’s a South Tampa dialect in case you were wondering.

Two more holes were dug and the birds were laid to rest. I prayed that I wasn’t near any ancient indian burial grounds that generated Stephen King-ish zombie chickens.

It was a pleasant surprise when we found one of the replacements cowering in Art’s yard. There was no trace of the third.What was I going to do with just two chickens? I already knew the chicken chi would be askew and annoying. Starting over with more chicks just seemed pointless.  With a defeated sigh I wrote a short ad and listed the reds for sale on Craigslist.

My grand backyard chicken experiment was over.

The next post: Or is it???


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.”

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.”