The Secret Chicken

stories of a secret chicken

Not-Henery, she is no more.


Today, I am going to try to euthanize a chicken.

I’m not looking forward to it, but I can’t see a way around it.  She’s got a badly prolapsed vent, and she is an older lady.  The probability of a recurrence, even if I could “fix” it today, is very high.

I had options.  There is old-school, break the neck, chop her head off.  No way I could do that, any more than I could do that to one of my cats.
I could take her to a vet, but between the cost and the trauma of dragging her out of the vet and hoping they understand that she’s not a piece of livestock to me…

So I did some searching.  Two options became more viable, for me.

There are people who use baking soda and vinegar, into an enclosed environment.
There are people who attach a vacuum hose to the exhaust of their car and pipe it into an enclosed environment.

The baking soda method seems to be more common for smaller animals, but the car exhaust…well, people have been using it for as long as there have been cars, just about.  So there is proof that it works on larger animals.

I’ve started with a box.  Organic Diced Carrots.  And I’ve pulled the hose and a section of pipe off the vacuum.  About to carve a hole in the box and use Gorilla duct tape to attach the pipe.  Then I’ll attach the hose end to the exhaust pipe on the car.


I wasn’t able to do it last night. She had gone too far into the coop for me to reach without resorting to means that would totally freak out both her and the other sleeping chickens.

But today, right after dawn, I went back out. She was still in the back of the coop, but I was able to pull her towards me using a garden hoe. Ignominious, but necessary. I double checked her backside, just to make sure it hadn’t magically healed…no luck.

As I type this, she is in the box. The car is running. She flapped a little bit, but now it is quiet.

Eat your cat.


After a conversation with an old co-worker at the place I buy my chicken feed, I kind of got angry.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people suggest that I kill and eat my older chickens.  You know, just throw ‘em in the stew pot.

But you know what? I’m not a farmer.  I didn’t get chickens because I needed their eggs or meat to survive, either financially or for food.  I got them because I thought it would be fun, and interesting, and I liked the idea of chickens.

Sound familiar?  Kind of like why people get a cat or dog, maybe?   But you don’t hear people saying, “Hey, why don’t you take that old, useless chihuahua and toss it in the oven?”, do you.  Well, not very often.

But it’s sad to me, how easily people suggest just killing animals that I raise – not in a barn, but in my back yard.  They aren’t livestock.

Even though they know me, know how I feel about my animals, it is still ok with them to make comments like that.  Often even accompanied by a neck-wringing pantomime or chopping-block noises.

Let me explain, one more time, how I think: You don’t name a chicken after George Hamilton if you have the intention of turning it into soup.

george hamilton

George Hamilton. You can tell from the slick-back hair and deep tan.

Toshi’s Complaint


Toshiro is a Japanese bantam. It’s obviously past bedtime here, and she’s not ready.

She’s about the size of a large pigeon – you can see how much smaller she is than the turken, who’s walking behind her (with a WTF? look on her face, I assure you).

PS Toshi got her name from this guy. I didn’t realize how much she would try to live up to her name.


Chickens are chicken.


I have four chickens who won’t sleep in the coop with the rest of the ladies.  They took up residence on an oversized tool shelf near the back door, and nothing I’ve tried has gotten them to shift to a more appropriate location.

Finally, I gave up.  I cleared off the shelves completely and installed a couple of dog house bottoms.  Added roosts, hay and pellets.  Yay!  Everyone’s happy.

Chicken house - side


Except the chickens.  They are, apparently, afraid of the dark.

They keep going to bed either on the little ledge in front of the doors, or wedged into the crack beside it.  I couldn’t figure it out, until last night.  I went out there with the flashlight to put them to bed, and noticed that when I set the flashlight inside the doghouse so I could see, the chickens would walk right in there.  Duh.  They couldn’t see inside at bedtime, so they wouldn’t go in.

So today, I got a couple of Dollar Store automatic night lights and some adhesive hooks.  And a couple short extension cords.  Now at dusk, the lights should go on and the chickens should be able to get in and comfy before I go out and turn them off.  I’ll probably hook a timer up to the lights at some point, to make it a little simpler (and less dependent on my memory).


I also set up the outdoor standing lamp near the entrances, so that getting to the door would be an easier task.

Now, I wait.

Hormonal Hen


Picture here is Sprinkles, who is currently broody. I wasn’t terribly concerned, I just pulled her out of the coop a few times a day to make sure she got food and water and exercise. Until yesterday.

I’d thought that my other ladies weren’t laying much lately because of the heat – that can happen. I’ve only been getting one brown egg a day lately. Turns out they have been laying eggs. Under a pallet we’ve been stacking wood on. I found a dozen white and green eggs stacked up under the edge – I only saw them because it was getting crowded and one had rolled out partially.

So now, I’m taking this Broody-Breaking a little more seriously. I’ve already tried the water-dips, and that didn’t work. So now, I’ll try the “kenneling” treatment. I don’t want to, it doesn’t sound nice at all, but I’ve got to find a way to get her out of the coop so the other ladies can lay their eggs in the comfort of their nesting boxes.

Holanda, Holanda


The entire purpose of this post is to show you a ridiculous video of my chickens eating a popsicle.

Yeah, that’s it. Nothing else.

Oh and the sounds you are hearing are a combination of the music on my MP3 player, the chickens hootling, traffic on the road going by our house, and an occasional exclamation or giggle from myself (the exclamation being from when one of them nibbled my toe off-camera).

Gorgeous Shiny Chicken Machine!


No, not this one. My sister sent me this picture from when she went to the Emu-Z-Um this month.

It would be a great addition to my household, I think. I could put one in the front yard – think of the money I’d make!

Meet the Young Ladies


Yesterday, I brought home a roll of chicken wire and used a couple of pallets to build a more secure enclosure for the girls to hang out in while they get used to being outside.

Since the enclosure is attached to the coop, I wanted to make sure that the older ladies would be ok with them – I’ve heard that flock integration can be a bitch at times.  I’ve been taking the younger ones out in a cage and spreading scratch, giving them all a chance to eat together without the danger of being physically in the same space, so I was pretty sure it’d be ok.  But you never can tell.

I decided to put all of them into the garden enclosure and spread some scratch, to make sure no one got picked on if they were together.  This video is some of what happened.

Yeah, just a little goofy. But they seemed to be getting along pretty well, so I left them out there last night.

I’d put a large dog house with bedding in the enclosure, but outside of the main coop, with their food and water dishes and the heat lamp. This morning, all seemed fine. The older chickens did exactly what I expected – ate the little one’s food. Otherwise, the younger girls stayed close to the enclosure while the older ladies roamed the yard.

So, Stage One Integration complete. Eventually, I’m hoping the younger ones will move into the coop itself, and we’ll no longer need the outer enclosure or dog house.

And hopefully, they’ll figure out what to do with worms.

Herd of Chickens?


Well, of course I’ve heard of chickens!

A herd of chickens, complete with chicken-herding cat.

Spring, when a girl’s fancy turns to…chickens.


Over the winter, I got pretty lax with the whole posting thing.  But Things Did Happen.  We got snow, which the ladies didn’t like at all.  I’d love to show you photographic proof of this, but it would be a pristine snowy yard, with nary a footprint in site.  They refused to come out of their covered area.  In fact, they weren’t too keen on coming out of the coop until I brought them treats.

The "Club House" sign is in front of where the ladies are hiding out.

I did give in and put up some interior lights in the ladies coop, which did indeed jump-start the egg production.  Not-Henery was concerned, at first.  But I think that the choice of rope lights made it less intrusive and less of a jarring, sudden light when they come on.  I put them on a timer, so they turn on around 6ayem and go off around 7:30pm.   In the evening, when they go in and the lights are on, it looks like they’re having a little chicken party when you look through the window.

In other news, my mother made a decision to move to Eastern Oregon, and to take a small flock with her.  She had me house 12 barred rock and 2 bantams for her until she moved.

Of course…I had to get a couple for myself.  I ended up getting two Black Stars (aka black sex-link) and two black turkens.  I think that I will only be keeping one of each, the other two will hopefully be going home with a friend who is starting her own Adventure in Chickening.  This is good – I really thing 10 is pushing the boundaries of good sense.

We do already have names for the new ones – a tribute to Soul Eater.  Black Star and Tsubaki.  As such:

I’m going to have to do some modifications to the coop to allow for the additional ladies, but I’ve got a several weeks before that becomes and issue.  Good thing, it’s nothing but mud back there right now.

The ladies have done a great job keeping the garden area free of weeds and well fertilized over the winter and this early spring.  Hopefully I’ll be able to return the favor later in the year, in the form of tomatoes.

I suppose that’s about it for now. When the weather is better, I intend to get some great video of the new chickens learning about grass and sunshine. Can’t wait.

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