Sunday, November 8, 2009

A chicken retrospective (Part 2)

n the years leading up to owning by own barnyard-animals, I received a whole range of criticisms designed to discourage me from my intent. However, I'm a determined kind of person, and I tend to optimistically view such difficulties as flaws in a design. Allow me to illustrate a few for you; along with what actually happened.

"You'll attract ever rodent in a 20km radius". Well, this was only very partially correct. The bottom fell out of the hanging feeder once, accompanied by a symphony of cursing and swearing. Despite our best efforts to clean it up, a lot of pellets stayed on the ground, and this irresistible smorgasbord attracted a plague of vermin. Though once they finished off the pellets, the kitchen was closed & I never saw them again. Problems with rodents can be avoided easily by making the gourmet chook-pellets inaccessible to all but the chickens. The hanging feeder (when it remained hanging) has done this nicely. I also invested in an electronic rat trap, which worked with some success - I'd advise it over poising the rats (and everything else that eats rat-sak, and/or poisoned rats).

"They'll generate a smell not unlike a dynamic-lifter factory". This has never eventuated. All floorspace is covered with a 10cm layer of sugar-cane mulch, which absorbs all avian Eau De Toilette. I've cleaned it out every few months this year, which makes the delicious compost I may have previously raved about. That was easy.

"Birds carry all sorts of diseases!". Well, so do people, and we keep them around, don't we? I think the key point here is not let your birds socialise with many of the unsavoury types that loiter around your neighbourhood. There aren't many non-natives around our area (those snobby lorikeets won't have anything to do with those dirty chickens), so this doesn't cause me much of an issue at all. The biggest problem we've had was with mites; and you can read about that episode here.

"The neighbours will never speak to you again". Our neighbours love eggs. And chickens are much less offensive than that dog down the street that chases possums at three in the morning. They don't shit on your neighbours front lawn, either. Neighbours, like any other person with some semblance of reason can have problems with any of the previously mentioned (and avoidable) problems. We've got good neighbours - if you don't, design with that in mind, and don't put your coop next to their fence and incur their wrath.

Finally, and possibly most critically for the plot - the wife is not a fan of birds. Backyard chickens were approved on the proviso that she didn't have to go anywhere near them. I silently gave it three months before she came around... And well, now she's a born-again chicken-lover.

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