Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Chicken in Every Backyard 

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Oooooh, I want one of these so bad. The price is outrageous - I estimate that each egg would end up costing about $20 - but how lovely and magical would it be to have a couple of hens scratching around in a backyard in the middle of the city, eating bugs and fertilizing our victory garden, or at least the one we have vague plans for in the misty future? City ordinance permits up to four chickens, but no scary man chickens, as Earl's brother calls roosters, so it would be a sort of radical lesbian commune paradise, like that one that Susan "Stop the Insanity" Powter ran off and joined. No crowing, floggin’ roosters allowed!

I would fear for their safety, though. To me, Billy has the beady, darting eyes of a chicken killer, and although their little hutch and run appear safe and sturdy I don’t know if it would withstand the determined onslaught of ingenious urban raccoons. And I know they’re out there - I awoke uncharacteristically early the other morning spotted one in the gray light in the backyard. He was immense, at least 40 pounds, and he was using our backyard as a thoroughfare to the riches of overflowing trashcans and composting bins in the neighborhood. He was fat and slighly ridiculous but I could tell he was amazingly strong and nobody you want to mess with, like a sumo wrestler or Samoan bouncer. After he waddled through the yard he hoisted himself up over the fence with surprising grace.

About 8 years ago, before E installed a dog door, Sid had a touch of dysentery. To accommodate him we kept the kitchen back door cracked that night. Something awoke him around three in the morning and he flew into the kitchen where he interrupted a gang of raccoons trashing the place like drunken rockstars. They had pulled open drawers and cabinets and ripped open a bag of dog food, which they were wetting it in the dog bowl, leaving muddy tracks everywhere. Sid confronted them and was bitten through his forearm during the showdown. The raccoons screeched and snarled like demons and finally fled out the door. We doctored Sid’s arm and fussed over him and told him what a hero he was. Despite his injuries, he he patrolled the place the rest of the night. For months, we sang to him to the tune of Bonnie Tyler's song:

I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero until the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong
And he's got to be fast
And he's got to be whiter than rice

You don't need an eglu - you can get a chicken tractor! I want to get brave and try this someday:

"...he interrupted several a gang of raccoons trashing the place like drunken rockstars."


So, how do you keep the raccoons from using the dog door?
I guess word spreads fast in the urban raccoon community. Sid had just moved in and they must not have known there was a dog in the house. They haven't home invaded since, but they do cut through the backyard.
Foxy- You HAVE to hear the most horribly sad bluegrass dog song - Echo Mountain by James King. It's got a punch in the solar plexus you won't believe.

Chicken today, feathers tomorrow
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