Today I am scratched to bits and have nettle stings on my arms, legs and under my left eye! Is it just me or have nettles become stingier than when I was a child? The pain seems to last for hours now.
The reason for my nettle disaster is of course my stupid chickens. Once again they have decided that I have nothing better to do than spend an hour running around like a lunatic, scrambling through bushes and piles of nettles in an attempt to get them back into their run. A run that once out of, they want back in to, but don’t have the gumption to just go to the gate or the coop. Instead they head for the furthest away point and then cluck at the top of their chicken voices while pacing along the 8ft wall on the opposite side of the run!
I heard the noise from the kitchen and knew that either they were being eaten by a fox or they had escaped. As usual it was the latter, so I took some corn in a tin and went out and called them. Normally they come running and follow me back. Today however, they decided that because they had escaped to a scarier place than normal then they would run around frantically. Every attempt I made to catch them resulted in more pandemonium, more frantic running, more loud clucking and squawking.
My hubby had cut back some of the huge ivy that overhangs the wall on one side of their run. The same wall that Daisy had decided to nest in and lay her eggs. He was as usual a bit too brutal with the shears and they can now squash themselves out through the rest and half jump, half fly off the wall to freedom outside the garden!
What a nightmare, I was cut to bits with brambles, stung everywhere and still these 3 creatures were running around. Finally after about half an hour I managed to grab them one at a time and put them back in. I then got some chicken wire and ran it through the ivy to stop further escape.
Success, or so I thought. Ten minutes later the noise starts again. Again I go out and again there they were running up and down at the wall trying to get back in. By this time I was cursing them and him and his shears. So the whole performance starts again. Another 30 minutes, crawling through bushes, nettles and brambles, until I finally manage to get them back in.
Once again I start my escape prevention, but come on. These birds have their wings clipped they aren’t supposed to be able to fly, but somehow nobody told them that rule and they can. They are three big fat heavy breed chickens, not known for flight, but they can. Granted they can’t fly very well or very high, but they can fly enough to get over an 8ft wall with about another 2ft of Ivy on top of it..
Then I found another nest courtesy of Daisy again, on top of the wall, this time with 5 eggs in it! Three of the eggs are hers, but the other two belong to Minnie. So I now have two weird broody chickens insisting on laying their eggs in a nest on a wall instead of in their nice cosy nest box in the coop and unless they have been sneaking out and in again without my knowledge all 5 eggs had to have been laid today or at the most over two days. Surely this is unheard of for two hens to lay 5 eggs in a maximum of 2 days!
So I give up, I give up trying to understand what the hell goes on in these chickens heads. Their coop is dry warm, clean, with nice bedding, no mites or any other nasties in it. Their run is enormous, so big in fact they may as well be completely free range. They have good quality feed, plenty of water, they even have enrichment toys. They are vaccinated, wormed and dusted for mites themselves, but still they insist on putting me through this mad escape, chicken run for freedom every so often. They honestly have the behaviour of toddlers!
So if you’re thinking about getting chickens, be warned. They are not just some slightly dopey birds, that peck and scratch the ground, lay eggs and do very little else. They have very individual and different personalities, they are clever and cunning (in a bit of dumb ass way). They will at times drive you mad and they always seem to find a way around any obstacle you put in theirs. It might take them a while, but they will work it out.
Prepare yourself now, you need to become a bit of a chicken Ninja, learn their wiley ways and stay one step ahead!. If that fails, put a roof over their run!
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