Thursday, June 18, 2015

How To Train Your Dragons

Remember these little girls? Well, they've grown. They moved from their little metal horse trough, to a giant plastic stock tank and have finally been relocated outside to their forever (forever until they are food...mwuahahaha) home.

Voila! It's like we fed them miracle grow or something. They're huge! That black & white one is so pretty, but she scares me. Like I totally did a girly scream when she ran/flew towards me the other day. Embarrassing. She kind of reminds me of that witchy lady from Disney's The Sword in the Stone. You know...Madame Mim...

They've been in their coop for a little over two weeks now, so we decided that it was time to do a little free-range practice run. We let them out at about 7:30, the sun is setting at about 9:15 right now so it was a short practice run. It takes chickens just a little while to learn where their home is and as soon as dusk hits, they high-tail it back to the coop for the night.

As soon as we opened the doors, our brave little Barred Rock babes led the way.

You know how when you open a door, it goes almost all the way to the back wall and makes a 'V'?There was one...let's just say not so smart...chicken (yes, one of the blonde ones) who tried to exit by going into that 'V'. It proceeded to squawk and squawk and stick its head through the chain link door until finally Kelly went in there to pick it up and carry it out. Those blondes, I tell ya.

Then came the fun part! Teaching our dogs that the little ladies are friends, not food. We started with my perfect, sweet, angelic peach of a dog, Crue (I don't have favorites, really:)). Mainly because he is the best listener of the bunch.

I'm going to go off on a small tangent here - I love his electric collar. It is a waterproof collar with strength settings ranging from 1-8, but my favorite part is that there's a little button on the side that just gives two small 'beeps'. In the four years that I've had this collar, I've only had to use the shock park one single time. The few rare times that I have to use the remote at all, I only use the beep and it brings him right back to attention. If you ever decide to invest in an electric collar, I 100% recommend one with a beep.

Alright, back to dragon training. Since my big man is such an exemplary listener, we introduced him first. He heeled out to the chickens and I had him sit about 20 feet away so he could watch as they ran and flew around for a bit. Then he came into the middle of the brood and I had him lay down next to me while I pet him.

We did this for about ten minutes, then he was free to walk around and check things out. I had the remote at the ready because if any of these dogs go after our ladies, they were going to become electric chickens really fast.

And there he is more interested in munching on the long grass then playing with chickens.

We did the same thing with each of the dogs, one at a time. Our young lab was pretty good about them and only tasted one or two shocking feathers. The beagle went after quite a few of them and tasted a few more electric feathers, she's a very sneaky one who we'll have to watch closely. The last one, our older lab, could have cared less. In fact, she might think she's a chicken. She went right into the middle of them and started eating grass right along with them. Sweet old lady.

So that's the story of how to train your dragons. Our plan is to just have two of them outside at a time for the next few weeks until we are comfortable that they'll leave the birds alone. Keep your fingers crossed!

And since I know you haven't seen the chicken coop yet, here it is in all its half-finished glory! 

Kelly & I completed the base and the frame, then when busy season came along his stepdad came over and put the roof and shell on. Thank goodness for him because otherwise we still wouldn't have it finished and the chickens would probably still be living in the pole barn! It needs a coat of paint until it can be sided, we need to put the door on and add some steps on the front, in addition to adding the nesting boxes next month. That cute egg sign is from his mother and we found the horseshoe in the pile of old barn rubble near the coop. 

While they were out, we weeded and hoed the garden, then went inside for a late dinner. By the time we went outside to check on them a little after dusk, they were all happy as clams back inside their coop, all huddled in the corner where they like to sleep.

Now we wait until September for eggs! 


  1. Glad to see you back up and running!! Love all of your photo's and daily logs

    1. Thanks! Trying to keep up my motivation :)

  2. About time you get back to this blog... :)


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