I admit it. I am not an adept chicken wrangler. Fortunately, most of my chickens are pretty cooperative; they get over the fence occasionally and have to be herded back. Calling "chick, chick, chick, chick, chickens" and a handful of scratch usually does it. The Silver Laced Wyandottes and Speckled Sussex will actually run up to the chicken gate when they see me and wait to be let in. But not my Buff Orpingtons. For some reason, whenever they see me, they take off in the opposite direction.
|Buff Orpington hens.|
This may go back to when the oldest ones were chicks. They were raised by one of my Welsummers, who liked to take them for walks around the yard. When they started getting too close to the garden or the road, I would herd them back. I would take a bath towel and walk behind them flapping it crisply so that it sounded like hawks' wings. I would call out, "Shoo, shoo," as they made a terrified scramble back toward the chick yard. That must have been more traumatic than I realized. Now they run away any time they see me.
This has became a problem recently, because I have been trying to establish our little buck pasture. Some of it's doing fairly well.
|Last fall I seeded with annual rye, quite a bit of which has started to grow.|
Hopefully, so has seed from my sustainable pasture experiment.
|From a different angle there are large bare spots in need of seeding.|
This detered them somewhat. They would make a terrible fuss when they jumped up and had to negotiate the twine, but it didn't stop them.
As I racked my brain, I thought of our former hawk deterrent efforts, and reading that shiny things like CDs help keep hawks away. The only thing I could think of was to attach a row of aluminum foil strips to the top of the fence.
Aluminum foil is well known for it's anti-alien properties and I figured that if it worked, I could make my fame and fortune by proving that chickens are aliens in disguise from another planet. At the very least I could make my debut on George Noory's radio show; maybe even get a contract to write the screenplay for MIB4.
Alas, this did not work. Those four stubborn Buffs still managed to jump the fence in the morning and work that pasture. What made matters worse was that they couldn't figure out how to get back into the chicken yard. I would try to herd them, but they insisted on running away in the opposite direction!
This went on for several frustrating days until at last I decided they had to be caught and wing clipped. You'd think this would have been my first solutions except that these didn't go into the coop to roost at night. Rather, they roosted at the top of the cedar tree in the chicken yard. Now they couldn't get back and were roosting in the bushes in the buck pasture. I figured I could catch them at night, clip their wings, and all would be well.
I figured I'd have a good chance if I waited until after dark and caught them unawares. Except they weren't unaware, they saw me coming in the moonlight. After freaking out the first two hens, I went after the other two with the flashlight. It blinded them so that I was able to pluck them out of the bush easily. The first two were also blinded by it and simply hunkered down. That made them easy to catch too.
All four had both wings clipped and were placed in the coop that night. For now, the buck pasture is safe for forage seed planting and growing. Except I will likely have to do the planting at night so no chicken is tempted to try to get into the buck pasture again. Stealth planting anyone?