After the coyotes took four of our six hens we decided to replenish the flock with new blood, including a rooster. We hoped the rooster would help with the feather pecking habit of the remaining two, as well as keep the kittens at bay. I also didn’t mind if I heard him announce the morning. So we are in the midst of integrating the two flocks, tiny as they are. We’ve got them both in the chicken run Joel made after the coyote invasion, separated by some wire for now. That way we figured they could see each other and interact without being able to have the show down for alpha just yet.
At the same time as all of this the kittens have become quite bold and dug little holes out of their barn. When I came out the first morning after putting the chickens in the run together, though separated by the wire, I found four of the five newbies outside the pen! My best guess is the kittens got in with them and scared them enough that they flew over the top. Sure enough, as I was chasing them down to put them back the kittens were prowling along the top of the fencing, going post to post before dropping in and terrifying the chickens. They are still small so I don’t think they would do much harm, but we needed the chickens to stay in the run, because of the coyotes.
After I had chased all the chickens down and put them back one by one, Joel ran out to Menards to grab some deer fencing. We figured the really light material would deter the cats since it would be harder to climb up the deer fence than sturdy chicken wire. It was quite the effort for Joel to get that stuff stapled up.
It may sound like such a pain, and I suppose it was, but I feel so much purpose in this type of work. I enjoyed wrestling the chicken wire to create a separation for the two flocks, and figuring out where to put up a temporary roosting bar, and spreading hay, and hauling silty dirt from the other end of the barn to the new run so the chickens had a place to dust bathe. And while I was doing all this the boys were off playing in the tall grass behind the barn with their tractor and the kittens. They were occupied for at least an hour on their own and I was able to blissfully work at these chores. We all came in afterward rosy-cheeked and happy. It’s exactly how I imagined living on a farm would be. At our house in the suburbs I would always want to go outside but then I’d be aimless as the boys played. I often just felt bored and restless. In warmer weather I could pull weeds or do some general maintenance, but nothing that felt purposeful beyond just keeping things looking nice. I never cared so much about things looking nice- it never felt like that mattered. I wanted to be doing something worthwhile. I feel that way now.
Today when I went out to help Joel wrestle the deer fence, L came with so he could play with his trucks in the barn. I watched him sitting in the dirt pushing the kittens away as they batted at his trucks and the chickens clucking just behind him and I felt such contentment. It’s exactly the childhood I imagined they should have.