I once shared a story about a wicked little rooster outside a hotel room singing the song of his people in our direction all night. You would think such a horrific event would stop my pursuit of having a wee flock of chickens but no.
Back in the spring when we stopped by the TSC (Tractor Supply Co) for dog food we stumbled upon a “surprise” mess of fluffy little chicks in the middle of the store. I say surprise but let’s be honest, there was a big ole sign outside that screamed chicks were there and we probably didn’t even need dog food. It was an excuse for city folk to see the chicken babies. They were all huddled under warming lights and peeping their little hearts out. All yellow and brown with beady little eyes and funny little feet.
Needless to say we tossed a bag of starter check feed, a heat lamp and some bedding in the cart on top of the grain free kibble we didn’t need. The nice folks in red vests went to work trying to rustle up 4 of the smallest breed chicks they had available. It was so very exciting.
We took them home and put them in a box and cuddled them every day. The one tiny brown one came to be my favorite and the only rooster of the group. He would sit on his new friends and herd them about the box like a true leader. When everyone had fully grown real feathers and our little roo started to crow, we put them in the newly built coop. It was a proud moment.
A few days had past and our little flock of four seemed to love being outside. They slept on the roost and cuddled in all cute at night. Then one warm spring night the unthinkable happened. Something got into the coop by digging under and went to work murdering all but a single lone chicken. My favorite chick was spared but clearly traumatized. The unspeakable horrors of the nights events flashed in his little chicken eyes while he hopped carefully over the discarded parts of friends. It was awful. He suffered some lost tail feathers and had some damage to his newly budded comb but mostly he was just terrified.
We brought him inside again, cuddled and cooed at him. He soon forgot his woes and I am convinced he also forgot he was a chicken. As much as I would have loved to keep him inside and treat him as a dog there was just one little thing.
I have an aversion to animal poop.
I hate it.
He didn’t seem to mind.
We had come to an agreement that he would need to return to the coop, newly lined for his safety and I would add in a few chicks to seal the deal. Yes, you are reading correctly, I made a deal with rooster weighing in at about a full can of beer.
I picked up 5 more chicks and set about life with fowl running carefree in the backyard. This time I was extra careful to secure the coop by night. All was well for a little while.
Fast forward … 3 of the little chickens we welcomed are actually roos. So for numbers sake we now have 4 roosters and 2 hens. This is not a welcome balance. Every morning they are all making various crowing sounds. They strain their little necks and stare longingly toward the back door for someone to come let them out for the day. As if we could ignore the ruckus.
If it were a single crowing bird I could almost forget them for a bit but 4? No.
Let them be free … to shut the hell up.
Today was my morning to spare them the day in the coop. I had an extra couple minutes before leaving for work and I decided to run down to let them out in my bare feet. Who needs shoes anyway. This is standard for me at home or basically anywhere it may be remotely socially acceptable to not wear shoes. Today the bare foot would be a bad choice, I just didn’t know it yet.
Picture it; early morning, dew on the grass, the sun barely up. The roos are crowing, they see me and they are dancing and fussing in clicks and chirps and song, urging me to move faster to unlock the doors. I was concerned about slipping in the wet grass but also about getting to them quickly. What I wasn’t thinking is that being near the coop means being near the poop. Chicken poop. That black mushy stuff that you don’t see in the grass. But you can feel it. You can feel it on your bare feet.
I opened the coop door, locked it up in the upright position and urged the dogs to follow me back to the house. We needed to hurry now so I could wipe my feet of the dew and poo mix. This ordeal had taken more time than I intended. I quickly grabbed some cleaning wipes and slipped on my flip flops.
I am basically feeling like Super Mom or a Goddess of chickens and children or something equally amazing. My morning routine is basically slayed and I am a rock star. I go to work with all the confidence in the world.
Then on my first break I look down to see there was a bit of poo dew I missed between my pinky and the neighboring toe. Like the tow jam you find mysteriously lodged in toddler toes at bath time. I was mortified, even though thankfully nobody else noticed. I have never been more thankful for a desk job in my entire life. I quickly cleaned up the mess and pretended like nothing happened.
Little did I know what the future held when I pointed out which little feather balls I wanted. What it really meant when I asked the staff to put my birds in the box that fateful day at the TSC. Who knew life would be such an adventure. I fear that I will have flashbacks of toe goo and both my roo and I will need to be put in a padded room for our mental health.
It’s been an adventure and we have only just begun.