Chicken challenges

Last fall we purchased 10 Icelandic chickens from Lyle Behl in Illinois. These chickens are so much smarter than the guineas we struggled with for years. They know how to hide from predators, they know how to come home to roost every night. All kinds of stuff you’d hope that evolution would tend to (not so for guineas!)

But there were oddities – all winter we let them forage, as Icelandics seem to enjoy, in the snow and mud. Then we discovered that all the time they were spending under the eaves they were actually eating the house! First stucco, then the styrofoam insulation! In mid-winter our friend Roxane and I put up a bunch of hardware cloth just to stem the damage.

This spring our WWOOFer Natalie and I replaced that with flashing. In the meantime, Jackson was getting used to the rooster. But once the gardens went in, we put 6 chickens and one rooster into a chicken tractor Paul and I built in the garage, and moved it around the yard for them. The other two hens and rooster we kept in the coop.

Chickens in the “chicken tractor.”

But one night, the ones in the tractor looked distressed. They were shaking their heads and all trying to climb into one nesting box. Since it was already dark, I told myself I’d do something in the morning, but by then it was too late. Gnats had strangled every one of them!

So now we’re trying to rebuild our little flock. At least one of our hens got the idea and we have one baby…at this rate it could take a while!