Eight months ago, my friend Tracy (who has featured in a number of stories here) forwarded an email thread between her dad, Ron, and his friend John chatting about keeping backyard chickens. She thought I’d get a laugh out of, it which I did. It’s been sitting in my inbox since then and when I came across it today I thought I’d post it here hoping that you found it humorous as well.
The City of Toronto has been conducting a trial Hen Keeping program for a few years restricted to several Wards. The trial is being evaluated in March for possible citywide expansion.
I support expansion and I want to keep a few chickens for delicious fresh eggs.
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My family was an early adopter of raising backyard chickens when the City pilot project was announced.
We contacted “Rent a Chicken” – yes, that exists – and in the spring a farming family from the Guelph area arrived with a beautiful coop, four marvelous and handsome Rhode Island Reds and two large sacks of feed.
Our experience was as follows:
Young chickens lay really disgusting tasting eggs; they are rubbery and in no way delicious. Not one person in our family would eat any of the eggs these chickens produced throughout the summer.
Chickens poop like crazy, everywhere, and in the summer the poop stink is unbearable, wafting all over the neighborhood to the objection of many.
Chickens are actually very loud. They make this constant cooing noise that can be heard throughout the house day and night.
Our family members did not approve of keeping chickens in the cage and wanted to encourage “free range” to our new, feathered guests. This led to our chickens “flying” up onto the top of the 6’ fence without any difficulty and various neighbours calling at all times of day: “I just saw your chicken crossing the road – pun intended!!” Or, “I am afraid my dog has caught your chicken in our backyard; it is currently flapping in the jaws of Fido.”
Giant bags of chicken feed are a favourite target of every type of rodent you can imagine. Within a month the mouse population around our house exploded, then rats appeared. The shed where we kept these giant bags had two side wood panels literally ripped off by persistent raccoons that made it their project to break in and gain access to the buffet on offer. Chicken feed ended up all over the floor of the shed on a daily basis.
And finally, speaking of raccoons – as we know, nature is a war zone. Having a coop with four delicious looking hens peering out of see-through wire caging was like waving the red flag in front of a bull. Pretty much all day, every day, those raccoons, and then a family of foxes and then three coyotes made their plans of attack for the night to come. The chickens would walk up the ramp into their wooden protected box area of the pen. On a nightly basis we would then hear endless banging and scratching from the various attackers trying to rip the top right off that thing. We would constantly have to wake up, put on our housecoats and chase the attackers away. The raccoons would all start screeching and hooting and hollering. One giant mother raccoon decided our chicken experiment was a perfect opportunity to teach her three babies how to break in to a chicken coop – EVERY NIGHT!!!
Needless to say the chickens got no sleep, were highly stressed and not one of them made it through the summer- either killed by dogs, run over by cars, munched by foxes or ripped feather by feather to shreds by cute cuddly mama raccoon and her little babies.
Thanks John for taking the time to report on your experience. It gives new meaning to “cautionary tale”.
There will be no chickens at Club 71.
I was quite keen to keep some chickens, however Judy was horrified by your reported experience. Accordingly, she has invoked her vast VETO power.
As disappointed as I am, you may have saved me from myself. But that’s what friends are for.
Thanks to Ron and John, neither of whom keep chickens or follow my blog. Judy, on the other hand, is a Bitchin’ Chickens peep, I think solely in order to keep tabs on her wayward daughter Tracy.
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