Thursday, March 30, 2006

Chickens, Dogs and Chicken-Chasing Dogs

I love keeping chickens. They are wonderful animals! And I admit it is strange for a vegan to keep chickens, since, obviously, I don't eat them or their eggs. I just think chickens are very cool people. And one of the things I like most about Costa Rica is that every other house has chickens. I've even seen them in the middle of San Jose! Though out here in the boonies, they're a little more common.

The first chickens we acquired were from mi esposo's mother, who tends to get animals and then get rid of them not long thereafter. We got a silver Sebright rooster, golden Sebright hen, and two Australorps hens. So cute! Since then, the gang has ranged from a pair of Polish (Sid and Nancy) to mixes of every color imaginable. At the moment, we have four of the original Sebrights' offspring (the roosters Frank and Penny, and hens Peet and Minnie), plus a couple of odd birds hatched or acquired here and there. A few months ago, I found a pair of silkies at the local agro for $10, so I snatched them up.

The "Puffs," Hufflepuff (left) and H.R. Puffenstuff (right)

Well, it turned out that one of the pair was actually another rooster who had yet to come into his own! I discovered this one morning when my silky hen started crowing — that was a surprise! Luckily, though, silky males are known for being mellow and easy to get along with, so we decided to keep them both. Then Numi came along...

Heeeeeere's Numi!

Numi showed up at the cafe one day and wouldn't leave. When she started growling at customers, I figured we ought to do something with her, and that something was to take her home. She is one nutty dog. There's a popular book out at the moment called Marley and Me, and I am pretty sure Numi is quite Marley-like. She digs holes. She chases the cats. She barks at all hours of the day and night. She escapes and runs after horses. And she chases chickens.

That last offense got her a new enclosure, where we had to fence off part of the yard and keep her in it, in the hopes that our chickens would survive her antics. Did I mention she was an escape artist? Unfortunately, the handyman who built her enclosure enclosed it with not-so-strong chicken wire, and Numi bites right through it. She has, at this point, made several holes in the "fence," which I have patched up using other, stronger chicken wire and/or zinc roofing. It looks like one of those "houses" that the people who live under the bridge live in. Actually I think the house of the people under the bridge probably looks better than this.

Yesterday, she escaped yet again. I woke up to chickens squawking and carrying on, and without even looking, I knew it was her. We have one big rooster that is (was) allowed to run the yard, but since I feared for his life, I decided to give away the Puffs and get Kepi inside the coop. That was done easily enough, so we gathered up the Puffs and a couple of hatchlings and carried them all over to our friend Esteban's house.

Esteban has an incredible property. It overlooks a canyon, and in the early mornings and late afternoons capuchins come and steal eggs from his chicken coops. He keeps Polish, Sebrights, Cochins, and an absolute myriad of mixed breeds and other breeds I can't remember the names of. It is an incredible array of chickens, which all started a few years ago when we gave him two of our babies, Francisco and Leticia, the offspring of Frank and Lynnie. Anyway... Esteban was more than happy to take the Puffs and the two babies, and I was very happy to have him take them, since he takes such great care with his chickens and they'd actually have more room at his place than at ours. I was sad to see them go, but I figure when we leave Costa Rica, he will get all of the remaining chickens anyway.

Except perhaps for Kepi, who is just an incredible pain and gets along with no other rooster. Now the real question is, what in the heck do I do with Numi?

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