Saturday, December 26, 2015

Chicken Education

I went out last night with the dogs to feed all the animals.  Mouse had to go on a leash.  Annmarie had multiple issues with him helping herd the sheep the night before.  He is now fast enough to keep up with Zeke so as the sheep were driven to the barn, Mouse kept getting in front of them and balling them up.  This resulted in the sheep finally scattering and Mouse getting carried while the actual working dog put the sheep into the barn. 
I took mouse out on a short leash.  We walked up onto the hillside and stood still while I directed Zeke to push them into the ram pasture and then into the barn.  Zeke did do it with a minimal amount of swearing.  He wasn't perfect or the swearing would not have been necessary but it wasn't painful and my throat didn't hurt from yelling.  Once the sheep were headed to the barn, I turned mouse loose and told him to "put them in the barn".  He ran right for the sheep and Zeke was pushing them into the barn so I am sure he thought he did it. 
We fed the sheep.  Mouse has decided that since the sheep poop in the barn he should also.  We are still working on discouraging this. So it has to be thrown out the window so a human doesn't accidently step in it.  Sheep poop is not like dog poop!  I cleaned up the momma area in the barn, added some more straw, pulled in a hay feeder and tossed out the eggs some chicken had laid in a secluded corner.  I was impressed I managed to throw the eggs 15 feet through a 2x2 foot window and never splatted one on the inside of the barn!  I wasn't sure that was possible when I started.  I am not known for my baseball skills.  Tomorrow, I will fill all the feeders in the momma area.  I even propped open the back door so they can get out to water on their own.  Our mommas should start dropping babies any time now, January is going to be a busy month. 
I told the dogs we were done and they ran over toward the house.  I still needed to collect eggs and check on the chickens.  My annual chicken report is coming up next week so we will see how I did.  I am not really sure how I did for the year actually.  I heard this poor chicken hollering in distress on my way to the coop.  I started running to the coop and hollering a generic "NO!" at the top of my lungs.  It didn't matter I could not see the offending parties, I knew someone was at fault.  The automatic chicken door was closed so the chickens should have all been inside the coop.  Mouse had a chicken cornered in the chicken yard, the chicken had its head through the chicken wire and was trying to get away from the dog.  He was tasting the chicken with his mouth, no blood but pure chicken terror was involved.  I hollered "NO" and threw my gloves at the dog.  I scooped up the chicken who then started flapping and trying to get away.  I had to grab a leg to hold onto it, so it ended up hanging upside down flapping and screaming.  Mouse thought this was fantastic!  He kept trying to run in and bite the chicken.  I kept hollering "NO" and smacking him every time he lunged at the chicken.  We walked around the side of the coop and Mouse was circling me four feet away out of reach.  I shook the chicken so it would flap and make noise.  This excited Mouse who came in a couple of more times for some chicken tasting.  All he got was a couple of more smacks and "NO!".  By the time we made it to the coop door Mouse was keeping his distance.  I shook the chicken one more time so it would squawk, Mouse looked at the chicken and exited the chicken yard.  He wanted nothing at all to do with the chicken.  I tossed the stupid bird into the coop, fed the chickens and collected eggs.   I know this is not the end of the chicken terrorizing but one small victory at a time is needed to teach him to obey and avoid certain things. 

This morning after letting the sheep out of the barn I had to holler at Mouse, he was tearing around the outside of the chicken coop fence, scattering 30 chickens every which way.  He was having a grand time!  I was able to call him right over to me at the barn.  See he is learning.