What in tarnation is a chicken tractor?

Chicken tractor conjures up images of a miniature garden vehicle, with Foghorn Leghorn behind the wheel, right?  That’s the image I saw in my brain when I read this ad on Face Book:

Chicken Tractor For Sale.  Wife said the chickens had to go.  I will deliver.

And then I saw the photo.

Another name for this little home-made gem would be a portable chicken coop.

The whole idea set BW’s mental wheels to spinning, for you see, once upon a time, way down the bayou in South Louisiana, Bayou Woman had laying hens.  She loved those hens, fed those hens, and trained those hens to free range on her marshland and put themselves back in their pen at night.  Every day, each little hen laid a beautiful egg for Bayou Woman and her family in exchange for the loving care they were given.

One day, a big bad storm called a hurricane came along in the Gulf of Mexico, causing BW and her family to evacuate from their home.  Worried about what the flood waters might do to her beloved hens, BW fretted over whether to lock them in the pen, where they would be captive prey for wild animals, or to let them go free and hope they had the good sense to fly up into the tree branches to escape harm’s way.

BW finally decided to leave the gate open, so they could come and go as they were accustomed to doing and hoped they would sleep up high in their roost every night until BW returned.  Thankfully, the storm was not a major one, and it only caused light flooding, so that BW and her family were able to return after only a couple nights away.

Even though BW thought her chickens were very, very smart, it turned out they were not so bright after all.  The sad end to that story was that some wild animals (coyotes, perhaps) tore all her chickens to shreds, and she cried (secretly, of course) when she saw the carnage.

Shortly thereafter, a little old lady down another bayou was getting too old to care for her little flock, so she gave them all to BW, who happily took them home and trained them, like the others.  One hen in that flock was different from the others.  Her name was Angel, and she liked to be held.  When the back door of the house was left open, Angel would climb the steps, go inside, eat the crumbs off the kitchen floor, and leave just the way she had come.

There was something else very special about Angel, her eggs looked different from all the other eggs.  But for now, more of the story.

One day, LilSis said her neighbor up in Shreveport had a young Plymouth Rock rooster they wanted to get rid of.  So, the rooster took a ride down the bayou and joined the flock.  He quickly became the hens’ protector, doing his job with a vengeance.

He became overprotective, not wanting to let BW go in and get the eggs, so she had to teach him a lesson.  A little old Indian woman had taught BW how she had tamed her mean rooster so that he would not peck at her, even though he was still agressive toward others.  She shared her secret with BW, who had never owned a chicken in her life at that point in time.  Now, BW recalled the lesson and knew it was time to perform the ceremony on Rockie.

BW caught Rockie, and followed Mrs. Mary’s instructions, step by step.  When she let Rockie go, he was a changed rooster and never bothered her again.  Such was not the case with The Captain, though.  One day when BW was out of town, The Captain, who HATES chickens, decided (who knows why) to go inside the pen to feed them rather than just throwing the corn over the fence.

Rockie, knowing this male mammal did not belong in the pen, proceeded to peck at The Captain’s legs.  Infuriated, the captain found a machete, whacked Rockie, and threw his lifeless body in the bayou to become fodder for the crabs.  Later, he repeated the story, laughing.  At that moment, BW knew just how much he HATED chickens.  Now, the hens were once again defenseless.

Not long after the Rockie masacre, the hens disappeared one by one from the yard as they free ranged.  There was never any sign of distress–no feathers–no signs of struggle.  Because BW was not home everyday, and there was a highway crew resurfacing the road, she figured maybe they were hungry and craving fresh chicken or eggs, and took the hens home to their families.  Then again, maybe the hawks got them?

And that was the end of BW and her laying hens.  She missed the sound of those hens clucking as they rid the yard of pesky bugs and spiders.  The Captain said, emphatically, “NO MORE CHICKENS”, which made BW very, very sad.

And then, many years later, she saw the ad for the chicken tractor, bought it, and had it delivered to Camp Dularge.  She knew right away that she wanted to get the same kind of chicken that Angel was and have more of those very special eggs.  It took about a month, but she finally found three full-grown Ameraucana hens for sale in town.  And she did NOT tell The Captain about her newly-acquired treasures.

Meet them now.

Even though their coloring is different, they are all called Ameraucana hens or Easter Egg hens.

This is Petite Rouge, she is the smallest of the three.

This is Gray Girl (which is way too hard to say in French), and she is the most docile of the three.

And this is Goldie aka Bully, for obvious reasons–she is the biggest and at the top of the pecking order.

What is so unique about these colorful hens?

Their eggs.

What is so unique about their eggs?

The colors.

The largest egg belongs to Goldie.  The greenish one was layed by Petite Rouge, and the other by G.G.

I don’t want to bore you with any more chicken tales, but if any of you are interested, I have more pics of the chicken tractor, so you can see just how neato it is.

The wheels allow me to move it to a different spot in the backyard every other day.

This is a view from the end, looking toward the nesting box.

And the blurry pole is where they jump up and roost at night.

This is a PVC pipe with cutouts that I fill with fresh water for them to drink.  It is attached, so it moves right along with the whole unit.

And then there is . . .

feed pipe attached to the side, which is totally unnecessary, because I can just throw the cracked corn and lay pellets in by hand.  But it is a nifty design, anyway.

The girls have been with me since last Friday, and they have generously given me 13 eggs so far.   They each lay an egg a day, and the reason we are short a few is because one morning I arrived at the camp to find all three of them wandering around the back yard.  They were too wild to catch, so they ranged all day long, and I’m sure they lay their eggs somewhere in the  yard that day.  Termite and I went back after dark that night and found them huddled on top of a six foot ladder, caught them, and put them back in through this handy-dandy door to their nesting box.

Pull the gold bungie chord . . .

and voila . . . EGGS!!!

And thus ends tonight’s chicken tale and begins BW’s little chicken farm saga.

Happy as a hen in a chicken tractor,

BW 🙂

 

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Comments

What in tarnation is a chicken tractor? — 34 Comments

  1. That’s a very neat contraption BW! I wish I had a moveable chicken yard when I had my chickens years ago. Love your new hens, especially the red one. Hope the captain mellows out about your new girls.

  2. I’ve heard of portable pens, but never heard them referred to as a chicken tractor.
    Make sure you park that tractor near the fig tree often. FREE FERTILIZER!
    I receive eggs frequently from a man at church. I don’t know what breeds he has, but he gives me mostly brown eggs. But…in every carton he gives away he puts at least 1 green egg in it.

  3. What a great story! Your new hens are beautiful. I can’t wait to see them. I had a chicken tractor during my days on the farm in Covington. Yours is a much nicer version of the one I built.

    We’re headed your way. We’re driving as I speak through west TX hill country.

  4. I always loved those green or speckled eggs. Especially at Easter. One less color to dye! Mom had about 24 hens and there was always one trying to set. She finally got rid of all of them since she couldn’t chase them down and the neighbors dogs/cats were killing them. She has rabbits now!

    • Rabbits don’t lay eggs, and I could never kill one for food unless it was my only choice of protein for my family! But we used to raise show rabbits!!! Well, the kids did for 4H.

  5. I shared this with some of the “chicken folks” over at weather underground. There are several who are really involved with them, and smart about raising them. I’m sure they’ll enjoy the post!

  6. Very nice BW,I am sure you will enjoy them,now go cut you a nice switch,(I like saw palmetto stems) show it to the Captain and tell him you are going to wear him out with it if he gets near YOUR chickens.

    • Oh wow, palmetto stems. Hm. I wonder if I had used those on my boys, would I have been charged with child abuse? Those things are BRUTAL!!!!! I hear ya, Ronnie! But he wont’ be threatened by that . . . I’ll threaten to take away his TV privileges if he gets near my chickens!!!! He stopped by the camp Tuesday and said, “Hm. I didn’t know you had chickens over here.” To which I said, “Chickens? What chickens?” And I hope he got the idea. This is my slogan: NOYB= None of your beeswax!!!

        • Thank you,been very busy with our spring soft shell crab season BW,I have been reading but not much time to reply,every other day we leave here at 3 am and drive to Jacksonville to crab and get back around 6 to 7 pm.

          • Mmmmm. Haven’t cooked soft shells in a very long time. How much are they going for wholesale down there? Man, you are working too hard, but you gotta get, while the getting’s good, right?

  7. A friend and I were laughing last week about this article:
    http://www.cnn.com/2011/LIVING/03/29/chicken.sitter.mnn/index.html?hpt=C2#

    Be both also raise what I was spelling as “Airacondas” LOL Obviously I couldn’t spell it correctly. Raised ’em strictly for the novelty of green eggs, all the kids’ think they are cool. Even had a couple make Show & Tell at school. The teacher said it was the spinach that made green eggs and ham, and my niece corrected her. I get now about 1/2 & 1/2 green to brown daily.

    I never saw a movable pen before. I just have a chicken yard. The hens here won’t use the nests. I have probably 100 of those white 5 gal oil buckets and the hens prefer those. I guess its more private down there.

    As to your lost chickens maybe its the predator birds. I lose probably a half a dozen a year to hawks, owls, and eagles, (especially just before cane season). Old neighbor said to get a goose or guineas and it would cure the problem but….. I, like the predatory birds, don’t think the noise is worth the hassle. I just count it as part of the cost to have fresh eggs.

    Fresh eggs are definitely the way to go.

    Going green? The chicken “droppings” are the world’s best fertilizer. Seriously!

  8. Would you believe I received an “Ag” catalog in the mail today with portable chicken pens. They didn’t have wheels though. Just 4 short handles, so it’s a 2 person job. The handles are so short, you’d have bruised shins after every move if you didn’t shuffle your feet. I’d pick wheels any day!

  9. Blu had about 125 chickens as a baby of 5. 5 years old and 5 siblings. Also hatched fighting cocks, $1 apiece for males I kept hens. I sold about 30 dozen eggs a week to egg buyer not counting family use . Never had Araucana’s but had plenty others including giant white rock hybrids about 3 feet tall. Get some Guinea hens TiDu will like you for ridding the place of pests. And they are very self sufficient. Baby chicks in all the fleet farm stores here now. Hmmmm… zoning laws grrrr….

    Deeply and profoundly jealous but only 13 months from ‘living the dream’

    Great tillers for garden too.

    These are camp birdies, eh?

  10. Apologies for swerving away from the chickens, but I wanted to be sure everyone saw this. You may already know about it, but I didn’t want to assume.

    There are regular spots on Houston radio these days about the coming litigation with TransOcean.
    I managed to write down the website address and checked it out when I got home. This is from the initial paragraph of the online notice:

    A New Orleans federal court is overseeing litigation against companies involved in the oil spill and has approved the content of this notice. A trial will be held in February 2012. The trial will decide whether Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig, can limit what it pays claimants under Maritime law.

    To preserve your ability to recover money damages against Transocean and include your claim in this trial, the Court filing deadline is April 20, 2011.

    If you had a personal injury, loss of earnings, property damage, business loss, or other economic loss from the oil spill you may be able to participate.

    You can find the notice and more information here.

    This is NOT the same as the GCCF claims process.

    This may be old news to everyone, but since it’s suddenly all over the radio, I thought it was worth bringing it over. It may be that a judge has just approved the notice being posted.

    • This is information I have not yet seen anywhere. So, yes, thank you very much for sharing with the readers here, me especially! Selfish of me, eh? I will look into it and see how it might apply to my businesses. Thanks again, Linda!

      • Oh. It just occurred to me…

        Is it possible they were legally required to post notice, but chose to do it in the Houston market, where…ummm…fewer people actually affected by the spill would see it?

        Just sayin’…… 😉

        • You gotta wonder, right? That’s why I thank you so very much for being so thoughtful of us folks down here. I forwarded on to an attorney friend who will see this on Monday and I’m sure he will respond to me ASAP. Will let you know . . .

  11. You are not being selfish at all but, a shrewd and conscientious business woman.

    I watch the news and read the paper but, hadn’t heard about this either. Good luck to all effected by the spill.

    ps: those who suggest guineas are right about the riddance of pests. They didn’t touch the plants in the garden like the chickens did but, all the fleas, ticks, grasshoppers, ants, etc. were on their menus. And, there eggs are very good also. Thick shelled but, good.

  12. BW-I used to have some of those chickens and also som true aricaunas(slightly different looking) also blue/green egg layers. I used to sell my eggs and one lady always wanted me to save the green/blue ones for easter so she didnt have to dye eggs lol. At one time I had 48 hens and 2 roosters. One of my roosters also got very mean and spiked me one day. EJ had a cure for that- Gumbo! When I got home from work the next day He (the rooster,not EJ) was in the pot. The chicken tractor looks cool! have fun with your chickens-I really enjoyed mine for many years, until EJ got so Ill they became more than I could handle. then they all went in the freezer and made many pots of good yard chicken gumbo.(Yard chicken gumbo is the best kind of gumbo!)

  13. I can mail you a rooster! The one next door that wakes me and the dog up every morning at 4:30 a.m. can be gladly mailed to you. Oh wait, I don’t want to be woke up by him in June on vacation. 🙂

  14. Where can I get directions to make this wonderful contraption. We have seen a similar one on the internet but can’t get directions to make one. Any help would be appreciated. BTW where do the chickens go when you move it?

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