Dark Secret

Posted by on May 2, 2015 in Chickens Diaries
Dark Secret

Hi, my name is Carolyn and I have rats, I mean chickens. Actually, I mean both.

My vision of chicken keeping goes like this, seven laying hens clucking and scratching the grass in the sunshine. Nest boxes with clean chips and fresh eggs by noon each day. In the evening, the sun slips over the horizon while orderly birds climb to perches, fluff their feathers, and snuggle together for the night.

Unwanted visitors are not part of my plan, but still they come.

They come while the ladies sleep in a feathery heap. I don’t see them, only evidence: food scattered on the coop floor and small droppings in the nest boxes. If an egg is left out overnight, it may be broken in the nest in the morning, the mark of midnight marauders.


Some people feed birds. They leave out seed, bird baths, and nest boxes in hopes of attracting different species. We feed chickens…and the rats.

So, after asking around, this is what I have learned: If you have chickens, you have rats, unless you have cats.

I searched the web and discovered that our county animal shelter gives away barnyard cats. I read up about how to acclimate a cat to your yard, journeyed south to the shelter, and took the plunge. We can look at this from two angles, I have a feisty black and white mouser I saved from certain euthanasia, or I have a feral cat trapped in a small box in the back of my car. What was I thinking?

A while back, my husband was at a backyard barbecue. People were gathered around the grass and patio, ice cubes clicked in plastic cups, the smell of cooking burgers wafted upward, and a rat scurried along the fence. Nice house, nice neighborhood, beautifully landscaped yard, and rats. They did not have chickens. No one else noticed the rodent. My husband said nothing.

We now know that we are not alone. More of us share this dark secret than we thought. That day, we realized that many of us have rats–unless of course, we have cats.

Hi, my name is Carolyn; I have backyard chickens and one extremely happy cat.


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