One of the problems associated with raising chickens in suburbia is keeping them off the patio.Nancy and I, I forgot to mention, have two Rhode Island Reds, delightful birds in every way, who provide eggs for the table and fertilizer for the garden, but who love nothing better than to stroll on up to the patio and feast on Nancy’s potted begonias and poop on the patio deck. Chicken poop, it turns out, has a unique chemical property that when it comes in contact with any concrete or masonry-type substance, such as a patio deck, instantly anneals itself to the surface with an epoxy-like bond that would defy a NASA scientist to scrub off. For a while I kept a squirt gun on the patio, and when the chickens approached, would shoot at them.But the water gun was pretty low caliber, more of a water derringer, actually, and it did little to dissuade the birds.They may have actually enjoyed the challenge, a challenge.A little spice of danger to season the begonias. Anyway, after failed attempts with the squirt-derringer, I decided to bring out the Big Guns.
The big guns in this case being a “Scare Crow,” a sprinkler with a motion detector that goes off whenever something approaches.I set it up on the steps leading to the patio.And waited.Sure enough, within a few minutes the sprinkler went off, there was a frantic clucking, and I saw my hens achieve the maximum lift-off of their chicken ability and head back down the yard.Mission accomplished.The only teensy drawback is that the Scarcecrow doesn’t have a specific setting for “chicken” vs "human being" but fires indiscriminately at any motion.Squirrels, birds, me.This means effectively the patio is off limits for me as well.However, I hope this is only a temporary measure.
I once saw in a fair a chicken in a glass box who for a dime would play you a game of tic-tac-toe.I do not think the chicken knew she was playing tic-tac-toe, and I have no idea how good a player she was; I use this example purely to show chickens can be trained.In the fullness of time, I trust, my chickens can learn to stay of the patio.And the Scarecrow is a very effective teacher.In the meantime, however, the patio is a no-man’s-land as well as a no-chicken’s-land.The begonias have it all to themselves. (Originally Posted April, 2012)