I’m still looking after the baby chickens from next door – the ones who have apparently decided they don’t want to go home. During the day they continue to keep to themselves when the rest of the neighbours’ chooks come over here, and today I noticed they ran to a more secluded spot when one of roosters appeared, so maybe that’s been the problem for them all along: the damn roosters.
At night I continue to put them into a cardboard box and cover it with insect screen, but three of the chickens are growing so quickly they’ll soon be too tall for this arrangement. This weekend I started making a proper timber roost for them. By the time I’ve finished construction they’ll be able to sleep outside on their own roosts, in their own house, in their own pen.
So, this is starting to look permanent. But it can’t be permanent because I have to move out in December. It’s stupidly impractical to think about taking the chickens with me to live somewhere else, but that’s what I’m thinking. I looked up the local council regulations regarding backyard poultry, and both Byron and Ballina Councils will allow it under certain conditions. And I’ve looked up ways to make a portable coop and pen for them (variously called a chicken tractor, chook mower, egg mobile, hoop house, or other things, depending on how it’s made and how often it’s moved). If I could find a rental place with a backyard (a big if for a single person on a yet-to-be-found income) taking the chickens with me would be possible.
And I’ve thought about ways to justify keeping chickens who legally aren’t mine. Is it stealing? I’m saying it’s not, but if I had to argue the case I’d probably lose.
I think I’m doing the right thing morally. The chickens want to live here, apparently, and they don’t want to go home, also apparently. They made the decision, not me. I’m just trying to help them. They’re refugees. I’m giving them refuge.
But I like having them around, too, and I’d really like to take them with me when I go. The other day when I was driving around one of the towns on my list of possible places to live I was thinking about whether it felt like a good environment for backyard chooks. The chickens have already become a consideration when I try to plan my future.
This is stupid. And there’s still a month in which they might decide to go home again, or they might get eaten by a fox, or … Who knows, anything could happen. Maybe I’ll decide the neighbours really should be informed after all and they’ll turn up for the first time ever to check on their wandering flocks and will take the chickens home.
If that happened – if the chicks were forced to go home – it would feel like I’d let them down. And from a self-centred point of view, I do want them to stay. I like them being here; I like looking after them; I like wandering around outside to find out where they are and what they’re doing. Just the sight of them makes me happy. Dear little chickies.