The story we tell often at the winery is one about the chickens. See, we were city folks. I lived in the city all my life. I have lived in cities throughout the United States. My husband grew up in Oakland, and spent summers in Italy. His family lived in the country, and I had family that lived in the country.
We longed for a life in the country, not so remote that we were far away from anything or anyone. We wanted something that was perfect for us. We looked in northern California, and we learned that what we wanted we couldn’t get zoning for in the area where we were looking. We were told to take our dream to San Luis Obispo or Santa Barbara. We found exactly what we were looking for, then we needed some chickens.
We got our chickens…I would come home with 10, my husband would come home with 15. I would come home with 20, he would come home with 25. We finally had to stop going to country stores that were offering baby chicks. OMG! They were just too temping, and we were just too weak.
We made them special herbal water to keep them strong, and had little heat lamps over them in the giant tanks. We used water tanks to make nurseries. We lined each one with pine strips, had water containers inside, as well as food containers. We checked on them several times a day, and once a week, we took out each one of the chickens to clean out the tank.
Then our houses arrived, and they were beautiful. People were so enamored with our little houses. We waited for the chickens to get their tail feathers fully formed before we moved them to their new digs. Honestly, it seemed to take so damn long. Once they were in the houses, we took the care of them in their houses for two weeks. We would open the front door of their house to see if anyone of the chickens would venture out of the house. Finally, by the third day they came outside in their little yard.
Everything was going great until we were attending the football games. We would go to the high school football games, and lock up the chickens doors at night. Then when we came home then in the morning we would discover that there would be 15 missing. Just as we purchased them, the coyotes and foxes caught them.
There was one fox I saw on our property that I would have gladly given a chicken to, if he would have asked me. He was beautiful, but he was so healthy because of all the chickens of ours that he ate.
Now, our little chicken area is like a ghost town. Don’t let anyone tell you that free range is easy, it’s only easy for the coyotes and foxes to obtain a meal.