True North is:

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Michigan, United States

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Gone But Not Forgotten

Unfortunately we had our first animal tragedy. Our 3 baby chicks are all gone. Gypsy our dog decided they were not a part of the pack, like we hoped she would think. Instead, instincts took over and she ate all 3. It was very sad for us all, but a learning experience none the less. We are still planning to get the 3 larger laying hens, but are undecided on whether to get babies again.


  1. Get rid of the dog. It kills. Can't be trusted.

  2. One aspect of homesteading is learning how animals work together. Some dogs will kill, some don't. If you want to keep chickens, you will probably need to protect them from your dog. I wish you well.....

  3. We did realize the threat our big dog presented...unfortunately our precautions weren't enough.

  4. I'm sorry to hear about the loss of the baby chicks.

    Animals can co-exist. We had a hamster and cat that used to hang out together. Our cat would just lie there and let the hamster lay on top of it. The cat never tried to hurt the hamster.

  5. Loved the USA Today story... Good for you guys!

    Yeah... dogs often can't control the urge to go after chickens/chicks. I have some friends whose farm I visit... the very first time I visited... I let my dog out of the car and he immediately shot out after the chickens.

  6. We had the same thing happen with one of our 4 dogs when we first got chickens. She just kept stalking. I'd scold her. One day she killed half the flock. We should have known.

    Sorry for your loss. Not all dogs are chicken killers.

  7. Get more, try again! Dog will try again too, now that he'll remember the tasty treat you left for him last time. You have to make extra precautions now.

  8. Dont give up on your dog...I have many years experience raising chicks and almost any dog will kill a chick. Once they are out of the chick stage and feathered out, the dog may be just fine. I brood chicks in close contact with the dogs in a brooder made from a plastic container with a lid so the dog sees them all the time that you are caring for them and is close by. It will get use to them and not see them as prey. I have never ended up with one that kills chickens as adults. Chicks are so much more economical than grown laying hens...

  9. I think your dog just needs to get desensitized to the chicks. Maybe put them in a cage and have them around your dog. There's a Dog Whisperer episode with dog vs rabbit. The dog needs to be 'calm submissive' and not in attack mode though.
    Sorry to hear of the carnage.
    I love your site! Keep up the great work!

  10. That's a good idea. Funny you should mention "calm submissive" we used to watch the dog whisperer until we shut the cable off! We'll have to give that a try. Thanks for the kind words.

  11. We went to a sustainability workshop in Central Texas where the owner's dog had eaten about a dozen chickens before anyone noticed they were missing. Her methods were harsh (tie the dog up to a post and beat it with the dead chickens), but during our visit the dog showed no aggression towards any of the birds (geese, chickens and guineas), rabbits or other animals and appeared to have fully recovered from the treatment. Her dogs (she has two) currently sleep under the chicken coops to keep other potential predators away.

  12. That's the problem with older animals (and people, really) - acclimation is a problem with anything. I wish you well, and I'll keep reading to see how you fare.

    On a sidenote, if you have chickens, you should be able to raise pigeons or quail. Both are very good sources of food and potentially lucrative should you sell locally or on a broader scale (pigeons will be somewhat less dependant on provided food, whether storebought or self-grown, but will be a literal flight risk).

    Also, if there are extensive old-growth woodlands on your property and you have the time, look for herbs. I suggest speaking to Allan Lockard at American Botanicals for recommendations on this (tell him Charley Tran referred you), or look around online.

  13. Try a portable electric fence: battery powered, small solar panel to recharge the battery. Commercially available.

    Cured our dog after two zaps. The birds all free range now.

    Tying the carcus to the dog or beating him with it go against all my instincts and morality.

  14. I read an article about your family in the news. That led me to your blog and I am blessed that it did.

    Living simply is something that I desire and a goal to work toward. I look forward to reading of your adventures.



  15. I'm sorry to hear about the chicks.

    We had a cat years ago that played with our daughter's hamster. The cat NEVER tried to harm the hamster. We have pictures of the hamster sleeping on the cat's back.

  16. One cheap but potentially lucrative money-making venture is learning how to grow mushrooms. The more exotic ones bring big $$ from restaurants and grocery stores.
    If you didn't know of them, I recommend two Yahoo groups: offgridlivingandhomesteading and frugal-folks-life. Both have many tips you may find useful. Best of luck! David Neeley

  17. We raised plenty of chickens when I was a boy and we always had dogs. Never lost a single chick to a dog (did lose some hens to hawks though).

    Wanna' know how we did it? We kept the chickens in an enclosed area that dogs/foxes etc couldn't get into.

    Also we had a pretty big mean rooster.

    One day one of the chicks squeezed through the slats in the fence and "escaped". Our little dog gently took it in it's mouth and brought it right into our house and gave it to my father. We were stunned.

    BTW I noticed your dog looks like it has some terrier in it - they tend to have high prey drive (they were bred to kill rats after all)

  18. I found your blog via a news article about your family and ended up spoending several hours reading through your posts on your website. I have it bookmarked and will be following up on your journey.

    I always thought I should have lived in the days of Laura Ingalls Wilder and now you are returning to that style of life. I would love to be doing this too, but unfortunately at this point in time sees this as too much hard work, but they are gradually adopting some money saving changes with me.

    We have switched to all low energy bulbs in the entire house, buy many of our family clothes at resale shops and my children's hand me downs all go to family friends with younger children. We make Strawberry and Raspberry jam every year as a family to use for ourselves and for gifts for friends throughout the year. We also buy food in bulk, watch for sales and stock up when items are on sale, and I cook very frugally and any leftover food get made into other meals including home made soups and stews. I boil down turkey and chicken carcasses and ham bones etc. to make my own soup stock and frequently save the water from cooking vegetables and add it to my stocks as well. all the meat that comes off the bones I pick off and add to my soups.

    Even though I cook for a family of six, I can get at least two meals out of a whole chicken, or a london broil, simply by cooking lots of vegetables with the dinner the first night and then making a soup of stew out of the leftovers the next night. Sometimes if there is enough of the london broil left I will use the rest for a stir fry, fajitas, or a like dish on the second day.

    We can get even more meals out of a large ham or a turkey, making such things as macaroni & cheese with ham casserole, a ham and potato casserole, Ham and bean soup, a turkey and rice dish similar to arroz con pollo etc. With a little creativity we now rarely waste anything.

    I even keep a freezer container to throw in any leftover vegetables I haven't used for something else in my freezer and add any leftovers to it until the next time I make soup, so I always have a good selection of mixed vegetables to add to any soups or stews.

    I buy a lot of beans and lentils, pasta, rice, flour, sugar, etc. in bulk and keep some of these stocks in large glass jars on my counter top so they are easy to get at for every day use. The glass jars I was able to get for free from resturants that would otherwise throw them out. Restaurants often get pickles, maraschino cherries, and other stuff for their restaurant in these jars. I also keep my cookie cutters in these jars.

    Like you did at Christmas we make home made cookies as well from scratch, but not just at Christmas. We usually make at least one home made dessert or cookie each week. It is a great way for me to spend time with one or both of my daughters each week and they are learning to cook as well. Sometimes they even throw me out of the kitchen and cook the sweets all on their own. They have found that the home made cookes are much better than store bought ones and they and their friends enjoy them more. Unfortunately they don't last long enough, even when we make double batches! LOL!

    Anyway, I have gotten some ideas from you and I hope you have gotten some from me. The best of luck and well wishes to your family.

  19. Ahh poor little guys! we are planning on getting some chicks so I'll have to make sure to watch out for the animal instincts around us!! love the blog! I'm going to become a follower!

  20. I read about your family in USA Today. I congratulate you on such a major decision and wish you the best.

    Sorry to hear about the baby chicks.

  21. hello, sorry about your babies. if you would like somemore let me know i have roos and pullets that are almost 4 weeks old. roadisland reds, game hens, doms,north stars. the stars are good layers too.our e-mail is we are back to the the good old days now to. milk goat,lots of chickens,garden.goat milk brings 5 bucks a qt here. its better for you. good luck and god bless you and your love ones. christine kirby, hilham tenn.

  22. We started our lifestyle change about 5 years ago; built a small cabin, got chickens, sold the extra eggs, added on to the small cabin, got out of debt, started deer hunting, and are adding our bedroom on now. Can't beat it! I wish you all much luck. As for the chicks, we've gone through 4 dogs that killed dozens of grown chickens and chicks before we could get rid of them. On the other hand, our 7 year old black lab is our chicken babysitter. We have ducks now, too. I'll be keeping track of you! - Sunshine