Opinion

Fighting Fire with Fire

Funny Chickens
Written by Skid Crease

Just Sayin’ Caledon guest author Skid Crease ends the year with a hilarious tongue-in-cheek follow-up piece to the fight over feathers that had Caledon Council scrambling earlier this year for a consensus about whether to allow backyard chickens in Caledon. As usual Skid’s free range thinking may ruffle a few feathers but, as they say, laughter is the best medicine…..

There is a new horror story in Town … BEAKS! Just when you thought it was safe to walk back into the coop, it turns out that those pesky backyard hens are pyromaniacs at heart, just waiting for the chance to turn themselves into rotisserie sacrifices for Colonel Sanders.

In Part One of this trilogy, Henny Penny and Chicken Little had squawked about the Backyard Hens waging biological warfare on Caledon. They raised fears of salmonella poisoning wiping out our children and avian flu spreading to our factory farms and wiping out our economy. That turned out to be false. The proverbial Fox News in the chicken coop, so to speak.

Now, in Part Two, Henny Penny is back at it again, this time raising fears of Caledon burning to the ground from unattended chicken coop heaters. Henny Penny reportedly found a story on her favourite Backyard Chicken site on the dark web. Some person improperly heating their coop sadly lost their pet chickens in a fire that nearly spread to their house. Note to self: 1. Don’t build your residential coop close to your house. 2. Don’t heat it.

Fortunately, Rooster Cogburn researched fire safety in Ontario, Canada and found the following: zero fatalities from backyard chicken coop fires. Turns out the number one cause of fires is home cooking, especially those deep fat fryers used for southern fried chicken and chips. In fact, cooking, smoking and arson were the top three causes of house fires, with heating equipment, electrical malfunction and candles coming in at the end.

You are therefore in greater danger of burning down your house and the Town by cooking your chickens than getting fresh eggs from them. Fortunately, your chickens, in a properly built coop, don’t need winter heating. The exception being their water supply. That, of course, you will make sure is on a Ground Fault Interrupter (GFI) circuit.

Chickens can withstand cold winter temperatures, especially our hardy Canadian breed, the Chantecler. Also, lighting and heating their coop over the winter will only force them into egg laying in the season when the girls should be getting a break. If the nest box area is insulated, the floor covered with deep shavings, a little passive solar input for sunny days, and the ventilation properly situated, your hens will be just fine. They are, after all, wearing down jackets. Keep the door to the run open in the daytime, because you’ll find them out playing in the snow – nobody likes to be “cooped up” all winter.

In a really cold snap, like the one we are experiencing now, a single 60watt red light bulb (available from any pet store as a reptile heat bulb (about $20.00 for a 2pack) will do the trick. NOTE: Do NOT use a white light bulb which will throw off their winter diurnal cycle and force unseasonal egg laying.

Do not do stupid things, like heating the coop with candles, or a wood burning stove, or an open filament electrical heater, or a gas BBQ. It’s to be hoped that the caregivers are smarter than the chickens. Most of us in Caledon who are interested in backyard hens won’t be starting up until the spring, so we have months to prepare to do it properly. For those who need to see it in action, visit the Albion Hills Community Farm this spring where the two model demonstration coops will be open for viewing. For those wanting more information now, contact Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs for your FREE resource kit on backyard poultry titled “Keeping Your Birds Healthy” :  ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca

Note to Self: order a resource kit for Henny Penny…

Above all, please remember the old adage: good research does not mean pressing Google on your computer screen and going to the first site that appears. If we did that, everyone with a headache to diagnose would have concluded that they have a tumour, or meningitis, or subdural and epidural hematomas, or cerebral venous sinus thrombosis. Oh, my! And please remind Henny Penny:  If you play with fire, you’re likely to get burned.

About the author

Skid Crease

Skid is an internationally respected, award winning educator, author, keynote speaker & storyteller. An environmental & outdoor education specialist. Accredited member Canadian Association of Journalists. “Always leave your campsite cleaner than you found it.”

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3 Comments

  • ……this sounds like the same Henny Penny that raised the spectre of Canadian Tire making hydrogen bombs at their Bolton facility

    • Hi Andy,

      You’re pretty close! Actually, the “hydrogen bomb” story came from Chicken-licken, Henny Penny’s trusted follower. Either way, they usually cluck the same chorus together. Equally misinformed.

      🐣 Skid