When I first mentioned to my husband Al that I wanted to get some chickens in Costa Rica he thought I had lost my mind.
Al and I met in 1998 through business, I was divorced for 8 years and had over 20 years in the dairy business and when we purchased our finca in Costa Rica in 2005, we had no idea how our lives would change.
Being the animal lovers we are, one of the first things we did was rescue a huge Rottweiler that had been abused and after that we adopted another puppy. Things were wonderful until two years ago when we were bombarded with ticks.
They were everywhere, even on the walls of the house. The dogs were unfortunately infested with them. We had to take the Rotti to the vet where he was bathed in a special medication three times a week to get rid of the ticks.
Now, we are not advocates of chemicals and do not use them on the finca but reluctantly we had to this one time. Our wonderful vet, Gilbert told us that we should get some chickens so that they could eat the ticks.
That was the beginning of our search for chickens. One thing I had discovered in Costa Rica, that chickens are more valuable than gold. Nobody wanted to sell us chickens. I couldn’t believe it. Finally a good friend of mine Dominic who has lived in the area for many years rounded up an old rooster and 3 old hens.
Plus I found a local feed store that had young laying hens for sale at $6 US. Wow! For 2 month old chickens. But I bit the bullet and bought 6.
In the beginning we learned the hard way. I saw the locals let their chickens run free with apparently no security at night. It didn’t take long that one or two of the smaller ones would be missing in the morning. After losing about 4, the culprit ended up to be a massive Boa constrictor. Yikes! I was freaked right out.
Then one of our hens was sitting on fourteen eggs in one of the horse stalls that were not in use. One afternoon, I come home from riding with my girlfriends only to discover that all the eggs that a perfect round hole in them and everything had been sucked clean.
The shells were still intact.
I asked Maria — a local that came from the farm, what kind of animal could do this. Apparently a possum. Never did I dream raising chickens in a tropical country was going to be such a challenge. The next day around 2 pm I heard Minnie, my rescued Tico dog barking like crazy. So I go out to investigate and there was a huge iguana trying to raid more eggs. The battle was going on, back and forth. I was afraid to distract Minnie for fear of her being bit. So I went in the house to get the camera.
Before I knew it Minnie flipped the thief upside down and finished him off. She stood over it so proudly and claimed that HE was the one responsible for the egg feast.
Now, I don’t give up easy. So I thought, I have to change first the area where I kept the chickens. The old chicken shelter was too low for a high roost and not secure.
So rather then spending a ton of money, I found a big roll of green plastic netting that we bought for a wind breaker. Chevito, my staff laughed at my hammering and stapling. When I was done the horse stall was covered from top to bottom, with the netting. There was not an open spot that an animal could get in at night.
The next thing we did was build a tall roost so that the chickens could get high. I also bought a couple of bales of hay and put one bale by the bottom of the roost so they could jump up and keep going up from there.
If you think chickens are dumb think again. Chickens by nature are curious and will check things out. It didn’t take long and the old hens had it pegged. After a lot of pecking order for the best and highest spots, everybody settled into their places.
Chevito, my hired man is amazing, he has taught our 3 dogs to respect the chickens and they run free side by side. Its so funny to see two huge Rottis laying on the car port with chickens walking all around their heads.
And the ticks and scorpions are real scarce since we have our chicken army.
Plus there is nothing like the taste of fresh free range eggs in the morning. Hmm, hmmm! Life is good, down on the farm.
Written by Junglewoman Jessa York in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. Jessa was in the dairy business in Saskatchewan, Canada for over 20 years and raised chickens, 3 children, over 20 Arabian and other thoroughbred horses. Riding horses, reading, “making a difference” and digging in the earth are her passions and therapy.
Costa Rica’s Chicken Whisperer Jessa York
Article/Property ID Number 2718
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