Our house and barn sit at the crossing of two country roads. My girls are pretty good about staying on our (presently) fence-free property, but long-time readers might remember the issues we had here at Heedley’s Hens last fall and winter with 1.0 crossing both roads, in search of forage. Hilarity ensued. Also, tragedy.
Before I get lectured by the chickeneering community at large, please allow me to reiterate that my chickens cross the road and forage on my neighbours’ properties with my neighbours’ permission and hearty blessings. We have horrendous tick issues here this time of year, and the girls are more than welcome.
We have traffic here at Heedley’s Hens. The street which runs east/west has stops signs in both directions, and is not the problem. (Unless you call the occasional traffic jam waiting for a hen to cross a problem. Including trucks and school buses.) The street which runs north/south is another matter entirely. Not only are there no stop signs at the intersection, but the 40 mph speed limit is frequently ignored.
To make matters worse, southbound traffic reaches our property as the road is rising, just in time to meet the intersection. The intersection is largely invisible to southbound traffic until one is upon it, and I’m sure I don’t need to paint you a picture of the dangers. Since I’ve been here, I’ve witnessed two virtually-identical car accidents: a speeding southbound car ploughing into the rear passenger corner of a westbound car, which was emerging, lawfully, into the intersection from a stop. Westbound traffic can’t see down the slope, and has no chance of clearing the intersection if an oncoming southbound car is speeding.
These accidents, unsurprisingly, always seem to happen at 6am.
So, what does this mean for the free-ranging chicken at large? We’ve had one close call, I’m pretty sure, when Abby was badly injured last spring. It had to be a car; it just had to be. We were very lucky that she has recovered so fully.
The well-being of my chickens is not my only concern, of course. What if a driver should cause an accident swerving to avoid one of my girls? The legal and moral implications could be enormous. I needed to do something.
Some months ago, after even more months of good intentions, I purchased a couple of chicken crossing signs from a vendor on eBay. I looked at a lot of them online, and finally decided on these because they are large, visually clear, and made of aluminum, not plastic. They are also the best price I could find, by far, for such high quality. I am delighted with them. It was not until today, however, that I actually got them up.
I am most concerned about northbound and southbound traffic, of course, as the stop signs on the east/west road do most of the work for us.
I erected one sign, the one that can be seen by southbound traffic coming up the slope, on a tree just near our well. I’ve been watching this tree for months as I drive up that slope, and the trunk, about six feet up, can be seen from a great distance, even given the angle of the slope. It’s ample warning to anyone who is paying even the slightest attention, and has minimally-functional peripheral vision. Which is asking a lot, I know.
I walked down the slope several times, power screwdriver on hand, to be sure both the height and the left/right angle were optimal. I’m very happy with the result.
The sign for northbound cars was simpler, as the road is level. There is a large tree right at the southeast corner of our property, and I put it there:
As a bonus, I was able to angle it in such a way that it is easily visible by westbound traffic, as well as northbound. One more sign facing eastbound traffic, and I will feel I have done my bit to give people the heads up.
If I could change one thing, it would be to swap out the first sign for one that is a bit larger, as it needs to be seen from such a distance. I don’t have to worry about them being reflective, as my girls are never out at night, but these signs can only contribute to the health and welfare of my outdoor cats, as well, two of whom are black.
So, there you have it. I’m ready for the girls to go foraging farther afield now. As the sergeant said on Hill Street Blues: “Be careful out there!”.