A cluck, cluck here………

So it has come to my attention that I haven’t talked about the chickens much lately. That’s mostly because I have worked myself into quite the conundrum about what to do with their current situation. What current situation, you might be asking yourselves….. Well, follow along now….

As you most likely already know, chickens like to run in packs (usually referred to as a flock in the chicken world ;p ). Last fall, our flock of chickens had dwindled down to only 5 members, so George and I decided that we would get some more come Spring. Which we did. We bought 9 little baby chicks this past May from Hanson Grain in Hanson, MA. They were so adorable! And I had just the right number of new baby chicks to name each one loosely after the Nurse Practitioners I work with. So there’s Jojo, Lizzy, Heather, Lindsey, Meg, Jill, Cindy, Erin, Coco, and Carrie. More on Carrie in just a sec…..Here’s little Coco trying to escape shortly after we got the little chicks, when they were still residing in the house….always the instigator. Down below is little Erin, being lead down the primrose path….. 😀

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Shortly prior to the arrival of the new peeps, we also acquired 2 other chicks. One cool April evening, on her regular daily run, one of the ladies I work with, Stephanie, heard some chirping off in the distance. When she stopped to investigate, she found 4 baby chicks that had been left abandoned on the side of the road in a cardboard box. While you’re wondering who would do such a thing, try to console yourself with the fact that Stephanie found them and asked if I would take them. I think we all know what my answer was.Here they are in their little box.

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Stephanie really went to heroic lengths to rescue them. Even so, only one of them actually made it to my house–and that was with the help of one of the other NPs that I work with–Carrie. So sad.Here’s the car ride home from the hospital. Carrie literally sang and hummed to her all the way home to console her. It worked!

We named the surviving chick–what else–Stephanie. And since chicks need friends, we went to Hanson Grain and got just one chick so baby chick Stephanie could have some company. We named the chick friend Carrie, of course. Initially, Stephanie tried to kill Carrie, but now they are very best friends. Stephanie is the Rhode Island Red on the left and Carrie is the Buff Orpington on the right in this picture.

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So–to line it all up for you– we now have the original 5 (group 1), Carrie & Stephanie (group 2) and the 9 new baby chicks (group 3). That’s 16 chickens, in total.This is Jojo, slinking around in the bushes.

We had not anticipated the difficulty of combining 3 separate groups of chickens. It’s a little trickier than you would think! It never occurred to us that we couldn’t just throw them all together to make one big hen party! No, no….when we first put them all together outside in the coop, they were all 3 separate warring factions! There is a reason they call it a “pecking order” in the chicken world. This picture is Meg….. by far the friendliest of the new group.

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It has taken them a little while to assimilate into the outside world together. And don’t think I didn’t have the thoughts of just building 2 new chicken coops for the 2 new groups of chickens, making our own little “chicken village”. I’ve said it a million times…..thank goodness George is the voice of reason and reassured me that they would learn to live with each other. This is Cindy, with Jill in front. They’re part of the group of new chicks.

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So at this point, we still have essentially 3 separate flocks of chickens, but as the days go past, they all seem to become a little bit more tolerant of each other. I’m constantly cogitating on various ideas of how I can help them learn to be one big flock. But as time goes by and I see that they’re gradually becoming more used to each other, I’ve started having the thought that I just might not have to do anything. As one of my favorite people at work always says, “sometimes doing nothing is the right thing to do”. Stephanie and Carrie started off as enemies and now are never apart. Maybe I’ll just leave them alone, after all. They seem to know how to make it work. The lessons you learn from your backyard chickens….

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Happy chickens, happy humans…..

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This is Etta. She’s one of our 9 remaining chickens. We started off with 12. One was a rooster. He was mean. Really mean. He tried to kill me every time I went into the yard. And I was the one feeding him! He went to live at the farm. No,really. I couldn’t bear to put him in the pot or send him anywhere that might. So we found a real farm couple who needed an aggressive rooster and they came and got him. Walked into the coop in the dark of night and picked him up like a boss.

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After that, our beloved Peggy, an Americauna, went missing.  Just didn’t show up to the coop at night. We never found a single feather’s evidence of her anywhere.  You should know that we let our chickens roam free anywhere on our property.  They have free range. Most of the time, they never leave our property.  Occasionally, they might hop the rock wall and venture into a nearby neighbor’s place, but they always come right back.  Except that night. Peggy never returned.

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Since the rooster went to live at the farm, we’ve been rooster-less. People frequently ask us if we are afraid of hawks and other predators without a rooster. The answer is, not really. The ladies do a good job of banding together on the couple of occasions they’ve needed to when a hawk has swooped down. Our coop is secure enough at night that I don’t worry. One afternoon, I saw a hawk swoop out of the sky and plow into the entire group of chickens. George ran outside to thwart any potential deleterious activity and all seemed okay. But all wasn’t okay.  We later found poor Nancy, also an Americauna,  dead in the coop. It seems she had suffered the brunt of the blunt trauma from the hawk. And a rooster wouldn’t have prevented that.

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So that’s how the 12 became 9–3 Rhode Island Reds, 3 Plymouth Rocks, 2 Buff Orpingtons and 1 Americauna. Etta. The friendliest of all the chickens. My favorite. I often wonder if she misses Nancy and Peggy. I know she probably doesn’t and I have a bad habit of anthropomorphizing my animals. She is doing well and seems happy. Which is all that matters. We feed them well, give them plenty of space to roam and a safe place to sleep at night. Makes for a happy chicken life. In return, they give us the best eggs ever and lots of entertainment! Makes for a happy human life!IMG_1776

 

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