In Sum

I think I should do a brief recap of the content in this blog. In May 2014 I ordered five small chicks- three standard brown egg-layers and two easter eggers (all supposedly female).

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A few days later two chicks passed away (RIP Aida and Elvia). I was left with Sybil, Mary, and Edith, with which everything went splendidly until about 10 weeks in. At this point I realized that instead of “three little hens” I had two roosters, and one hen. Thus, Sybil/Sid was sadly sent to a nearby chicken owner. Edith is still in the picture, though his crowing and aggression is increasing every day. We will have to see.

My three little hens

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On Friday, I bought two new chickens. One Rhode Island Red hen named Cora, and an Easter Egger whose name I have not yet thought of. An hour after these chickens entered my life, the Easter Egger squeezed through an opening in the fence and took off. For three days she lived in my backyard somewhere, coming back to visit every so often. Finally, yesterday I managed to trick her into entering the run.

Before I put the chickens to bed yesterday, I noticed that Mary’s face was bloody from a bite wound (courtesy of Edith). I separated her for the night and got help with her wound care from my mother and neighbor.

As of now, my blog title finally makes sense. I can proudly say that I am the owner of three little hens.

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All’s Well That Ends Well… Sort of…

The first part of today was spent walking through crowded streets underneath colorful leaves, looking at crafts and food. A festival of sorts. We dined on Apple Pie with cheese, fried dough with maple cream, indian pudding, and all sorts of food that we probably shouldn’t have eaten. It was a beautiful, sunny, crisp fall morning and afternoon. A perfect way to spend a Fall day!

But my mind would not stop wandering to my little hen (if I can even call her “mine”) all alone out in the wilderness, with no protection. Therefore, when we got home, the first place I went was the chicken coop. Edith, Mary, and Cora (the Rhode Island Red’s new name) were pecking around as usual. Whenever Cora looked at Mary the wrong way, she got a pecking to the neck/back, followed by a loud squawk.

I figured that I may as well let Edith and Mary out to see if they draw out The Escapee. So I locked Cora in the bottom of the coop (I don’t want her escaping and banding with her friend), and opened up the run. They pecked around for a bit, nonchalantly strolling through the grass while I hid behind the coop with a bag of scratch. However, when they heard the rustling of the bag of cracked corn and mealworms they came bolting over, giving away my position. This went on for a good forty minutes or so, with still no sign of The Escapee. I hadn’t seen her since Saturday morning. Finally I gave up and put them back in the run, letting Cora out as well. I began to go inside when out of no where a little white chicken came bouncing down the line of trees towards the run.

She just trotted right up, than spotted me, and disappeared into the trees immediately. But then I thought that maybe, just maybe, I could let Mary out and have her encourage The Escapee to come forth from the shrubbery. I locked Cora and Edith in the bottom of the  coop, swung open the fencing once more, and sat back on the steps about a hundred feet away. Sure enough, a white blob with fluffy cheeks came bounding through the grass. She headed straight into the little run, and when she got to the back, I sprinted as fast as my feet could carry me towards the run, slamming it shut right before The former Escapee’s eyes. Mary looked at me with confusion from the ear of corn she was pecking in the corner of the yard.

Grinning with relief, I sat in the grass. A heavy weight that was pressing on my shoulders was immediately released. I was grateful. After ten minutes of sitting there, I saw Edith lunge at Mary’s neck, just out of nowhere. Mary screeched, and lunged at Cora’s neck. It was bizarre, like a literal version of the pecking order. A few more minutes passed, I left and came back, only to see that Mary’s face was covered in blood, and part of her waddle or earlobe was split and hanging. Swearing, I frantically ran into the enclosure and grabbed her in my arms. She cooed, not struggling at all, while I placed her in a fenced in space next to the run. A few texts were sent to my neighbor/chicken supplier/boss, who promptly responded with advice.

Close to tears, I clumsily tried to wipe off her feathers with a wet sterile pad. Suddenly my mother appeared, and kindly prepared some antiseptic and gauze. She cleaned out the wound with ease and gentleness while Mary snuggled against me in my lap. After putting on some antibacterial, I put her back in the separate enclosure, and went inside to prepare my dog’s crate for chicken habitation.

My neighbor/chicken supplier/boss also appeared at the driveway, and inspected the wound. Than she applied something called Blue Kote, which makes the wound appear blue instead of red. This is useful because it discourages pecking, which can quickly turn cannibalistic when dealing with chickens.

Poor baby :(

Poor baby 😦

She seemed to think that it was perfectly fine, and not a big deal. Which leads me to think that the worst is yet to come :(.

Currently, Mary is snoozing in the basement in pine shavings with access to food, water, and grit. I’ll reintegrate her into the flock tomorrow (meaning I will put her back). Hopefully it won’t confuse the pecking order even further.

A word of caution. None of this is professional advice for wound care. In fact, quite the opposite. I really have no idea what I am doing. I’m just a girl who wants a taste of farming, who convinced her parents to let her buy a couple of chickens. Yes, I researched (and still am researching) a lot of chicken stuff beforehand, and yes I came across “words of caution” just like this one. Did I listen? Nope.

What I am trying to say, is that raising chickens isn’t all sunshine, baby chicks, cuddling birds, and colorful eggs. In the 23 weeks I have had these chickens, I have probably dealt with more stress, heartbreak, and fear in my entire life. Two baby chicks have died in my hands, I have been attacked by a cockerel I raised from  three days old, I have had to sell that bird to a man who I do not even know (with the only other solution being sell the bird to the slaughter-house), I have expected my favorite hen to die right before my eyes as she downed a stray hair-tie that I had inadvertently given her, I have searched and worried for three days straight about a chicken that I accidentally let escape, and I have watched them attack each other relentlessly over the small issue of who is dominant and who is not.

Have I regretted getting Mary and Edith? Not once. I can say without a doubt that this experience is making me a better person, and whatever comes my way I will handle. Because I have to. This responsibility is very real. And I’m loving every single minute of it.

Just Kidding…

Okay, so if you have read the last two posts, than you know today was a rollarcoaster of emotions for me. Last post suggested that it was over, and that everything was going to be okay. Just kidding.

Apparently, the previous owner of the escapee chicken, must have saw one that looked similar and thought she had returned. Nope. Because right when I was about to go out the door for a run at five o’clock, there she was. Yup, this little chicken was hanging out next to the fence, pecking in the grass.

Of course, I started panicking. So before I did anything stupid I called the previous owner, who calmly advised me to simply watch her, and see where she goes to roost. The hope was that if she roosted nearby, I’d be able to go out there and grab her. I sat at the door for an hour and a half, or two hours, watching her peck around. When the sun started going down though, she trotted her little chicken butt all the way through two yards and into the shrubbery, disappearing from view.

It looks like this experience is far from over. What makes it all worse, is that I’m working all day tomorrow, and won’t be able to come home until it gets dark. So this escapee will have to spend another night in the wild.

It has also occurred to me that not everyone knows the chicken vocabulary I’m always using. Surprisingly, I just sort of assumed everyone reads nonfiction books about chickens in their free time. Just to clarify, to roost is a term describing how chickens sleep. When a chicken roosts, they fly up to a tree branch or manmade horizontal piece of wood, sit down, and sleep there. When they are sleeping like this, it is easy to sneak up behind them and grab them. They roost whenever the sun goes down.

I’ll keep you updated, whether you like it or not.

II

Absolutely Positively Wonderful News

They found her! The lost pullet traveled back to her original home down the street! Words can’t describe my joy. Now I can start enjoying my new little pullet more, with that guilty feeling completely gone.

Just thought I should let you guys know. What an experience these two days have been.

A Really Happy Day With A Horrible Ending

Yesterday I finally got two chickens delivered to my coop! She came with her daughter, holding the two chickens by their feet. At first glance I thought they were dead, and there was a horrible misunderstanding. But she calmly assured me that they were in fact alive, and just extremely relaxed.

We put them inside the fence, and the two hens tore around the yard, putting their heads in all the little spaces, looking for an escape. One was whitish, grayish colored with adorable fluffy cheeks, the other a deep auburn color. After chatting for a while, they drove away in her car, and I was left completely alone with my new pullets.

Edith and Mary were chatting away in the fenced in pool area, both of them were extremely interested. At this point it was 6 o’clock, and the sun was already going down, so I figured I should try to get them in the coop so I could corral Mary and Edith back in their fence. These pullets had other ideas. They kept squawking, you could tell they were panicked and scared. I tried to calm them down, and succeeded in getting the auburn chicken inside, but the other just got even more scared when she didn’t see her fellow chicken.

I was just about to grab her when all of a sudden she squeezed through a tiny opening in the fence. Off she went, trotting across the yard, into the bushes. I ran after her, not exactly sure how to catch her if I found her. After weaving back and forth along the hedge, she flew over the trees, across two yards, and disappeared into the woods.

Just, gone.

I was shaking so bad, hyperventilating, and so, so confused. I just didn’t understand how that just happened. How could something so bad happen, after I had just been so overjoyed? I just didn’t get it. I still don’t. I keep thinking I hear a chicken whimpering from over the tree tops. Every squirrel or bird that passes, I think it is her. I am naive enough to think that she survived the night. I am naive enough to think that she would return to me, after the traumatic experience that I just gave her.

It really takes a toll on you, to go from that range of emotions. I just don’t know what to do anymore.

I just have to find a way to get over it. Because I wanted this time to be exciting, I wanted to be smiling, choosing names, not frowning, and moping about. I have to accept that she is gone, because I was irresponsible. And I can never. never. let it happen again.

Last night, Mary and Edith went to bed inside the coop, but the auburn chick stayed out. I went out in the pitch dark to close the roof, and there she was, roosting outside on the wooden handle (you can see where she was going to roost in the picture above). I had to sneak around and snatch her while she was sleeping. After everyone was within the warm coop, I went to bed with a heavy heart.

This morning I sat with them for a while, and Mary and Edith were being horribly cruel towards her. Pecking and chasing her, finally she ran and hid behind me. The poor thing.

Egg Watch

I say this with clenched teeth. Still. No. Egg.

She is 22.5 weeks today. 22 weeks ago she came into my life. But there is nothing. Not even a slight interest in it. The freeloader.

There have been rumblings that I might have my chickens soon, but these rumblings are very quiet. Its frustrating, because I am so darn excited! Oh well. Hopefully by the next time I post something I will have gotten an egg and three additional chickens. I still have to find names for them… If anyone has any ideas, feel free to list them in the comments section. I love getting comments 😀

Waiting for that First Egg

…proves to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I mean, come on Mary! I think its time you contributed! Sing the egg song at least please

They are 21 weeks old and two days as of today. Which means it’s about time for the egg laying to begin! Every morning I search around the coop and inside it for a hidden egg. Nothing. Nada. Zip. I’m getting a little tired of this un-yielding easter egg hunt. Her little face is quite red, but I haven’t heard the raucous egg song, nor have I seen her squatting. She hasn’t even ventured inside the new nest box I got her. That’s right. I bought her a nice little wooden nest box, and filled it with straw so its nice and cozy. Now she has no excuse. What’s frustrating is that the egg could come any time from now to three weeks from now. That’s a big range.

So that’s what’s going on in my life right now. That, and a whole lot of homework, and working. But, I have finally mastered the art of making a soft-serve ice cream cone. At least, they don’t look as terrible anymore…

Also, before I forget, I visited my neighboring farm two weeks ago to look at available chickens. They were scuttling around everywhere hidden under fencing and maple trees, dust bathing in the pig pen or roosting on some milk-stands. I asked for a Rhode Island Red pullet, an Easter Egger pullet, and a little fluffy bantam hen mix. I’m so excited, I can barely talk about it without jumping up and down. She hasn’t been in touch since, but she will have to sneak into the coop at night and grab them, placing them in a different coop until I can come and get them. As I passed the baby goats and snorting pigs, I saw a tiny little bantam with a lavender tinge to her feathers walking along the fence line. I looked again and saw five-day old chicks running behind her, cheeping and hopping, tumbling through the dirt after their mother. Leading the pack of chicks was an older chick, about a week or two. She explained to me that the older chick’s mother had abandoned it, and this little bantam accepted her into her brood. My heart almost melted.

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