Friday, April 12, 2013

So What's Up With The Chickens?

Well, it's been a bit of a roller coaster.  Sadly, we lost all of our baby chicks that we got last year.  Rosie died the second day we had her.  She was really weak, but while the girlies were at school, I made her very short life comfortable as I fed her with an eye dropper and kept her well hydrated and warm.  Unfortunately, she just was not meant to survive.  Though her life was short, she was treated with love and tenderness every minute.  It was very painful for Madeline since Rosie was her's.   I told Madeline that I knew she was hurting and that God was right by her side and feeling her pain. I said that it was times like this that we need to lean on Him for comfort because He knows our hurts better than anybody else. Madeline got a really soft blankie to wrap Rosie up in and we put her in box. We were in the process of burying her when I got a call from the feed store where we got our chicks. A lady had ordered 4 chicks and wanted to know if she could change her order to 3. God, in the midst of us burying Rosie, gave us a new baby.  Her name is Blossom.  We finished making a special place in our flower garden for Rosie and headed to the feed store to get "Blossom".  Lexie and Buttercup lost their lives to a raccoon (or raccoons).  It was a night that I had locked up the big girls and Ron didn't realize that I had.  We had not fully integrated the original chickens with the new younger pullets.  The babies were sleeping in the run, and the hens were in the coop.  He was making a roost for them and I figured he'd just lock the gate when he was done.  The babies were inside where they belonged  but he didn't realize that the original hens were already in the coop so he left the run door open.  Alas we lost Lexie and Buttercup that night.  When Tara went out that morning to let the chickens out for the day, the evidence of the raccoon's was undeniable.  They had taken the bodies of Lexie and Buttercup and left a ton of feathers everywhere.  Tara came in the house in a total panic as you can imagine.  I bolted out of the house followed by both my girlies and we began calling to our babies and discovered that Blossom had survived, completely unhurt and hiding in the garage!  It was clear that she was traumatized though.  She was so exhausted.  I picked her up and hugged and held her and she immediately closed her eyes and began to fall asleep.  While the kids swam and played that day, I spent a lot of time with Blossom.  The older hens had not yet accepted the younger ones into their flock, so Blossom was alone.  She kept jumping onto my lap and falling asleep.  On that very same day, I jumped onto Craigs List and found a guy who had a ton of Rhode Island Reds.  He had a photo posted with his ad, and in that sad looking, over crowded mob of chickens, there were about 5 Buff Orpingtons.  They were the same age as Blossom (about 6 weeks).  The next day, we drove one hour to pick up (and "rescue") 2 little pullets who we named Diamond and Ruby.  He kept his hens in a small penned area with little wiggle room since there were so many in such a small area.  When we got the 2 new girls home, I was wondering what Blossom would do when introduced to them.  I knew the new girls would have no problem with her since they were raised in such a large mob, but the three of them accepted each other immediately without any problems.  The poor Craigs List hens didn't even seem to know what grass was, but they quickly learned how to find 'real' food while free ranging.  The big hens and the pullets would free range everyday from dawn till dusk.  The hens established a pecking order over the babies and for many months, the babies would free range away from the big girls.  Eventually, they all became a united flock (at their own rate and in their own time).  I love seeing all six of them together.

They get to spend all day from dawn until dusk free ranging.  They are such happy animals.  This is Jasmine.  She is friendly to anyone and everyone who gives her attention....except me.  Jasmine has decided that I am NOT above her on the pecking order and if I get too close to her, she'll puff up and posture sideways in a warning.  If I try to pet her, she'll promptly peck and bite me.  She's a brat, but since she's nice to everybody else in the world, she can stay.  

Here's Ruby and Blossom.  Ruby is one of our rescue hens.  Ruby took a long time to warm up to us.  She was afraid.  We were very patient with her, and when she felt comfortable enough, she started to get closer and eventually,  she became less afraid.  She would come near when we called her name, and began to eat treats from our hands.  Now, she lets us hold, snuggle and pet her.  She and Diamond (who we also rescued along with her) are very special.  Blossom, on the right, is a very sweet chicken as well.  As I write this, I think to myself...these are chickens!  I never knew that chickens could have so much personality and bring so much joy and entertainment, but they really, really do.  Each one has a very distinct personality which is delightful!

My Daisy.  Daisy is such a precious girl.  She loves me. She will gently tug on my clothes and is always waiting to be picked up.  She is also known as Daisy The Cat Dominator!  The cats cower under the stare of Daisy, and she enjoys chasing them down.  When she does this, the cats will sometimes roll onto their back in submission while Daisy cocks her head moves in very close to their face to stare them down...beak poised and ready to peck.  If they stay still, she'll lose interest and relent.  If they make a move, a good peck is guaranteed!  Yes. . .this is Daisy the Dominator!

Hello Dixie!  Now this little girl is at the top of the pecking order.  She is also our biggest hen.  Her walk is absolutely hilarious.  It's more of a penguin waddle than a chicken walk.  It makes me laugh when I see her.  She has been top hen ever since she was in the brooder.   AND, she is one who lays our magical eggs!  She does it consistently too!!  If only they were golden eggs. 

And finally, we have Diamond.  She is one of the girls that we rescued from that over crowded flock of chickens and she is at the bottom of the pecking order,  This chicken is the sweetest of all.  She loves to be petted, held and is always the first one to come running when we call the girls.  All of our hens know their individual names and will come when we call them.  I swear...I really never knew that chickens would be so fun!!  I love our chickens.

Our girls, when nobody is molting, consistently give us 5 eggs a day.  Unfortunately, as you can see,  several of our girls are currently in "some" stage of molt so we are getting inconsistent amounts of eggs.  Boy are their eggs ever WONDERFUL!!!  These are 6 extremely pampered, and happy hens.  If I was a chicken, I'd want to live at our house where you get to free range all day every day, and get so much attention from the human family!  I don't think that every chicken owner would want to say that.....but I would.  They are an integral part of my children's lives as well.  They are always included in their outdoor play.  

Here, Tara and Madeline were having a play date with Tara's friends Madison (far left) and Carley (far right).  Carley had never been around a chicken in her life.  This child was so incredibly enamored with the our chickens.  Whenever they were outside (which was pretty much the whole day), a chicken was in her arms.  And Madison  is Tara's best friend in the whole world.  They have been best friends for 4 years.  They are like a well oiled machine.  They are truly "kindred spirits'.   Madison, got her first flock of chickens last year (I helped to convince her parents into it).  Her dad had raised chickens as a kid, but on a huge scale.  We're talking 500!  Thoughts of life with that many chickens kept turning him off.  I convinced him that a small backyard flock is nothing at all like that and now they have a happy flock of 7, to which they just added 10 more to it this year. . .

But Carley....she couldn't get enough of our sweet Henny Pennys!

And this is Abby.  She's Madeline's bestest friend and she's also Madison's little sister.  She's such a sweet little girl.  She and Madeline always have so much fun together.  What a cute couple of peanuts they are!!

Having kids growing up in the country is good!  Especially when they get to spend most of their time out of doors playing, and not being shuffled to tons of after school activities, or spending time in front of a T.V., gaming system, or computer.  My kids have very rich imaginations, and creative minds.  It is because they play outside so much, and are not burdened with the hectic schedules that so many parents put upon their children that this is true.  Life is good in our humble house in the big woods.


  1. So wonderful to read an update, although not about the loses. :( Unfortunately there are always loses given time. We lost our first in October, our favorite and friendliest, and another is having crop issues so it's only a matter of time. (She's not suffering or in pain right now.) We added a one-year-old Ameraucana mix from my Mom's flock recently. We named her Ava. Mom never handles her chickens like we do nor do they free range, but she is a delightful hen and we're becoming QUITE bonded with her. Very friendly! And does she love exploring! And we have 3 4-week-old Welsummers. (Mom ordered more than she wanted.) They're squeeky little things, but will lay brown-red eggs. Do you supervise free range? or just let them go? We've always supervised, but it is getting harder to spend HOURS outside with them.

    1. It's always the sweetest one's that we lose. Dixie had crop issues last year Jessy. It's treatable. She was free ranging, eating and drinking like normal, but whenever she made a sound, she sounded like a goose! She seemed to struggle whenever she ate anything, but she still ate. She also had pecked at her crop and it got red, so you can imagine the others were also pecking at that spot. I put some Blue-Kote on her and the wound healed right up. There's a fb page called The Chicken Vet. They helped me to treat her. I sent them a video of her so they could see and hear exactly what was going on. Go see if your girl is doing the same thing. Click here for the video.

      What they told me to do was this: Moisten the feed with water, and feed as a soft food. This can be offered along with boiled egg. If she is struggling with the wet food then just offer boiled or scrambled egg for a few days to ensure she keeps eating and slowly re introduce the other food as the crop gets better. I didn't kneed to do the eggs but the soft food made a big difference. And she did indeed get better. It took a while, but it worked. I also gave her an antibiotic at the time, but I really don't think it was necessary as it was the crop that was bothering her. If you want to use antibiotic on your girl, just pm me on fb and I'll tell you what I used, and the dose.

      I don't supervise the hens while they free range. They are so proficient at spotting and finding cover when need be from hawks, that I don't even worry. I used to though! I'd be outside all day long calling to them and doing head counts. They have proved to be smart foragers, survivors, and if one does get taken by a predator, then at least she had a great chicken life free ranging. With the losses that we've had so far in our chicken adventure, we have come to know that death is most likely going to come. But we can always replace the pain with our ability to love another baby. I bet your kids are just loving the new babies!! We don't have room for any more. It's a lot of fun though, looking out and seeing them happily foraging.

  2. Oh, and your photos are AWESOME!

  3. That was a great Blog. Our neighbor hood doesn't allow chickens. Go figure, New Hampshire. I am looking into it. We got 6 Babies and Our friends Rich and Stacy were going to take them, to add to their flock. 11 Baby girls. They sadly lost one. My Hubby and I had so much fun watching them. I really miss them. But I bring them treats and visit often. (5 Min down the road). My question is... Dogs are 7 dog years to one human, what are chickens? Thanks for a wonderful Blog. and sorry for your losses <3

    1. Hi Ellen!

      Do you mean to tell me that you can't keep chickens, but 5 min. down the road they can?? That is very frustrating! I wish the local municipalities would just let people live in a sustainable way. . .with chickens! I'm not sure there is an agreed upon "chicken years" ratio, but the average life span is 8 to 12 years. There are some chickens who have been reported to live into their 20's! I'm so glad you enjoyed your visit here!! Please come back any time!!

  4. Hi Kelly! I love your chickens! I have always dreamed of having my own backyard chickens!!
    I have nominated you for a Liebster Award! Please check it out and reply, link back to me!
    Have a Fabulous Weekend!!

    1. Hi Jeanne-

      Thank you for the nomination. I really appreciate it, but I just don't the time to fulfill all of the requirement. It feels good just to be nominated though. Thanks again!


  5. Hi Kelly,
    Great post. I would concur that children need to to be out of doors and playing with each other rather than in front of a screen. Without it their nervous system cannot develop properly and and there is a whole host of other problems it causes with brain development.

    1. I can not imagine being a child and not spending as much time as possible interacting with each other, nature, and God's creatures. Children of today should be allowed to just free play-- Unscripted, unscheduled, face to face with their friends. I do everything possible to ensure that my children have that type of life.

    2. I just noticed all of the stuttering in my comment. Sorry about that. I was very tired when I posted that.


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