First chicken loss

We lost a hen today. First loss in nearly two years of having chickens. A raccoon raided the coop and smashed the eggs the hens had been sitting on, then cornered the buff sussex. Alex heard the commotion and drove off the raccoon. He found the other hens gathered up at a distance and guarded by the rooster. Good rooster! We’re sad – these girls are farm animals, sure, but they’re living and feeling beings and we are attached to them. Interestingly, they feel the loss too. I went out just now and caught the rooster standing and looking at the pile of feathers where the sussex fell. Alex says he’s seen the whole flock standing there looking at it too. We’re not going to anthropomorphize and say what they are thinking and feeling, but they are clearly affected. … Continue reading

Chicken update: neighborhood rooster and new chick

After our beautiful rooster Nigel died this winter we decided not to get another rooster right away. One fine spring day we heard a commotion in the chicken yard and came out to find our flock mingled with half a dozen other hens plus two roosters. These all came from the neighbors uphill. The funniest thing was, all the hens laid in our coop! The situation rapidly settled out. The young New Hampshire Red rooster who lives at the neighbors now runs two flocks: 1. the neighbor’s and 2. ours! We let our chickens out between 10 and 1 to forage in the hollow. The rooster comes down at intervals and rounds them up. That’s one hard working rooster! He sleeps with his own flock, and we close up the electric fence at night. So in practice our flock and the neighbor’s flock have mingled. Our flock is also exposed … Continue reading

Chicken update

Big doin’s in the chicken yard. To recap: last year at this time we picked up three Black Australorp layers and a New Hampshire Red rooster named Nigel from a large flock the owner was selling. A few months later we lost one hen to natural causes (she just died, didn’t appear diseased). The two hens and Nigel sailed on through spring and summer until…the hens went broody. Both of them! We picked up three young hens from Raintree Poultry, two Sussex and a Gold Star. For some time we were feeding six chickens and getting no eggs. This fall one of Australorps started laying again. We decided not to figure out which one and cull the other, but carry the whole flock to the end of their chicken lives. We were partly influenced by the bonding between the chickens – they seemed to miss the one they lost, and … Continue reading

Chicken update: new chickens, new flocks, and neighborhood roosters

This summer we significantly revamped our chicken keeping. First, we added three new chickens. Pam and Andy of Raintree Poultry spent a couple of hours showing us their flocks and helping us pick out three pretty new girls: a White Sussex, a Buff Sussex, and a Gold Star. The Sussex are a heritage breed, broody and flighty but that’s okay with us. The Gold Star is a sex linked hybrid (means you can tell male from female chicks by color) and should lay well. New chickens needed a new chicken coop. For a few weeks in the dry summer we kept them in a large dog cage with a tarp on the top and a bar through the sides. Hey, it worked! The two Black Australorps wore a grove in the dirt around the cage circling and waiting for them to come out. Meanwhile, Ted worked on a beautiful piece … Continue reading