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And then there were 6

November 29, 2015

Right now, at this very moment, I have 6 young chickens in my backyard ranging in age from 8 weeks to 11 weeks old.  After all these many months of preparation and anticipation, the flock is finally here and I couldn’t be happier about it all.

Having previously arranged yesterday as the pickup day,  I loaded my cardboard box  into the car and drove down to see “The Chicken Man” of Hendersonville.  Out of dozens upon dozens of young chickens, we wrangled 2 Buff Orpingtons, 1 Silver Laced Wyandotte, and 1 Ameracauna into my box and off I drove.  Upon arrival at the Carlton-Ritz Chicken Palace, I placed the box into the coop with one side open and left the new hens to themselves.  You may recall Max and Minnie wouldn’t leave the box on their own accord and had to be shooed out the next day and then shooed out into the Run the day after that.  This was decidedly NOT the case with these new birds.  All four were out of the box within a few hours and one in particular was not only out of the box, but out in the Run trying her hardest to find a way to get even further afield.

I’m going to call this little pistol, Harriet.  Named after Harriet Tubman because she is bold and brave and intent on escape.  Harriet is the Americauna and will lay blue and green eggs come late January to mid February.

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After only about 2 hours in her new home, Harriet popped out of the chicken door and proceeded strut around the Run sticking her head through almost every opening in the wire fence, testing it to see if she could fit through.  This went on for about a half and hour all over the run, near the coop and further away.  By way of comparison, after a week Max and Minnie still like to stick very close to the coop door and venture about half way out into the Run for short bits of time before scurrying back to their safe corner pictured here.  Even close up sightings of Stella and Bodhi did not seem to ruffle Harriet’s feathers.  You go girl!

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I built two of these leaf shelters since reading about hens needing a place to hide from real or perceived threats especially since I don’t have a Rooster for them to rely on as watch dog.  So far, the shelters are getting regular use by the skittish Max and Minnie.  Harriet tried to get under with them a few times, but Max and Minnie would have none of it.  It will be really interesting to watch how the pecking order unfolds as the hens mix together and as they become full grown.

The next new hen to venture out into the Run was Marilyn, the Silver Laced Wyandotte who is 9 weeks old, same as Harriet.  She also strutted around the entire Run and seemed almost as curious as Harriet though she didn’t seem to have escape on her mind, thank goodness.

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Marilyn is the black and white one who will develop a gorgeous set of white feathers trimmed in black, reminiscent of stained glass.  The little 8 week olds are Penny and Polly, the Buff Orpingtons.  Poor Penny and Polly.  They are still so small especially compared to Max and Minnie who are about twice as big.  It’s amazing how much a chicken will grow between 8 weeks and  11 weeks.  Penny and Polly are so small, they can’t reach the water or the feeder, so I brought in a step stool for the water and set out a separate pan of feed for them.  All is well and they seem perfectly content although these two have not ventured out into the Run as yet nor have they been in close proximity to Max and Minnie.

One of my new favorite things to do is to be outside just before dusk so I can watch Max and Minnie finish their outdoor feeding (chickens like a full crop before going to bed.  I think of a crop as sort of a pre-stomach), walk up the ramp into the coop, and then fly/walk up to their roosting spot and settle in for the night.  Last night was especially exciting since I had four hens outside as dusk was approaching.

So, here comes dusk.  Max and Minnie do their thing and head on into the coop, but Harriet and Marilyn seem to be a bit confused as to the evening protocol.  I give them more time, but still no movement toward the coop.  Harriet did make a move to roost in a quite precarious position on top of the leaf shelter just outside the coop door, while Marilyn was simply wandering around with no apparent purpose.  As full dark had settled in, I decided I should capture the two rogue hens and place them inside the coop, so I could safely shut the door for the night.

I invite you to picture a Laurel and Hardy skit in your mind’s eye.  Lucy and Ethel will do as well if that is your preference.  Now, replace the characters in your mind with two chickens and me…in the dark.  No sooner had I caught Marilyn and put her inside the coop and was on to catching Harriet when Marilyn would pop out of the door and back into the Run at which point I had caught Harriet and put her into the Coop.  Turning my attention once again to catching Marilyn and placing her back in the Coop, I would find that Harriet had come out and was once again trying to make a roost out of a leaf and a twig far above the leaf shelter.  After a few rounds of this, I realized Harriet was intent on sleeping outside, so I wrangled Marilyn once again and was able to get her inside and shut the door.  It being a very warm night, I left Harriet to her own devices and went inside knowing I would be back to check on everyone before I went to bed.

During the recheck, I found Max and Minnie on the uppermost roost, Marilyn, Penny, and Polly snuggled together in the bedding on the floor, and Harriet still outside perched on top of the uppermost TWIG, facing the corner of the shed and the fence post.  I swear I don’t know how she spent the night balanced up there, but she did.  You may want to scroll back up to the photo of the leaf shelter to take a look at the one little branch sticking straight up along the fence post.  Shooting off to the right of this branch, almost out of the shot,  is the twig to which I am referring.  My oh my.  I initially thought about naming her Tawanda!, but decided Harriet made a better chicken name.  I suspect however, she really is a Tawanda! at heart.  Time will tell.

Stay tuned for more stories from the Carlton-Ritz Chicken Palace.

 

 

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Peggy Wolf permalink
    November 29, 2015 12:30 pm

    Thanks for my first belly laugh of the week. I love your writing style. I’ve “had” chickens, guineas, geese, ducks, and a peahen over the past 25 years and learned early on that each one has a distinct personality, as well as a flock personality. They make delightful pets. It makes me happy that so many others, even city dwellers, are discovering that. Throwing a rooster into the mix will certainly up the drama in the backyard soap opera, but unfortunately because of his loud crowing, most chicken owners will be denied this experience. My best to you and all your lovely little ladies, especially Harriet.

  2. November 29, 2015 12:47 pm

    Thank you for your comment Peggy. I really appreciate hearing from folks who have enjoyed reading my blog. Please stay tuned for more. I have a feeling Miss Harriet will engage in lots of story worthy antics.

  3. November 29, 2015 4:20 pm

    So I see Harriet is a Ginger- that is what red heads are like!

  4. Marilyn permalink
    November 30, 2015 4:31 pm

    Margie,

    you are having so much fun. I’m honored to have one of your little buddies named after me. (I also have an Aunt Harriet!) Toodles!

  5. December 1, 2015 11:52 am

    So cute! You have animals named Max and Stella! Adorable. Good luck with this chickens!

    • December 1, 2015 1:30 pm

      I do indeed have a kitty named Stella and a hen named Max. I’d much prefer the real ones, but these will have to do for now. 😊💖

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