It’s hard to believe that we’ve had our small flock of chickens for almost a year. We’ve only had two casualties – remember that the chick “Taylor Swift” died due to complications, and we also lost our beloved rooster, Richard, because of a lung/virus thing, about a month ago. Though many roosters are mean to the hens, Richard was kind and extremely protective. Beside the fact that all of the hens were at his beck and call (if you catch my drift), there was one hen that was his best friend, and she, his.
Here at Farmhouse 1820, we’ve been learning as we go as far as raising and keeping chickens, and if their behavior gets a little off or funky, then by all means, we dive into Google and assess. When we lost Richard, said hen appeared sad (please forgive me, I’ve lost track of who”s who and most of their names went out the window). She pecked at all the others and preferred to sit in a laying box all the time. She became very territorial, stealing all of the eggs and laying on them keep them warm. She wouldn’t move. With her feathers all puffed, she would peck and try to bite if you even tried to move her. After typing in a few key words into Google, we found that she had all of the characteristics of a broody hen. This had to stop.
Now, we can’t blame her missing Richard to cause her to become broody, but rather just chicken nature. Just the same, we had to break the broody and were advised to keep her in her own small cage along with food and water, for three days. This way, she’ll cool down, get her mojo back, and then can join back with the others. You know, birds of a feather and all. This advice did the trick.
For us, having chickens has been rewarding. Not only are they keeping us stocked on fresh eggs, we’ve found that the guy across the street will happily plow our driveway for a dozen. All the sudden, I don’t have to drive carpool for swim practice because the other parents insist on driving, and are hopeful for a dozen or two. (I feel I must oblige; get my kid to and from, safely) It’s funny how people come out of the woodwork for fresh eggs. Well heck, I’m here to tell you that once you’ve had a farm fresh egg, the store bought kind just will no longer do.
Chickens provide comic relief, too. Just watching them run can make me laugh from my belly, and I swear they really do gather ’round and cluck. Chicken gossip, perhaps? Whatever the case, their upkeep is far from time-consuming and their feed is inexpensive. They love fruit and vegetable scraps and their poop is good for the garden. True fact.
Spring is right around the corner, and I’ve put in an order for another 10 chicks. Plans are underway for a new and improved coop with a nice sized run to keep them safe from predators. For now, they’re holding up in the barn, staying out of the harsh winter elements, and still keeping us stocked on those delicious eggs.