Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Population Cluctuation

At the beginning of this week, we had eight chickens. Six new ones from this spring, and two old ladies from our very first chickens -- they were well on to four years plus.

Then one of them looked awful on Saturday. . . limping, hunched, and I thought briefly about putting her out of her misery, but it was hot and I was busy, and I'd promised not to kill those two. Anyhow, I didn't do anything.

The next morning she was dead. I hope she died before whatever ate on her got to her. From now on, I'm doing the hard stuff and chopping heads. In fact, I think I'm going to buy dual-purpose birds and do a two year rotation.

But, before I implement that plan? A notice went out on the local chicken list that some folks were in need of homes for some of their hens. I offered to take two, a Wyandotte and a Sicilian Buttercup. I liked the Buttercup we had before quite a lot. The birds showed up this morning.

The Wyandottes went at each other like WWW, chicken-style! Much leaping, wing flapping, and beak-and-wattle grabbing. I think they've worked it out, though, despite the Sturm und Drang. The Buttercup?

She did that thing that all bullies the world just love -- she ran around shrieking and cowering. In ten minutes, the mid-range hens (always a bully in the middle -- not the popular kids, not the picked-on!) had her trapped inside the coop.

Well. We have been here before.

Fortunately, Denise came over this afternoon and was in an amenable mood. With some under the table child labor, we got the pathetic creature innocent victim boxed up and headed to her new coop. I hope she has a much more graceful integration there! She graced us with one egg before she went, and that was nice.

So the population out back went from eight to seven to nine back to eight.


kitsapFG said...

I hope the reconfigured brood settles down and life goes back to being just "clucky"!

Helen said...

Oh, wow. You guys are my heroes. We lived on a farm in England for almost my first five years. The chickens were "wild"and laid their eggs in the nettles along our driveway. At that age, I just took them for granted, and never realizing that Sturm nor Drang were a part of chicken life. You've earned your eggs. And your chicken.

el said...

Are the Buttercups the ones with the wild horn-like combs? (Can't quite tell from the pic)

(Hey: head-chopping isn't what I do. That's usually a two-person operation (one to hold, one to chop) and I do the dirty work solo. So, I use the cone method. Instead of a cone, however, I use a very large plastic jug with its bottom and its neck sliced off; it's screwed to a post in the garden about 30" off the ground. No flapping, quick work with a knife and a minute or so later they're quiet. Lots less messy too. Just fyi.)

good luck with your new girl!

Mr. H. said...

A Sicilian Buttercup, I would have to get one of those chickens for the name alone.:) I am glad to hear that I am not the only one with crabby hens, ours can be pretty nasty with each other.

So sorry to hear about your hen, we have not had to deal with that yet...I suppose it is only a matter of time though.

Stefaneener said...

kitsapFG, you made me smile. I have no hopes for that. Today they're trapping the other hen in the coop. I'm going to let her sulk, I think.

Helen, thanks. This is one reason I'm thinking about the two year rotation. Integrating new chickens is never, ever easy.

el, that IS a good suggestion. Buttercups have lovely saucer-shaped combs, and the first one I had was an inveterate wanderer. My friend Esperanza can use loppers while holding a bird in her legs. She's a major stud. Do you use loppers or a knife? My one cone experience was rather traumatic. . .

Mr. H., it's like the Frizzy Headed Drunken Woman lettuce seeds I bought just for the names. Buttercups are pretty, pretty birds. I wish more folks would rear them.

Heather said...

Hope your chicks all find their harmony soon, seems like a hard thing to integrate but I know it can be done! Hang in there~

chaiselongue said...

I enjoyed this chicken tale - it's never simple with chickens. You've reminded me of our chicken-keeping days ... still tempted sometimes to keep them again one day!

Just Jenn said...

Quite the chicken drama!

Roadchick said...

(Just a little late to the show...)

My dad grew up on a farm and I remember him telling me that when they had to "introduce" a new chicken into an already established flock, they would wait until the chickens were roosting & asleep and then stick the new hen in. Supposedly, when morning came and all the hens woke up, they didn't remember the new hen not being there before.

It was great meeting both of you at Bliss!