No matter which part of the last week I decide I’ll start with … it all sums down to we’re in the thick of it. We had a surprise new arrival last week. Meet Florrie! She’s a little beauty – a Barred Rock hen. Florrie belonged to a little flock of four hens that lived with Heidi, a friend down the road. She is an independent sort and happened to be on her own when the rest of her flock fell prey to a coyote and her pups! They were pets and Heidi and Gary knew just where some other pet chickens were that she might join. Est voila! Welcome Florrie!
We had just entered week two with the Tweedles in the paddock. So Florrie had two other newbies she could join. They’ve been in a separate barn and were just ready to start to roam where they could be seen by Goldie and his girls. Florrie jumped into the mix just fine. Today will be the first day that I am going to have them all access the regular coop, ‘porch’ and chicken garden together. I’ll be sitting with them with some treats to toss their way as a distraction when the ‘oldies’ begin to pick on the ‘newbies’. And they will! 8(
Florrie brought along this louvered window with her. Thanks Heidi and Gary! I was looking for a solution to create a second exit to the coop/run so when the two groups of three joined up there would be escape hatches in either direction. It lets chickens in and out – but not goats! Phew! I’ve been training each group to use the windows to get in and out. As always the real test is whether Goldie is able to figure it out. Well! Yesterday I had the newbies out in the paddock while Goldie and his girls were in the coop and run. I figured I would keep Goldie there but opened the little hatch door which he is loathe to use. That would allow the hens to all mix. News flash! Given enough incentive – like meeting three new hens – he managed to pop himself out in no time! Ha! So I closed that and instead left only the louvered windows open. And what do you know! That dickens of a rooster can get out there as well. It seemed I had no sooner put him back into the ‘chicken garden’ (on the far side of their run) and only just myself rounded the corner to the paddock to find he was already racing across the paddock to get to Florrie and the Tweedles. Even though we had to round him up to cool his jets we were chuckling at his being able to figure it out so quickly!
Today, once the clean up is all done, I am going to plunk myself down in the paddock with only the chickens. I’ll be armed with a bowl full of treats and a lap ready to scoop Goldie onto for cuddles. I’m hoping I can add enough distractions that the meet ups can be gentled. Chickens really do feel the need to clearly establish a pecking order. Lily is the top of the pecking order here. She quickly nabbed each newbie and introduced herself as queen of the roost. Sophie had been the bottom of the pecking order here – and where she originally came from. But she is determined NOT to hold that post any longer. She too made it very clear that the newbies were below her. The Tweedles seem to assume they are the bottom so Florrie had no need to do more than just stare at them. So hen wise – there will still be some squabbles and wrestling … but nothing too severe.
It is Goldie that is my target now. I think he sees the new hens as intruders – thieves of his food – and possible usurpers of his roost. He puffs himself all up and makes a run at them. This spring he has been showing much more bravado than ever before. If he is not sure it is me coming into the paddock he’ll make himself big and start a run at me … only calmed down by my assuring him ‘all is good’. He once took a run at the back of Ede’s legs as she was crossing his territory. It was a laughable attack though … he still doesn’t have good depth perception so he literally ran into her leg and bounced off back onto his derriere without a scrap of dignity and left mumbling to himself. So today … and tomorrow … and the next few days … the aim will be to have him learn that the new hens are a bonus. Wish us luck!
Moving the chickens in together freed up the puzzle of the barn shuffle. Step one – build a door for the barn known as the Condo. It started off as Paco’s barn while he was still separated from the jennies – just post gelding. Then it became the ‘red tent’ where which ever jenny was crabby was exiled to until she was ready to play nicely. Lately it was the alternate coop. NOW it is my new feed and tack room.
Sooooooo clean! For now! 😉 The other two small barns will now each be storage for 50 bales of straw, grass hay or alfalfa.
Building this BIG door, cleaning out the alternate coop, moving the gazillion pounds of feed and hay and setting and resetting the regular coop and run as well as continuing to coach the donkeys along in their new diet has all been going on in the HOTTEST and MUGGIEST week of the year. Yesterday at one point I looked up from raking to Ede’s giggling beside me. “You are SO wet! AND dirty!” she says. Hah!
Oh! And I have completely forgotten to mention that while all this is going on we are also having the house painted. Thank goodness we decided to hire a team! They have been here the past four days – scraping, and scraping and scraping some more. I am not sure I have ever seen our place scraped down so well. Next comes sanding and then … a new paint job! Same colour – staying with our favourite blue and white – but oh it will be ‘perty’ and bright!
Summer is also a time when friends and family love to drop by with kids to visit with our menagerie. We’re a busy spot – but loving it all! It has made this great meme floating around Facebook this past while all that more funny:
I love how being an adult is just saying “But after this week things will slow down a bit again” to yourself until you die.
Yep — that’s us! Hope you are staying cool if you are in summer. And warm if you are in winter … like maybe you live in South Africa or somewhere cold like that. 😉