Blending In

I’ve been ending my days sitting right here … refereeing and gentling the flock as they settle in for the night.

I could leave them to sort out their new pecking order. They have figured out how to free range together.

The squawking and screeching that we hear through their coop windows make me think the entire Palace is about to implode… IF … I leave them alone. There was one night that I was not able to get home before dark.

They managed to all find their way inside and up onto a roost. Generally I do find my way to sitting with them while they gobble up their evening treat of millet and then squabble their way to a place to sleep.

At first the Brahma hens sought comfort in resting beside their old neighbours – the ducks. You can see that the stress of the change has put them into a moult (losing their feathers – growing new ones).

They have ventured further all the time. And now Paddy (our rooster) seems to not need to bother with them.

I love looking up to find them striding through the paddock. No need to sneak around. No need to stay below the radar. It is hard work finding your place in a new flock. I’d be nervous if I suddenly found myself without my house, my bedroom, my kitchen and my cozy couch – instead plopped down in someone else’s place while they were still there.

Add in a few creatures you’d never interacted with before … it is a marvel they settle things at all. I could tell the Brahma hens were not eating as much as usual. Their crops were empty in the evening. The crop is a muscular bag at the base of their necks that holds what they’ve eaten. They then digest it slowly. It is usually full at night. I now tuck them into the coop mid-afternoon and give them a private serving of boiled egg or mealworms. That seems to stimulate their appetite and they also chow down on the feeder pellets.

We fine tuned the coop as well. Cleaned up the perching area – removed the three levels of perches and installed a long high bar and one lower bar. Off to the side I fit two perches together to create a wide board. The Brahma hens are more comfortable moving around on that. This should work fine through to the fall. That is when I plan to integrate the four ‘Wellies’ (Welsummers). They’ll be almost ready to lay then and could eat the same feed as the larger flock. That will require a few more weeks of ‘nightly hen sitting’.

Meanwhile, in the front yard, the gardens are in full bloom. Lillies, hydrangea and phlox – everywhere.

Our front windows are open and the perfume of the phlox is lovely. Summer … !

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