Some time ago I wrote New Additions in which I mentioned the six new chicks I was raising to add to my existing flock of chickens. I had started out with nine birds last year. One morning I discovered one dead when I went to feed, water and let them out for the day. Since they had all been otherwise healthy, I suspect she may have been egg bound. This simply means that the egg she was laying became stuck and she was unable to pass it out. Then, as mentioned in Medium-A apocalypse we lost three more to a dog attack. This brought me down to a flock of five.
So you can imagine how much I enjoyed watching our new little ladies grow from chicks to “teens” to full-grown adult birds. I’ll admit that “Mother Hen” is a fair nickname for me when it comes to me watching over and ensuring the health and safety of my ladies. I knew, of course, I had to wait until the Littles reached a reasonable size and age before putting them in with the big girls. Their pens inside were only separated by chicken wire and I made a point of putting their food in the same spot on opposite sides of that fence so they would be eating in the same location and become accustomed to one another. After a reasonable amount of time, I decided the moment had come to put the two flocks together.
The experts say to put new birds in with an established flock at night when everyone is settling down for the night. For some reason, if they wake up and see a new crew there in the morning it is less of a shock and less likely to provoke a hostile reaction to the interlopers. This worked reasonably well. The Littles wedged themselves together in the corner up against the fence that now separated them from the pen they were familiar with, clearly longing to be back over there where they felt safe. The Bigs, for the most part, didn’t pay much attention to the change. Two of them were a bit more aggressive toward the new girls, but nothing beyond the normal establishment of the “pecking order”.
One, in particular, seemed to like to make sure they knew she was the boss. In the first day or two of combining them, I spent a little extra time watching to make sure all was well. One morning, I was sitting in a chair, 6 younger girls wedged in their corner when Bossy Girl came over and started pushing them around. They were thoroughly intimidated.
“Come on!” I said, “There’s six of you!! Mount a resistance!”.
But they now seem to have found a way to integrate, although Bossy still likes to strut from time to time.
We’ve now removed that fence and enlarged the whole coop so there is ample room to accommodate 11 full grown birds. They are still together but can go to their separate corners if they so desire.
I gave up the idea of naming them individually long ago. Not because (as I have been advised) I can’t eat a bird I’ve named, but for the more practical reason, of not being to tell them all apart. But one of the new girls has earned herself a name.
Back when they were still separated, their pen had a high fence, but it didn’t reach to the ceiling. Almost every day when I went out for morning chores I found her, outside the pen wandering freely inside the wellhouse-turned-microbarn. Now that they all go outside together inside the large, enclosed chicken yard, she is the first one that hops the fence. Often within minutes of being let out for the day.
As a result, I have taken to calling her Princess Leia, because if they decide to form a rebellion, she will be the instigator and leader.
I will talk about what’s going on in my knitting and fibery world in an upcoming post. But I will mention that last week I got to go to our local library’s massive annual book sale. I’ve mentioned this event before, but it is something I anticipate and observe every year, like a personal holiday. This year, there were a number of excellent knitting books and I added seven more to my already respectably sized collection. I added several that contain new patterns and techniques to learn and I’m eager to dig into them.
One I am particularly looking forward to is For the Love of Knitting. As a knitter and a lover of history, this one caught my eye. It covers in beautiful detail the history, evolution, and impact of knitting. There are a number of vintage posters used as illustrations and although I’ve only skimmed it so far, I am so happy to add it to my own library.