So. Much. Chicken drama!
There have been a lot of ruffled feathers – especially mine – as Willa hit the two month mark on being broody with no end in sight. Not to mention the continued ferrying of the two chick-lets, at seven weeks old, from daytime jaunts in the chicken pen to their cramped night-time quarters in their tiny cardboard shanty.
Something had to give. The moment of decision came when I was lifting that screaming broody banshee Willa off the nest and she whipped her head around like something out of The Exorcist film and proceeded, with an evil beady eye, to spy my finger and bite me. She drew blood this time.
At which point, I drew the line. No more coddling for that crazy chick. She went straight to the penalty box:
She clucked up a storm in the cage for two days. I expected it to take a week to break this fierce broody but lo and behold, on day three, she emerged from her trance, re-joined the flock and has gone nowhere near the nest since! The band is back together!
But what to do about those littles?
The recommended age at which to introduce pullets to a flock is 12-16 weeks. But it was clear that neither these girls nor their unwieldy cardboard box could wait that long.
It was Peggy who made the decision, however inadvertently. She’s a skittish one and was eluding me as I tried to catch her to put her away for the night. At one point she panicked and darted into the coop, and I realized there’s no time like the present. I unceremoniously dropped the door behind her, slipped Beauty in the other entrance and, sensing a distinct lack of glamour in this whole animal husbandry thing, rather cavalierly told them “Good luck!”
I’ve read that eight weeks is the very earliest you can consider mixing chicks with a flock. And that was suggested only begrudgingly and with a palpable frown of disapproval. I am not recommending it. I’m just saying that it happened to be Beauty and Peggy’s eight-week birthday and Peggy made a fateful decision when she dashed into the coop.
Also – and this is important – the littles had spent a few weeks on display behind a see-through fence, being sized up by the flock and several days of supervised mingling with them in the pen. Here are Bella and Beauty having a moment:
So I wasn’t exactly throwing them under the bus. There has been plenty of face time and no overtly menacing behavior from the hens toward the littles. Maybe some eye-rolling and “looks like another fine mess you’ve gotten us into” looks from Bella and Ginger, but I did not see murder on anyone’s agenda.
I checked in on the coop several times that night. The big girls didn’t exactly throw the littles a hen party but neither did they attack them. Beauty and Peggy nestled together on the edge of the counter where, if necessary they could make a quick getaway should things go awry.
By the third night, Peggy was feeling confident enough to try to share Ginger’s roost bar:
Ginger very quickly made it very clear that that wasn’t going to happen. One very businesslike peck and Peggy got the message. “Stay in your own lane, you little pipsqueak.”
Well, all things in their own time, I thought. But those littles turned out to have some big ideas.
While we were away for a few days, we got a report from our friend, Christi, who was watching over the critters, that Beauty and Peggy managed to take over some real estate on that roost with Ginger. And, indeed they have…Christi sent us this photo of the new sleeping arrangements:
And thus, feathers have been smoothed. Crazy Willa has been tamed. The littles are ruling their roost. I might even be feeling a little uptick in the barnyard glamour quotient. All’s well, we’re birds of a feather again.