Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chicken Talk

It's been noisy in the chicken yard in the last few weeks, and there are plenty of reasons why this is so. First of all, this spring's six new chicks are fully incorporated into the flock. The three older hens have established dominance over the younger pullets and everybody is cooperating nicely. The only unusual behavior is at night.

Generally, chickens will sleep side by side on the highest perch available. My hens have been comfortable on the perch inside the hen house, where they are insulated from the elements. After the new pullets began spending the night in the chicken coop in early July (rather than their brooder box in the garage), the older hens didn't want to sleep with the pullets. The old girls decided to sleep out in the run area. They're still protected from predators and they have a perch, but it will eventually get chilly out there. Meanwhile, the little girls don't quite understand that the idea is to rest on the 2x4 perch. Instead, they mostly hunker down in the poop trays as you can see in the photo above. I assume this will resolve eventually. All the chickens will need to huddle together to keep warm, but for now it's plenty warm at night for them to maintain separate sleeping quarters.

The big squawk out in the chicken yard is that the pullets have matured enough to begin laying eggs. So far we have collected four perfectly beautiful little tan eggs. It's difficult to ascertain which hens have laid which egg. We're watching carefully and trying to keep track, but it will be difficult. In the photo above, you see Squill the Speckled Sussex having a practice session. We suspect she may have laid the first egg of the little girls. She was certainly excited and making a ruckus that morning. It's not uncommon for a chicken to proudly announce her accomplishments. We've noticed Squill and Daisy the Delaware making a lot of noise lately, occasionally joined by Rhoda the Rhode Island Red and possibly Petunia the Barred Rock. It's very exciting.

Meanwhile, the older hens have their own noisy dynamic. Lately, Hyacinth the Easter Egger has been announcing the arrival of her eggs, but she gets even louder and seems angry when Wisteria the Wyandotte sits on the nest for too long. There are three nest boxes in the hen house, but Hyacinth and Wisteria fight over the largest box in the corner, as seen in the photo above. Sometimes I think that Wisteria has long finished laying her egg, and she's just napping in the box to irritate Hyacinth.

Finally, we still have a problem with chickens occasionally escaping the chicken yard. We've clipped flight feathers and this has helped a good deal. Still, Daisy and Squill like to fly over the fence and then squawk to get back inside. We clipped wings again Friday evening, and Daisy was outside the fence by Saturday afternoon. I don't mind except that it could put her in danger of wandering dogs.

So that's the update on all the squawking in the chicken yard. It's fun to visit the chickens and see what's the latest kerfuffle. There's a lot of personality in a three pound bundle of feathers!

No comments:

Post a Comment