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Thursday, 30 June 2011

Drama with hens....

OK it's more me being a Drama Queen than the hens it has to be said, and all ended well in case you were wondering. But this morning I went out to feed the hens (and barn cat, Charlie) and found the hen that I knew had hatched eggs yesterday was out sunning herself and her chicks. Fortunately Charlie is more keen (at the moment) on tinned cat food than the two legged ball of fluff variety - particularly as he'd have to get past a very aggressive hen. So I fed him and turned my attention to the Mother Hen and her chicks.

She has some very cute ones, my favourite are the brown fluffy ones that look like sparrows! These must be her own eggs, the others will be eggs laid by other hens.  Because that's what hens do - they appropriate eggs! Or at least several hens will lay eggs in a nest and one will decide to brood them.

 Well I was trying to count the chicks and thought she had nine, but it's hard to tell as they kept running about! Anyway I left them some food and left them to their sunbathing.

Later this afternoon I heard the strimmer working outside and looked out to see my neighbour strimming the grass near the henny house which had got overlong. It was actually getting difficult to get into the henny house - human OR hen, never mind chick.  But I was rather alarmed as I knew that the older chicks that hatched about five weeks ago often hid in the long grass.

These chicks have now been abandoned by their own mother and left to fend for themselves. This isn't as bad as it sounds, as the hen teaches the chicks to feed themselves at only a few days old. But of course they no longer have the hen to protect them from predators.  So they seem to stay, quite sensibly, around the long grass.

So I trotted down to speak to Neighbour and asked him to stop while I located the chicks. "Oh" he said "it's OK there are three of them in the hen house.".  Here's the drama queen bit - because of course I said there should be NINE. "Nobody move" I said and started looking for chicks in the grass.  Then I went into the hen house to check on the hen and chicks and...... it was a DIFFERENT hen with completely different chicks that also look only about a day old!!  This hen had been sitting in the barn....... So I do a few more histrionics of "Oh god, oh god, where are the chicks" and went in search of the other new brood..... they were with the hen who was rather indignant and standing in the barn. At which point my neighbour told me I couldn't count because she has ELEVEN chicks, not nine as I had thought..... All were well so I then had to hunt for the adolescent ones - they were hanging about in the other barn, rather like adolescents hanging about on a street corner..... I suspect ASBO's (anti-social behaviour orders) to be served on them any day now.....

Anyway with all livestock accounted for (9 five-week old chicks, 11 day-old with one hen, 3 day-old with another hen, and the rest of the flock), my neighbour then continued to strim the grass to at least enable week chicks to get into the henny house, but leave enough of the cow parsley and long grass for them to also hide from predators......

I am going to lie down in a darkened room after all that excitement.... and await MORE chicks as there are at least two more hens brooding somewhere in the barn (completely inaccessible.....).

The cockerel, meanwhile, is strutting about and giving me a look which clearly says "Harumph and you thought I wasn't a working model!".  I told him it was the hens that had done all the work and to take the smug look off his face....

Meanwhile, having a final check of the hen house just now, here are the adolescents on their perch with the new mum below, you can just see the head of a wee chick peeping out from under her chest.  The other new mum is back where she hatched her chicks tonight. I'm hoping, if all is quiet tomorrow, she'll take them into the henny hoose too.....


  1. Oh, aren't they all gorgeous, Sian! Lucky you to have so many chicks. I loved my hens, but they never managed to give me any chicks. What will you do with them all?

  2. My question too--what will you do with them all? They are beautiful little things, tho.

  3. Dear me, that sounds very stressful. If cute.

  4. Wow, your population of poultry has increased dramatically! I don't want to even think what you will do with them all ... do you know how many are cockerels?

  5. I completely understand your panic - counting chicks could become a full time occupation for you!

  6. So many chicks, maybe an ASBO for the cockerel he has been busy.

  7. while you are lying down, you'll need to come up with 23 names!!

    word verification is madiness

  8. Perpetua & Bev - The hens I'll either keep or pass onto others. The cockerels will be "despatched" at some point - um as in,ending up for dinner, but not by me. I make a point of not eating animal/fowl I've been personally acquainted with.

    Isabelle - they are very cute. I love seeing the little balls of fluff, and watching the mother hen teach them to feed.

    Shirlwin - No - I haven't yet worked out which are cockerels. I'll have to wait till they are older, or get an expert in!

    Thecurateswife - yes, I am rather awash with chickens at the moment!

    Walrus21 - LOL! Yes that sounds a very good idea!

    VioletSky - love the word verification. No - I gave up naming them a few years ago when I ended up with 30 chicks! I try and not get too attached to the young ones... who knows what their fate will be till I know if they are hens or cockerels!