Not long after my last post in 2009, we had a dog attack on the chickens. One chicken, Dolly, was badly wounded in the neck and we thought she might die. A close friend of ours came out to clean her up. It was gruesome and I really had a hard time keeping it together. We had to separate Dolly from the other chickens to keep them from pecking at her wounds. Surprisingly she made a full recovery and even started laying eggs in her tiny crate! She wasn’t the first to give us an egg, but it was definitely a good sign.
In November, on Thanksgiving day, we had gone to a relatives for the holiday meal. Upon our return, I realized that we were missing a chicken. One of the Reds was gone. There were no signs of distress, no feathers, no tracks in the snow, nothing. I thought she might have slipped out of the run and looked for her for the next few days, but to no avail. She never did return.
Down to 6 chickens from the original 8. In the spring, it was necessary to reintroduce Dolly to her flock. The problem was that having been separated from the others for so long, she would not be remembered and they would consider her a new chicken and thus a threat. I took Dolly out to the coop a few times so the others could see her. She was excited to be among comrades but they eyed her with suspicion. Patsy had become the lead chicken and was intent on putting Dolly in her place. A decided peck on the head from Patsy, sent Dolly squawking and seeking refuge. She jumped onto my lap and and hid in my arms from Patsy. I decided it wasn’t time for her to go back yet.
Not long after that, I had gone into check on the hens after dark. Always counting heads, I noticed that Patsy was missing. I looked around outside in the snow and found lots of chicken tracks leading around and around the coop and finally into the trees. I called to her but didn’t get any response. It was disappointing to say the least.
The next day after returning home from work, I heard a clucking coming from the trees. I walked out into the snow, clucking to her. She answered and finally I saw her wandering among the brush. She was agitated and looking ruffled. I went to the coop and grabbed a handful of pellets and scattered them close to the coop door. After recruiting Young Master and Little Maiden to help, I sat in the snow with pellets on my lap, hoping to coax her closer. It was a slow process but I was finally able to get a hand on her. The kids swung open the door and I tossed Patsy inside. She was obviously upset about spending the night out in the cold. Then it occurred to me that this would be a perfect time to add Dolly to the group, while Patsy was out of her element. It worked, both chickens were so eager to get food and warm up, that neither noticed the other long enough to get upset about it.
And so the spring and summer progressed with 6 happy hens. Laying and scratching happily. We decided that it would be a good idea to order a few more chicks. This time I ordered from MyPetChicken.com. I was able to get the breeds that I wanted which were Barred Plymouth Rocks, Buff Orpingtons, and Easter Eggers. I ordered 8 chicks total. When they arrived 1 chick was DOA and one more died two days later. I was down to 2 of each breed. They seemed to thrive and got used to handling quickly. With the exception of the Easter Eggers, they are very friendly.
Then it happened. In June we were forced from our home because of foreclosure. The loss of a job and the slowing economy forced us into the situation. Our hens found themselves stuffed into two cardboard boxes and the chicks in another and carted off to Willhi’s house. She very kindly offered not only a home to our chickens but to us as well in our time of transition. A week long stay in her camper was enough time to find a house to rent on a nice piece of property.
It’s September 2010 now, and we are settled in fairly well. Our landlady has been very nice to allow us to build a coop and bring our 12 chickens back home. The chicks have grown so much and should start laying sometime next month. I can’t wait to have fresh eggs again.
I think I’ve found someone who will be able to build the coop for me. It’s a matter of drawing up the plans and scraping the money together. If all goes well, my beautiful flock will be home before snow flies!