Grazing on Grapes and Head of the Pecking Order

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I just love days off from work.  I have a great job, but I’d rather be enjoying time with family, especially during the summer.  I also love holidays and I’m grateful to celebrate the 4th of July today.  My husband, little farm chick and I set out early to walk to the parade route for out local parade.  With chairs slung over our shoulders we enjoyed a morning stroll to find the perfect spot in the shade. When I got back I let the chickens free range for a bit.  They found my veggie garden so I shooed them out and followed behind for a bit watching their route.  They came to the bottom of the yard and found the overgrown herb/grape box.  I was fine with them doing a bit of digging and pruning.  They reveled in the shade and munched on the unripe grapes.

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After a little while they all bolted back to their run, except one chicken.  Rose hung behind not noticing her other sisters were gone.  DSCF8450

Suddenly Zebra stood right at the entrance to the run and made the funniest noise.  Not quite a bock or a squeak, but a call for Rose to get her butt home.  It really makes me think that Zebra has now become the head of the pecking order.  I was impressed that she was looking out for everyone.  Hopefully she will do a great job.

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West Side Story, Chicken Style!

Last night after my post I thought I had come up with a wonderful solution for Charlotte.  I remarked to my husband “I should just offer to buy her from the neighbor”.  I thought my genius idea would work wonderfully.  Since Charlotte seems so fond of us anyway I thought I’d just incorporate her into my flock.  I knew I would probably need to separate her for a bit to make sure she isn’t sick and to make sure that the hens got used to her.

Sure enough this morning the first sight that greeted me this morning was Charlotte, pecking around the chicken run.  My fuzzy morning brain, thought “Hey, why not just catch her, throw her in with my girls, and then offer to buy her.  Why wait to acclimate her”.  I put some feed in my hand and held it out for Charlotte.  She slowly came over and then frantically began feeding.  I tried to grab her and she jumped back, startled.  I tried again and the second time I caught her.  Then what did I do?  I placed her straight into my chicken run.  My hens, busy with their feed kept eating.  I thought “Hey this is going great.  Maybe they are used to Charlotte because she comes by so often”.   I was horribly mistaken.  My hens started fluffing up, and even my docile Easter Egger hens turned into something I’d never seen before.  It was like West Side Story, chicken style. You could almost her the chickens snapping as they cornered Charlotte, and then they struck.  Peck!  Peck!  Squawk!  Charlotte frantically tried to run away, but found herself cornered again and again. 

I was horrified.  There is a real pecking order with chickens and poor Charlotte did not belong in this one.  She was a Shark and the Jets simply had no room for her in their turf.  I flung open the chicken door, grabbed Charlotte and quickly closed the door again.  My gangster hens pleased with their success went back to pecking at the grass and the order of laying, as if nothing had happened.  I said something motherly like “That wasn’t very nice girls”.  I should have said “Can’t we all just get along!”. 

Charlotte wandered back up the hill and away from our yard, her little fluffy bum slowly going out of sight.   She was a lost chicken soul in this sad little world.  I’m not sure if we’ll be seeing her again soon.