My Tiny Brood of Backyard Chooks

chooks, hens or chickens?


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I have forgiven Helen Hen

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I have forgiven Helen Hen.

I forgive her for trying to put herself at the top of the pecking order by “attacking” Hannah Hen each time she came out for her broody breaks.
I forgive her for coming inside my house and leaving a dropping on my carpet.
I forgive her for not looking out for her sister when her sister was being chased away from the treats by the others.
I have even forgiven her for being so mean to my chicks.

I feel sorry for her.
She hasn’t laid an egg for three months.
Her feathers lack lustre.
Her comb is dull.
But her tail feathers are starting to come back.

Maybe she will come out of her moult soon.
Maybe her comb will grow nice and big and red again soon.
Maybe her feathers will become glossy again soon.
Maybe she will lay me another egg soon.

Helen Hen is on the right in the photo.
You can see her pathetic looking comb.
Hilda Hen is on the left. She started laying again a few weeks ago. Her comb is large and red.
Hannah Hen is in the middle. She never stops laying, unless she is broody of course.


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It is very quiet without my rooster hen-boys and my hen-chicks

It is very quiet at home since the rooster boys and hen chicks have gone. I could say it is peaceful but I think it is more like something is missing.

On the first night when the chicks had gone, I watched the girls get themselves ready for bed.

About thirty minutes before sunset, the girls ( and the chicks when they were here) start to congregate in a certain spot about 10 metres from the chicken coop. It is quite funny to watch, especially when I had the five chicks here as well. No matter where they all were, at a certain time of the day (sunset dependant), they start making their way towards the congregation spot. Some wandering nonchalantly and others running as though they might miss out on something. Once they get to this spot, they start to frantically peck at the grass to fill their tummies (crops actually) before they go to bed. Once they have their fill, they then slowly make their way across the final ten metres or so, to the coop (just on sunset) and put themselves to bed.

If the chicks went to bed before Helen or Hannah Hen, there would be a huge ruckus resulting in the chicks running most indignantly back down the ramp and outside where they would wait until both Hannah and Helen had settled themselves in the best bedtime spots. The chicks would then tentatively go back up the ramp, peer inside to see if the coast was clear, and then find a safe spot to sleep as far away from Hannah and Helen as they could.

On the night the chicks left, the three girls still congregated in the same spot thirty minutes before sunset but it was somehow different. They were standing around looking unsettled. They were standing looking and listening, as though they were on alert. They weren’t pecking at the grass. As it got darker, they anxiously moved towards the coop but when they got to the coop door, they didn’t seem to want to go in. I wondered if I should go outside and try to entice them in with treats but I decided to leave them and watch what they do.

As it got darker and darker, they were still standing outside. The sun was down behind the hills and I was beginning to worry that they may not go to bed that night. But then, Hilda wandered slowly in and up the ramp and Helen followed. That left only Hannah Hen outside. By this time it was almost dark. She Hannah Hen turned away from the coop door and went off around the back of the coop. Oh dear. She walked around the whole perimeter of the coop and came back to the door. Then she looked around some more before deciding to go in. Poor Hannah Hen. Even though she didn’t have any motherly feelings towards these chicks that she hatched, once she abandoned them at ten weeks, did she maybe deep down realise her babies were missing?

I like to think that they had all noticed that the teenage chicks were missing. I like to think that they missed them. I like to think that they were waiting for them before they went to bed.

My husband said that they wouldn’t go to bed because I was sitting by the window watching them but I don’t think so.


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Did I find a new home for my rooster and hen chicks?

A few weeks ago, my husband told me that the roosters were waking him up too early and that they had to go. That was the deal when we agreed to hatch chickens but I wasn’t quite ready for them to go.  I guess I would never be quite ready.

I have loved being part of the chicken hatching process.
I have loved watching the mother hen protect her babies.
I have loved watching the chicks grow.
I have loved watching how the chicks coped with the mean Helen Hen.
I have loved watching the chicks first free range outing
I have loved (and horrified at the same time) watching mother hen abandon her chicks.
I have loved watching the chicks become part of the main brood.
I have loved hearing the roosters crow.
I have loved watching the chicks making their decision of when to sleep with the big girls.
I have loved watching the girls mature.

But nevertheless, two weeks ago I advertised my chicks on Trademe website, which is New Zealand’s equivalent to Ebay. I advertised them as two pair, Howie and Harry Hen-Boys, and Hedvig and Harriett Hen-Chicks. I would keep Hazel Hen-Chick (with the curled toe).

Neither of the pairs sold that first week so I took this as a sign that they should stay with me , but my husband had other ideas. So the chicks were relisted on Trademe for one more week. We agreed if they didn’t sell that week, I would “get rid” of the roosters the following weekend and keep the girls until they started to lay.

At the end of that second week on Trademe, both pairs of chicks sold. Huge mixed emotions!

But after meeting the people who bought them, I couldn’t have been happier. I couldn’t have chosen a better home for my chicks. They will be loved and they are all together. I decided that because the four chicks were going to the one home, I felt it was nicer for Hazel Hen-Chick  to go with her brothers and sisters.

And I had the most amazing surprise the day before the chicks left for their new home. Two of the girls laid their first egg for me. What a generous gift.


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My Partridge Wyandotte bantams laid their first egg

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The egg at the top on the left is Hilda Hen’s egg. She is a Barnevelder. She always lays large, elongated eggs with freckles and two shades of brown.

The egg on the right at the top is Hannah Hen’s. She is a Partridge Wyandotte bantam. She lays small, light green eggs.

The two tiny eggs at the front belong to two of my three “babies”. They are Partridge Wyandotte bantams and they are five and a half months old. These two girls laid their first egg yesterday. I couldn’t be more proud.


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Is my five and a half month partridge wyandotte chick ready to lay?

I just happened to look out the window this morning and there was my five and half month old chick moving with a sense of purpose towards the chicken coop.

It is mid morning and the sparrows had probably finished off the chicken’s food that I had put out so I was watching to see if she would find anything to eat.

But no. With the same sense of purpose, she strode past the feed dish and  into the chicken house. The only thing I can think of is that she went in there to sit on a nest. Perhaps she is going to lay her first egg. How very exciting. I watched out the window for a few minutes to see if she came straight back out, but no. She stayed in there. What a shame  I have to go out soon and I won’t be there when she comes out.

But then maybe she is just familiarising herself with the process and she is not anywhere near ready to lay.