My Tiny Brood of Backyard Chooks

chooks, hens or chickens?


Apologies to my chicken, Aunty Dorrie

Dear Aunty Dorrie,

I am sorry that you were left in the farmer’s paddock across the road and saw all your friends (exceptKing George) get taken by the hawks.

I am sorry that King George came across the road to my place and left you on your own to fend for yourself against the hawks.
But I am so pleased that you survived and followed him over a few weeks later.

I am sorry that I wasn’t able to capture you and put you in a coop where you would be safe and that you ended up sitting on thirteen eggs out in the bushes.

I am sorry twelve of your eggs were infertile eggs.
But you did hatch one baby chick.

I am sorry that you sat and sat for another week trying to hatch your infertile eggs while you were trying to look after your one baby chick.
I didn’t know. I couldn’t find where you were.

I am sorry that one night when your chick was six days old, at 11:37pm something sneaked up and took the chick out from under you.
I heard your strangled cries of fear and your desperate flapping of wings as you tried to protect your baby.

I am glad I was able to find you and move you to the safety of a coop.
I am sorry that you were not happy and kept trying to get out but it was for your own good.

I am glad you decided to keep sitting on the six infertile eggs I put back under you.

I am glad I had a friend who had Orpington eggs in an incubator that are due to hatch in four days and I am glad she let me have three for you.

I just hope you stay sitting on the new eggs for four more days. You have been so determined to be a mum. I know you have now been sitting now for thirty five days, but just four more days.


I think we have baby chicks

I heard her this morning, talking to her chicks.

I heard her, the bantam from the farm across the road who decided to come live with us and then decided to sit on a batch of eggs somewhere in the dense bushes beside our house.

Six nights ago, when we guessed Aunty Dorrie’s eggs were due to hatch, my husband heard the chicks peeping. It was late evening when chicks shouldn’t be making a noise so I guessed they were either just hatching or something was hurting them. I am hoping that they were hatching.

Since then we have been at work every day so haven’t seen or heard anything.

But this morning about 7am, I was outside and heard the familiar sound of a mother hen talking to her chicks. How lucky I am that I have experienced a mother hen bringing up her chicks so I know what to look and listen for. The main thing that worries me is what are they eating. My last chicks were fed chick crumbles but there are no chick crumbles in the wild. I have water near where I know the nest must be and so I hope she is bringing her chicks out for water. Chicks drink such a lot of water.

A least I know she must have at least one chick that has survived the week.  I’m glad I heard her.


The best laid chicken plan……

I had a plan to integrate our new chicken, Aunty Dorrie, into our backyard brood. She is the last of the chickens from the farm across the road to run away and come live with us.

She was at the stage where she was spending every day, all day with my girls (and boy) but would sleep somewhere in the bushes down the hill in front of our house.

Aunty Dorrie was by now, used to the purple the treat tin. She didn’t feed from it while I held it but did when I put it on the ground and moved away. So the plan was to entice her into the spare coop with the purple treat tin and shut her in for a week. This way, she would get used to sleeping in the safety of a coop and then it would only be a matter of time before she followed the others into their coop to sleep at night and I would have a fully integrated chicken brood. And of course, with the bonus that Aunty Dorrie would be laying in the nesting boxes.  The next step of my plan was for her  to go broody and become a mum. (My other bantam, Hannah Hen hasn’t gone broody yet this Spring which is unusual.)

The plan to capture Aunty Dorrie was to be carried out on Labour weekend because that would give me three days to see my plan through. But on the Friday morning before Labour weekend, my husband informed me we were going away for the long weekend on a surprise trip.  Oh no! I would have to leave my capturing of Aunty Dorrie to the following weekend.

But when we got back from our trip on Monday afternoon, there was a chicken missing. Aunty Dorrie was not with the others. Did a hawk finally get her? Did a possum or a weasel get her while she was sleeping in the bushes alone? The next morning she wasn’t waiting outside the coop for the others to be let out, like she always does. I felt bad. If I hadn’t gone away for the weekend, I would have her captured and safe.

Then I had a thought. Maybe she is safe and sitting on a clutch of eggs somewhere.

And the following weekend, there she was. She was obviously on a feeding and ablutions break. She was making that familiar bok bok sound they do when they are broody. She was incredibly hungry and thirsty and in a rush to do everything. Then when she had finished, she ran as fast as her little legs would carry her, back to the bushes where she disappeared.

She had foiled my plan. Clever chicken. That was twenty one days ago. I am expecting her to bring her chicks out any day now.


3 chickens + 1 rooster + 1 more chicken = 5


As you can see, I now have four chickens and one rooster. I have only bought the two Barnevelders, Hilda and Helen. The others all crossed the road from the farm at various times, to live with us.


Meet Aunty Dorrie. She is the last little bantam from the farm who has survived hawk attacks and has crossed the road to seek refuge with King George and the other girls. When King George came to live with us I felt sorry for the lonely wee bantam that he had left behind.  But now she is safe from hawks and hopefully not so lonely.

She still sleeps outside somewhere in the bushes and who knows where she lays her eggs. My plan is to capture her and lock her up for a few days so that she learns to sleep in the safety of a coop and not out in the bushes on her own.

And why is she called Aunty Dorrie? I don’t know. I must ask our farmer friend.  We named his other bantam and the rooster when they came to live with us and then we found out they already had names (King George aka Roger and Hannah Hen aka Brittany), so we decided to ask this time what her name was. Hence Aunty Dorrie.