Today I took our Rhode Island Red rooster (Rose) back to the breeder, and swapped her for two new little chickens — this time, hopefully both hens!
As soon as I arrived, Rose was welcomed back into the flock by three curious free-ranging ducks. Awwww. I may have been feeling a little sentimental, as I’ve become quite attached to Rose, but I thought this was a sweet gesture!
The breeder took Rose into a larger caged area where she can presumably be checked for illness before being re-introduced into the flock. I say ‘she’ … you know what I mean! I said farewell to Rose with a big lump in my throat, but it turned out I didn’t need the hankie I packed. Phew! Rose promised me faithfully that she would father many chicks. (… You know what I mean!)
I decided to get a couple of smaller chicks this time, to give us a chance to get to know them whilst they are still snuggly, since there is no urgency for more eggs. These two little girls I picked out are so snuggly! Please meet Cricket and Charlotte:
These two are about fifteen weeks old, and are still so young they go “Cheep! Cheep! Cheep!”. Once I had them in the car, they started purring (which is a chicken thing, but not like a cat. They go “brrrrrrrr” … so cute!) and talked to me on the way home. Well, Cricket did (hence her name!) but Charlotte fell asleep.
An hour later, I unloaded them into the coop, but I kept them inside the cage for a bit so that the other chookies could get used to their presence. Meanwhile I put together a new temporary drinker and feeder so that there is more than one place to get a bite to eat: these little chicks might be denied food by the older hens, so having stations in two separate locations gives them a chance to get something to eat and drink.
Turns out I could let them out after only twenty minutes, and they are running reasonably happily with the other hens! Within moments Cricket was out foraging in the orchard, shoulder-to-shoulder with Harriet, who last time was so cranky with Rose. (!) Thank goodness she doesn’t seem to be so down on these two!
She and Raven are asserting their authority, though, so I’ve been sitting in the coop and taking photos for about an hour. And some videos! These little chicks are so cute! Charlotte headed straight for the dirt bath corner and is doing a great impression of Chicken-Experiencing-An-Indelicate-Moment. Trust me, she isn’t dead! She’s just scrabbling around to get her head thoroughly dusty. 😀
Cricket is quite happy to go adventuring around the orchard, and is easily able to dance out of the way of the bigger girls. She also peered up into the nest boxes to watch Harriet lay her egg. That must have been unnerving!
Meanwhile Charlotte is a little sleepy, but has time to get her head well into the food trough:
Apparently the Orpington will grow to be a heavy, round bird. Seems Charlotte is off on a head start!
The older hens appear to be letting the little ones eat and drink, and there’s not much pecking going on. I’ve retreated to the balcony so I can keep an eye out, but things look pretty good for flock integration.
I hope the little ones can perch tonight! If not we will make up a chick-house tomorrow using the old chick-house roof (from when Harriet and Raven were babes, awww).
Sheesh, still feeling sentimental. Have a great weekend, everyone. 🙂