Today is the four-week “anniversary” of adopting our two-week old momma hen and her brood of five. Adopting chickens has certainly been an exercise in patient and a real learning curve, but one I am enjoying. And these little guys have come unbelievably far in these few short weeks!
Clover and her brood.
If you have been following this blog or at least our chicken keeping adventure, you might recall when this brood came to us they only ate cracked corn. And they didn’t know how to get into the coop on their own. (Their old coop was on the ground.)
The chicken run and coop with the summer roof open for extra ventilation.
They now understand when I want them to go into the coop at night. I can “chick chick chick” them and wave them toward the coop and up they jump into the coop. Well at least the three biggest chicks do — the ones I call the “Three Amigos.” The two little ones aren’t quite strong or big enough to make it on their own and still need my help. These are chicken that, just four weeks ago needed the fishing net to get into the coop at night. That was not a pretty site!
They are now beginning to take on their individual personalities and characteristics. They are in short; quirky, silly and inventive. I enjoy sitting in the run and watching them scratch, peck and run around. I love listening to the varied chirps and trills they make and I am learning what each sound means. Four out of five chicks now “chill out” on the roost bar and act as if they really like being up there.
Momma Clover is a tremendous momma, one who is very protective of her brood and is teaching her babies how to take care of themselves.
While their eating is still rather limited, I am confident that they have adjusted to their new home and to me. Two of the littlest babies, JoJo and Snowball will come to my hand now when I put it out. They are not crazy about being picked up, but they allow it, as they know my intent is to put them carefully into the coop with momma. They definitely do not want to be held or snuggled yet, but for chickens who have never been handled before this major growth.
I believe they now realize I am there to help them, that I’m the one who brings them their food and that my job is to take care of them. I still want to teach them to go up the gangplank at night to go to bed, but hopefully that lesson will come as they mature a bit more. Not bad for just a four weeks!
As a sidebar:
Another adjustment for all has been teaching Sassy, our six and a half-year old Labrador Retriever that these birds are not to be retrieved. Sassy has done an amazing job of accepting these chickens on her property. I was quite worried because she is a highly trained bird dog and I felt that any movement would kick in her instinct to kill. It only took a few lessons of “leave it” and she quickly learned. I can now let her come out lose to the coop with me and she stands and watches the show, with a healthy curiosity, but makes no attempt to rush or jump. The chickens are apparently mine and an extension of her job to guard and protect.
Sassy is learning to watch but not chase!
I could not be more pleased. Good girl Sassy!
Small House Chicken Keeper, Donna