Thursday, March 1, 2012

No Dumb Chickens Here!

Cleaning up underneath the suet holder!
Every morning, when we open the chicken coop, seven of the chickens immediately fly over the pasture fence and head off on their day.  It's not a pretty sight: chickens are not graceful flyers.  Some awkward squawks are part of the event as they make it to the top of the fence and then, with flapping wings, land on the ground on the other side.  The other forty three chickens are quite happy to stay within the pasture fences and they spread out (barring fresh snow) under the trees and around the straw bales, pecking and scratching.  In the evening, when it's time to put the chickens away for the night, most of the travelling hens have already flown back over the fence and entered the coop the traditional way.  Two are quite often sitting on the door step, waiting to be let in through the human door.  If we approach too quickly, or have a rambunctious dog with us, they scatter and then slowly amble back over to hop up onto the sill and enter.

The seven are Black Sex Links and Ameraucanas, all young hens just purchased last June as day old chicks.  As chicks they were raised in Farmer Man's shop, then they were moved into the green house.  When they were old enough to be out-and-about but still too young to be integrated into the existing flock (older hens may have attacked them) they were allowed to range in our backyard and around the barn.  They must remember that and each morning they head for the barn and spend a happy day, maybe  laying an egg and scratching through the goats' bedding for 'treats'.  Their propensity for travelling has led to the daily egg hunt, because they are not completely consistent in where they lay their eggs.  They're right there, front and centre, when we feed the goats their grain ration, hopping right into the bowl to steal some corn.  They seem to get along fine with both the goats and the barn cats; we actually like the idea of them keeping the barn a little cleaner, 'recycling' the goats' droppings, so to speak.

Two of them are a little more adventurous then the others and have wandered around the back yard and to the front of the house on nicer days.  During their strolls they've discovered the bird feeders, which are only out in the winter.  Every day now two of the hens make the trip to the front of the house and 'clean up' under the bird feeders.  They'll spend about an hour out front, having a great little feast.  They are now the two chubbiest birds in the flock!  It appears, though, they're not sharing because they're not bringing any new friends with them!  That's a couple of smart birds!


  1. I love the bird in the photo, she's got the fluffiest bum! I imagine chickens in the barn might not be a bad thing as they eat insects that might bother the other animals. Is that the case?

    1. Yes, that's part of it - especially in summer! Not too many creepy crawlers around in this cold weather! But also, the chickens clean up the droppings from the vegetarian goats; keeps the barn a little cleaner! If the goats do have any parasites the chickens would surely enjoy those as little protein bits! Circle-of-life and all that....