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preliminary poultry report

August 12, 2011

That’s not a grabber of a title for this post, I agree.  It reads like something a com-

mittee or a grant writer might cough up.  But it’s accurate.  I wanted to share what

I’ve learned so far about our birds.  “Chicken Chat” is too cute by half and “Hen

“House Hoopla” too cute by 2/3rds.  I rejected”Feathered Follies” out of hand.  So

let’s just accept “ppr” and put it behind us.


I still don’t know the girls all that well.  We’ve only named three of them so far.

Brenda is the blondest and Sally the second-most blonde.  They’re easy to spot.

The other four, however, are virtually identical.  We call one of them Houdina

because she’s an escape artist.  She got out of our enclosed garden once, and even

Slinkee couldn’t find her.  She showed up at the coop at dusk.  Problem is, we don’t

know which of the quadruplets she is.  That’s how sneaky she is.


I haven’t had much time to just sit and study them.  My early findings are from

watching them as I work on the coop or in the garden.  Here’s what I’ve learned:


          (1)  They’re more democratic than I’d been led to believe.  All my life

                   (except possibly the first three years) I’d heard about the famous

                   pecking order.  I’ve only seen one fight, but that was over a huge

                    juicy worm.  They all perch on the same roosting pole at night.

                    I don’t know how this spirit of equality will affect the rest of the

                    farm.  Jude and I already have an egalitarian relationship, save 

                    for my insistence on controlling the TV remote.  It could spread

                    through the garden, I suppose.  The kale and peas and quinoa could

                    organize for shorter hours.  The carrots, potatoes and chicory

                     might start an underground movement.


           (2)  They’re brighter than I thought.  I regret previous statements I made

                     about their intelligence, but fortunately they’re not smart enough to

                     read.  Example: there’s a hole in the temporary netting I set up until

                     I can build a proper run around the garden.  Sally found it right away.

                     I’ve blocked it, but she still checks it every morning as soon as I let

                     the girls out of the coop.


            (3)  They all prefer the same nesting box, even to the point of crowding

                     into it two at a time.  I don’t know if it’s because the box is the closest

                     of the five to the door, or because it’s painted black.  I’m going to

                     paint the pink one on the opposite end black to see how they respond.

                     Also, they lay their eggs throughout the day.  I had assumed it was a

                     middle-of-the-night kinda thing.


            (4)  They have an inquisitive peck that tickles, and a bite that hurts.  One

                     the girls bit me on the hand when I blocked her at the coop door.  I

                     cursed her, then went back to the house.  I said to Jude “I just told

                     one of the chickens to fuck off.”  It was time for a beer. 

  1. August 12, 2011 9:49 am

    Swearing at your chickens. I feel your pain! Though I have no chickens, my inlaws do and my hubby helps look after them. The family also has a couple hundred cattle and two horses. Swearing at them all seems to be part of the job, upon occasion.

    I also feel your pain when it’s time to come up with appropriate titles. After years of blogging, it doesn’t get any easier!

    X’s and O’s to you and Jude,

    • August 13, 2011 7:39 am

      X’s and O’s right back at ya, Kate. At least when you cuss out horses and cattle, you can look them in the eye. How’s that Saskatchewan summer going?

      • August 15, 2011 12:24 pm

        It’s turned into a gorgeous summer … hot and fairly dry. The crops have managed to catch up after the late start they had in spring and early summer, and with luck will be taken off before we get a frost. It’s beautiful; I walk on the road past our yard every day and really do feel like I live in heaven.

      • August 16, 2011 7:58 am

        Same here with the crops. It looks like we’ll get very little from our squash, and we’re only going to get two comfrey crops. Last year we had four. The cherries, however, loved the long spring and cool, rainy summer. When do you usually get your first frost?

  2. Chris permalink
    August 12, 2011 3:33 pm

    Those featherheads are smarter than you would think! We had 75 chickens at one point and we needed to differentiate between older and younger birds (young ones lay – older ones are designated for the pot). You can buy plastic rings of a variety of colours, designed to fit on chicken legs so that you can tell them apart. The next time “Houdina” escapes, put a ring on one leg. Then you will be able to tell if it is only she who is escaping or whether they are pulling a switch on you.

    Good luck!

    • August 13, 2011 7:44 am

      That’s a great tip, Chris. Thank you. We still don’t know what we’re going to do with them when they stop laying.

  3. Charlotte Wales permalink
    August 13, 2011 8:52 am

    Wonderful post, Allen, – – I laughed my head off, picturing your and the girls!

    • August 14, 2011 11:02 am

      Thanks, Charlotte. When they’re not biting, the girls are actually quite friendly and gentle. We can pick them up and pet them as they tell us about their day. I can’t wait to learn their language.

  4. Brown Brother permalink
    August 13, 2011 9:43 am

    If they are all laying in just one box, try putting an egg in each of the other boxes and leaving it there for a few days. We would often buy ‘starter eggs’ or actually use pastic Easter eggs, to get hens to use different boxes. Seems they like to lay where other hens have layed and since one has started laying in the black box now they all want to use it. Tricking them into thinking other boxes have been used may avoid the congestion.
    So, how many ways can you cook eggs?

    • August 14, 2011 11:10 am

      Amen on the egg cooking. We had hard-boiled egg and fresh pea wraps for lunch yesterday. We don’t have our marketing plan developed so we’re giving them away to just about every nighbour who drops by. Jude usually walks the mile to work from the ferry terminal,
      so she doesn’t want to lug several dozen eggs. That will change when the rains come back next month. When we first opened the coop for business, we put an egg-shaped and -sized rock in each of the the five nesting boxes. The ladies promptly pushed them out.
      I guess I don’t care as long as they’re productive. We had a record nine eggs yesterday. We are, however, seeing a bit of moulting, as you mentioned.

  5. August 16, 2011 4:47 am

    No chicken named “Juveli”? What is up with that?!

    • August 16, 2011 8:03 am

      As soon as a leader emerges and starts getting the other girls in trouble, we’ll name it after you.

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