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chicken check-in

June 27, 2014

What a month this month!  Jude and I are finishing up a major home improvement project (a mudroom, photos soon), we’ve had friends and family visit, and we just hosted a big blowout officially entitled “Our NOT Going Away Party”.  All the logging is done.  It looks like we’ll clear enough to move the wolf a significant distance from the door.


To add another degree of difficulty to this comfortable chaos, we bought five new chickens and named them after Beatles’ songs.  Michelle is the most adventurous of them, Eleanor the most reclusive and Julia the most demure.  Rita, the biggest and most aggressive (the only one to peck me), was so named because we thought those qualities made her “a bit like a military man”.  The affable Vera C. fulfills a 47-year-old dream of mine to name a pet that.


When the Fab Four released Sergeant Pepper’s … in 1967, I was particularly drawn to the wit of “When I’m 64”, never thinking that I would ever reach or surpass that age.  I did and did, and Jude was turning that corner as we were buying the hens.  My original intent was to have three pets to honour the line “grandchildren on your knee: Vera, Chuck and Dave”.  I could never afford three cats or dogs, and guppies didn’t seem worthy.  I wasn’t willing to buy two roosters to upset the social structure of the flock.  So the “C” in Vera’s name stands for “Chuckanddave”.


And that pecking order is redefining itself quite well, thank you for asking.  For several weeks we kept the new girls separate from the six old ones.  They seemed to need more time to orient because we believe they were cage-raised.  They didn’t know how to roost.  We had to provide a plank up to the roosting pole.  They didn’t even know that worms are the tastiest things ever.


When we did start to integrate them, the senior crew picked on them a lot.  Even the large Rita was intimidated by the more worldly hens.  But that’s starting to even out, and Rita is moving into the “enforcer” role.  For awhile, the two groups returned to their respective sides of the bicameral coop.  When I closed up shop at dusk, the old chickens were settled in but the new kids were still out exploring.  They even seemed to enjoy evading my attempts to shoo them in.


About two weeks ago, we had a breakthrough event.  One of the new girls roosted with the old crew.  Now they’re all together at night.


Egg production, which typically drops when the flock structure is altered, fell off quite a bit.  When the newcomers started laying, their efforts were just two-thirds the size of the established layers.  Now they’re about the same size and we’re averaging eight a day from the whole crew of 11.  Life is good, especially when you can have frequent omelettes.




  1. Gordon permalink
    June 27, 2014 2:03 pm

    Love to hear the talk about the girls. A regular Canadian chicken ranch. Hope all is well.

    • June 28, 2014 1:22 pm

      All is well except for the Giants’ June swoon. I still owe you three minutes of harassment for the Nats’ series. TTYS.

  2. Cathy permalink
    June 28, 2014 6:03 am

    As the friends visiting…, what a delightful time… Thank you so much !!
    How’s the veggie cages?? Mower still working?? We came back to MN to flooding.. Dock under water( 2weeks later and still under- 2 inches more tonite) no wake zone for most of the 10,000 lakes.., grateful our basement isn’t 4ft under or house gone.,,
    Looking forward to a return trip – hugs

    • June 28, 2014 1:25 pm

      The mower is working better than ever and we remain grateful to Jim for that. The veggie cages are next on our list as soon as we get the netting over the blueberries. We’ve been watching your weather woes and would be happy to take some of that rain off of your hands (or streets).

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