So Grown Up

How fast they grow. Roughly nine weeks old and they are more chicken than chick now. They still haven't traded their sweet little peeps for grown-up chicken sounds, and the combs on the Barred Rocks are only just now starting to grow, but in every other way, they look like mini-versions of their soon-to-be adult selves.

Our white hen, named Duck, has become a favorite. Although it might just be because we can't tell the other two, Helen and Carol, apart from each other. 

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I've had to clip their wings, because they have flown the coop more than a few times. It's helped, but they still manage to escape periodically. I'm hoping as they get bigger, they won't be able to make the height of the fence. Bad chicken. 

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They are so fun to watch. I love how they tip their beaks up when they drink.

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There is something so dinosaur about them. 

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Pretty duck. She's our Easter Egger and I'm really hoping for blue eggs.

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The older hens have finally accepted that they have new coop-mates. I can't say that they've been very welcoming, but they tolerate the newcomers well enough.

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Molassy is still the kids' favorite. With that little bunny tail, I completely understand.

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Egg production has not been as good as I had hoped. I never expected the Silkie to lay much, but actually she's done alright. She lays these tiny little eggs, on a fairly regular basis. 

I will admit I've done a few things wrong. The biggest mistake was letting my hens stay broody. We've learned a lot about chickens this year. Hens lay an egg most days. After they have layed a bunch (a clutch) of eggs, they may "go broody," meaning they decide to sit on them for 3 weeks until the eggs hatch. They will only get off the nest once or twice a day. They fluff up really big if you try to move them. They might peck and growl if you try to pick them up and most annoyingly they don't lay any eggs. A few weeks after the chicks hatch, they go back to normal. Broodiness happens whether or not there is a rooster. And it happens with some breeds more than others. In our case, we don't have a rooster, so the eggs were not fertilized. We kept removing the eggs (despite the pecks), but even if there were no eggs, and no hope of chicks, the chickens would sit. 

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So first Lily went broody. As soon as she was done, Hazel went broody. Weeks went by and Hazel didn't seem to be getting back to normal. She sat, she growled, she sat some more. I would take her off the nest to make sure she got some food. She would eat a little and go right back on the nest. 

To make matters worse, Molassy went broody too, always trying to be like the big hens. As I looked at Hazel, I noticed that her comb was getting pale, a sign that she was getting weak. It was time to do something.

There are a number of ways to break a broody hen, but the main goal is to cool their body temperature down a little. I started slipping freezer packs into their nesting boxes covered by a few pine shavings. We gave them cool baths in the wheelbarrow daily (I admit that was a little fun). And we closed off the nesting boxes for parts of the day to force them out in the yard.

After three days, they were coming out of it. Hazel's comb went back to its normal floppy bright red.

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Next chicken crisis? It's molting time. Our yard looks like there was a huge pillow fight, or maybe more like a chicken exploded, but that's okay. They will be back to normal soon and we will have more eggs than we can handle, right Ladies?

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