Monday, September 14, 2015

The New Chicks and the Mean Girl

Our little flock of 4 chickens

dwindled to a much smaller flock of 2 chickens over this last year when, several months apart, we had two chickens die. 

We lost Luna in the winter, I believe she was egg bound.

Then we lost Penny, our Easter Egger who laid the prettiest eggs, in the spring. I'm unsure as to the cause.

Though we enjoy the fresh eggs, the Family really sees these chickens as pets. We kind of love them. Losing them is very sad.

It was time to discuss adding new chicks to our dwindled flock. Knowing that wouldn't happen until spring, we were a little concerned about how the two remaining girls would fair through the winter. Would they be warm enough? 

They also seemed a little lonely. Poor girls!


Our concerns were relieved when I received an email from a friend asking if we would be willing to provide a good home for two of her chickens. These two were all that remained of her free range flock after a coyote discovered they were easy dinner. -sniff sniff

Our friend intends to start over next year with a new flock as well as an enclosed chicken run. No more free dinners for the coyotes!!

We were thrilled to provide a new home for her remaining girls!

I should clarify! By we, I mean the Family. The Family fell in love with and quickly named the new additions to our flock...


I believe she is an Easter Egger. She's gorgeous!

And Ginny

She's a Cuckoo Maran. She makes the most precious little cooing sounds. 

And, yes, for those wondering, the kiddos chose the Harry Potter inspired names. 

It took the four of them less than 15 minutes to decide and agree upon the names. The Husband and I didn't even get a vote! Oh well. The names actually fit quite nicely. 

We are delighted with both of the "new" girls! And by we, again, I mean the Family. I specify is was the Family that was delighted because our sweet Pookie did NOT share our feelings. She had no intention of accepting the "new" girls into her coop. The stinker!

Our sweet Pookie suddenly became a mean girl. - Oh dear

We had done some research so we knew that introducing new chickens to your flock doesn't always go easily. It takes time. 

We kept the "new" girls in the run attached to the coop where they were separated from the "old" girls, but all four could see each other and get used to each other. After several days they all seemed happy and content living in close proximity so we decide it was time to allow them an up close and personal meet and greet. (we placed them all together in one run) All of the girls were so sweet and wonderful, this was going to be easy peasy! We were so excited!! 

HA! So much for that!

We were utterly flabbergasted when, only a few minutes into the meet and greet, Pookie took after the "new" girls with what seemed like murderous intent. We expected some normal pecking order issues but this was altogether different. The new girls were intruders in Pookie's eyes and it was her job to send them packing or take them out. 

Our first thought was - the new girls have to go back! Time to call up my friend and tell her this wasn't going to work!! Then I realized that if this wasn't going to work, how would we ever introduce new chicks??

We were going to have to sort this out!

So, Pookie was separated from the rest of the flock. We moved her out of the coop and coop run into the separate run attached to the coop. She was all alone to think about what she had done!! I can tell you, she was not happy with the new accommodations. Especially on the couple of days it rained. Not happy at all!!

Jade, who had no problem with Ginny and Hedwig, lived happily and peacefully with the new girls.

Slowly, as the days went on, we allowed short periods of time where all of the girls were in one run together. We would monitor their interactions and separate them again if things began to seem tense. We could always tell things were getting tense because Pookie would begin to growl -oh yeah, growl (mean girl mode!) - before she took after one of the "new" girls. We tried to end their time together on a happy note, separating them again "while it was all good" before bad behavior began, hoping that would leave them with a better attitude toward one another.

I'm happy to report that, after several weeks, several long weeks, there is finally peace in our coop!! YAY!!

"Old" and "new" girls are getting along! No one needs to be separated any longer!

While we have some normal pecking order behavior, both Pookie and Jade are older and have lived here longer and make sure Ginny and Hedwig respect that, especially when treats like cucumber or yogurt are involved, there is, finally, an accord! Whoop whoop!!

Our little flock is back to 4 and we are now much more prepared if we ever decide to add more "new" girls.

And once everyone stops molting, we'll start getting an abundance of fresh eggs again!