Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Husbanding Floyd: New Girls in Town

Anita was moving to her new home around the same time that our flock got decimated.  Since our girls were gone and she couldn't take hers with her a few of her hens (she had around 60!) moved to our coop!

Anita's hens are truly free range.  They've been out foraging and flying all their lives although they do know what a coop is for and come back to it at night.  "Born Free" is they're theme song.  Other descriptives might be "wild" or "feral".

I had to clip their flight feathers in order to keep them in the yard behind the fence both for their own safety and to convince them that the coop is their new home.  Trust me when I say that handling a free-range... ok feral... chicken is a whole 'nother experience than handling my previous spoiled, hand-raised hens.  They are bigger, heavier, stronger and will smack you down and run if you don't stay focused.  We had four escape the crate and go over the fence during a moment's inattention!  Three of them eventually returned to the coop the next day, actually roosting on top of the coop and then dropping down among their compatriots the next day to get to the treat tub.  Unfortunately, we did lose one to the fox.  I caught the bastard trying to tug the dead hen through the old goat pen.  Even as wild and alert as these birds are didn't save it from our local predator.  Then to make matters worse, the fox was brazen enough to sit outside the pen, not even running off when I brought the truck down in front of it.  I had to honk the horn and rev the engine to make it run.  It's got to go.

Anyway, we've got quite the collection of colors amongst our new hens, what Anita calls her "home brew".
This one rules the roost. No one gets treats before her!

A couple of these black-tipped white hens.  Julius thinks they're Dominiques.
There's a few of these light buffs...
...and several of these reds.
And this flashy black one.
I think they're beautiful!  Next on the list is constructing a 10'x10'x5' chicken tractor so they can get out on the grass daily and be protected when we're not there to over see them.  Once they recognize the sound of the treat bag and the call of "Buffet!" and come running to eat we'll be able to let them range when we're there.

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