I have six teenage chickens who share a coop and yard with our three old ladies. Since they started sharing the same living space this spring these elderly hens have kept the newcomers firmly in check by keeping them away from the prized roost at night and away from any garden scraps that are thrown their way.
The six chicks were reduced to sharing one nesting box every night since they were first put in the chicken house. When fresh greens are thrown into the chicken yard, the chicks scatter because they were afraid, and rightly so, of the old ladies henpecking them.
One day this week the neighbor’s dog startled the old ladies and they managed to somehow open the gate and escape to freedom into the blackberry and salmonberry bushes nearby. My husband told me what had happened when I came home from work. Finding no sign of my chickens, young or old, in the chicken yard and fearing the worst, I peeked into the coop. There were the six teen chicks firmly ensconced on the roost, all fluffed up, wings extended, to completely fill the coveted roosting bar. The old ladies did return later that night, but now they’ve learned to share all the space and privileges in their communal home. I firmly believe the teen chicks will be leading the next great escape.
Raising your own chickens has been in the news lately with articles in The Herald on the Tour de Coop on Bainbridge Island, to raising chickens in the suburbs.
A recent article in USA TODAY states that “chickens” are a sign of the tough economy and harken back to the victory gardens planted by Americans in previous economic downturns and during the two world wars.
Sno-Isle Libraries carry lots of great resources if you are contemplating chickens in your life and backyard. You may not save money but the entertainment value is priceless.
Here are a couple of books to get you started.
The Joy of Keeping Chickens by Jennifer Megyesi
Raising Chickens for Eggs and Meat by Mike Woolnough