For some time we have been a house divided here at Bumblebee.

We had the three laying hens living in one set of accommodations and the younger chickens living in another. They showed interest in each other and occasionally pecked at each other through the wires, but there was no co-mingling of the chickens.

Maxine and Maude on their afternoon walkabout

Since winter is inevitably creeping our way, I started allowing the chickens side-by-side free range time about three weeks ago to prepare them for their lives together.

Predictably, the three hens took one course and the two younger chickens another. There was the occasional skirmish if someone found a particularly tasty bug or worm, but for the most part, the two mini-flocks were separate, but equal.

This week as colder temperatures hit in earnest, I decided to force the integration of the flocks.

Olivia (or Oliver?) has grown out of the ugly stage

After letting all the chickens out for their afternoon walkabout, I closed the Eglu hotel where the younger chickens had been shacked up. Little did they know what was in store for them as they went off to blissfully peck for bugs.

As evening rolled around, the three hens moved back to their Palazzo di Pollo. The two younger chickens began circling the Eglu, making escalating sounds of distress.

“Hey, who closed the door. Let us in!!”

Clearly, they would not just follow the hens into the Palazzo. We had to do a bit of human intervention. Ben and I caught the chickens and shoved them into the Palazzo.

I am very sad to report that my sweet hens did not show their best sides. In fact, they were horrid to the poor chicks. No one was seriously injured, but there were definitely feathers all about the Palazzo when I went to open their door in the morning. The two chicks had taken refuge behind the garbage can where I keep their stash of food and the three hens were strutting about and barking like dogs. It was not their finest moment.

Minnie Ruth (aka Brett Favre) is not a beautiful chicken. But she/he has attitude.

Since no one was hurt—except perhaps for their feelings—I decided to press on with the integration.

Over the next few days, hostilities continued, with the hens asserting their dominance and the two younger chickens cowering in fear. After all, they were out-numbered.

Then one particularly cold evening I left the big door of the chicken house open hoping that all the chickens would find their way inside unassisted because I was busy indoors. To my amazement, when I went to tuck them in, all five of the chickens were huddled together in a warm little ball in the corner of the Palazzo. It seems that hostilities cease in cold weather. Even chickens are pragmatic in their cold weather co-habitation decisions.

I won’t say that all the chickens are now fast friends. But the pecking order has been established and there is now the minimum of hazing of the newcomers.

As for the question of gender in the younger chickens, I can only say that one, if not both, are roosters. Minnie Ruth is the smallest of the birds and exhibits the most animosity to humans. I don’t know what I did to deserve her/his ire. My husband says it’s because I keep calling him Minnie Ruth instead of something manly, such as Brett Favre.

As fall sets in and winter takes its place, we have two nice poultry panel heaters that will keep all the chickens warm and happy. I anxiously await the next developments with the chickens. I am most anxious to learn if I have any more hens—or if I am stuck with a couple of cranky roosters.

Fall at Bumblebee Garden

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

22 Comments

  • TC says:

    Chicken stories are for the birds (pun intended).

    I’m glad they appear to be warming to the idea of co-habitation.

  • eliz says:

    Interesting (to me the chicken idiot) that you do not know their sex yet. Otherwise, great story!

  • Lisa at Greenbow says:

    It is good that the girls are learning to get along. It would be a long cold winter if the younguns were all huddled up by themselves.

  • gina says:

    BB – I love this post! I’m all hung up on your great writing skills, and I’m jealous!

    I love the chicken adventures, too.

  • I so enjoyed reading about your days in your Bumblebee Gardens … β˜…

  • Gail says:

    Thank you Robin, you know I love the Chicken Chronicles! You are a wonderful story teller. Poor Minnie Ruth…Perhaps you ought to rename him….Manny Ruth! Gail

  • Mary says:

    This brought back memories for me. My dad raised chickens, turkeys, and pheasants. He also hatched eggs for people and often had quail and other birds temporarily. You are lucky you don’t have turkeys. They are very social and fun to have, but rival males will actually try to kill each other.

  • Good lesson here about how adversity (cold weather for the chickens) actually brings them closer together. They are a fine looking bunch of chickens, by the way.

  • Cindy says:

    I love that final shot of fall. I’d want to sit in one of those chairs with a glass of wine and just contemplate life with the chickens as the sun set each evening! I’m glad that they’ve figured out how to co-exist semi-peacefully.

  • Diana says:

    What a hoot – but I’m sure you were very anxious about the integration. I mean, you just don’t know what they might do if they don’t like each other. And those beaks and claws are sharp. I’m glad they acclimated and decided that warm was better than being frozen nuggets!

  • commonweeder says:

    Robin,
    I can’t say adversity (the cold) has induced friendship among my old hens and the 6 new. They have lived in the same section of the henhouse since September, but the new chickens were small enough to find a place to get out of the hen yard. They went back in at the end of the day, but they still roost in distinctly separate areas. My main problem right now is having 3! roosters. We had one, and one day in the spring we found another rooster in the heny yard with no explanation. Then the new chicks arrived and included another beautiful white and black rooster. They are all three gorgeous, but the feed bill is pretty hefty.

  • Layanee says:

    I love the chicken stories! I would eat the roosters….LOL πŸ™‚ After all, chicken is tasty.

  • Val says:

    Might I ask what Poultry panel heaters are? I’m afraid our hens just have to rough it here and An economical heater could be useful for anyone off color.
    I add vegetable oil to their corn in the winter and we don’t give them extra light, concentrating on surviving is fine by me, although they are still laying at the moment..collecting the eggs before they freeze is the art!
    Lovely Photos Val

    Hi Val,

    I bought two panel heaters from Shop the Coop. http://www.shopthecoop.com/. They were about $125 each and were very easy to install. The panel is rather big and gets nice and warm, although you can still touch it with your hand. There is no chance that the chickens will get burned accidentally by touching it.

    The two we have keep the coop, size about 8’ x 14’ very warm. Right now I usually only have one going because the nights aren’t that cold. I’ll be interested to see how they work in 20 degree weather.

    Robin

  • RuthieJ says:

    I’m glad your chickens finally decided to try and get along. I enjoy reading your first-hand accounts of “life with chickens.”

  • Haley says:

    LOL wouldn’t life be boring without animals, BTW your garden is gorgeous.

  • Kate says:

    I just found your blog and I’m hooked!! I have chicken fantasies – LOL. I’ve looked into the eglu and different types of chicken housing and one of my odd little life dreams is to be a proud chicken owner one day. We used to own ducks and found them very messy and high-maintenance. I’m going to go back and read all of your chicken posts to catch up!!

    Another chicken lover! Thanks for visiting.

    I do like the Eglu and think it’s a nice product, particularly if you can allow the chickens to free range for a few hours/day. I tend to think they’re happier with a bit more room.

    Still, they do just fine. I would stick with 2 or 3 in the Eglu, although they say that you can house 4.

    Robin

  • Colleen says:

    I am loving reading about your chickens–now I’ll at least somewhat know what to expect when I get mine (still a few years away, unfortunately.)

    I think your husband’s right about Minnie/Brett. I bet if you started calling him Brett he’d warm right up to you πŸ™‚

  • Anne says:

    Hens strutting about and barking like dogs! LOL! what a fun post… though maybe not a fun event for the chicks. I trust they will eventually coexist peacefully… we had similar pecking order issues with our pet birds, but they are now in peaceful agreement that I am at the bottom…

  • Heh… how cute, to have found all 5 of them all huddled up after all. πŸ™‚ Can’t wait to see what you find out re: the existence (or not) of roosters amongst your brood!

    I’m still waiting for a definitive sign, but I do think that Olive and Minnie Ruth will need to be re-named. But for the most part they get along, so I might just keep two roosters. We’ll see.

    Robin

  • Barbee' says:

    There is an award waiting for you on my blog, if you are interested. Feel free to play or not play. Just want you to know your work is appreciated.
    There Are More?

    Hello Barbee!

    Thank you so much for the kind words and the link. It’s always nice to hear I’m on someone’s favorite reading list.

    Robin

  • LOL…yes chickens are so much fun. We have 13 hens, no roosters (they’re in the freezer…long story!) anyway enjoy your chickens they are precious!

  • Connie says:

    Chickens can be so brutal. I am toying with the idea of having some again, but my dilemna is that I think they should be free ranged, but they are so destructive in my garden. Any solutions?

    Well, you’re right about chickens messing up a garden. Fortunately, the area where I do my most intensive gardening and where small plants are most likely to be destroyed by their foraging is fenced. The chickens’ free ranging will have to be taken into consideration with all my other new plantings. I don’t yet have any solutions. Only problems!

    Still, I love the chickens.

    Robin

error: Content is protected !!