Hello all, I have been keeping poultry for over a year and a half and I thought it was time I shared my stories, the many mistakes, highs and lows of my experience.
On my birthday at the end of July, I made the journey to a local breeders in the north west of England.
I was going to get two exbattery hens because I had researched thoroughly and wanted to rescue some hens. But then when I arrived, I saw the pen of Polish hens and fell in love and before I knew it I had two ex batteries, babs and Ginger (names based off chicken run) and Sophie, a white polish hen. (Named after my brothers girlfriend at the time lol)
We knew not to expect eggs, the ex batteries were molting and Sophie would be stressed after the journey. But nope the day after there was a cream coloured egg in the nest box from Sophie.
We soon realised that our coop wouldn't be large enough for them full time so that next weekend we transformed the trampoline into a run for them.
They bonded really well each with their own unique personalities, Sophie was mad and quirky and babs and ginger were large gentile birds. Sophie's strong personality coupled with their sweetness meant there didn't seem to be a pecking order which was surprising considering how small Sophie was compared to them.
The girls sunbathing and my daughter with them.
However this was in summer and soon come Autumn their run was muddy so we a stablished a routine. We would leave the coop door open so they could wake up whenever and then when we woke up we would let them free range.
Soon babs and ginger had regrown their feathers and began laying eggs (the larger one is ginger's and lighter one is babs') :
At Halloween we went back to the breeder and got chicks, I wanted a light Sussex, a Blackrock and another polish. When we got there we were told that polish couldn't be sexed at birth and it was a 50:59 chance we would get a white leghorn instead of a light Sussex, we took the risk, we didn't mind.
My daughter with the chicks:
The yellow chick is the Sussex/whitle leghorn Daffney, the black is the Blackrock hermione and the one with the hair do is the slightly older polish.
Wow that's a lot of typing, I'll update with the rest of the story later.
Ok, now I have time to continue my story, beware though things start to go bad at this point onwards.
The day after we got the chicks Daffney died, I don't know why but she was a day old chick and things can happen, so only Torchic the polish chick and Hermione the Blackrock chick remained, we called the breeder to let them know about the death and they said we could get a free one to replace her, and so Zazzles came home.The chicks grew fast and they lived in my daughters bedroom where she paid them avid attention.
By this point we knew Torchic was a girl and Zazzles was a White leghorn.
Soon they were out side, we wanted to integrate them slowly so they got the old small eBay coup and run and the big girls got a nice new coop which would be able to take all six birds once they were all together.
Sophie was not happy about the coop change she refused to go to bed by herself so would sleep on top of eBay coop until we moved her. She took a fascination with the new eBay coop members where babs and ginger took no notice.
Soon we had introduce them all together and apart from Sophie disliking Torchic to begin with, everything was going smoothly
Hermione, Torchic and ginger.
Babs in the front and Zazzles on a tree.
Then Torchic disappeared, I was sad and in shock, but I didn't change anything, oh God how much I regret that.
A few months down the line I came home from picking my daughter up and she said there were feathers in the field next to our house, and there in the middle lay Ginger. We rushed her inside to see the extent of her injuries, and found a note from a lady. The note said that our Ginger had been in the front and when she had been walking past (we live near a public footpath) her dog had went for her, they both ran and she tried to follow them but soon her dog had returned with feathers in his pelt, she said she searched for the chicken but couldn't find her and was incredibly sorry.
We rushed to the vet and he examined the wounds, gave us medicine and said she should be fine. We isolated her for a while while she recovered and soon she was back in the flock, and babs was glad, she had missed her friend.
Soon we discovered white and dark brown eggs from Hermione and Zazzles.
Then Ginger disappeared and I was devastated.
Then we only let them free range while we were there, but it didn't work, on the Middle of a Sunday, I glanced out the window and saw babs was in a foxes mouth, I yelled and jumped through the open window. It dropped Babs and she was gasping for breath, I decided that if she survived the night I would take her to the vets, I really didn't think she would, but my little fighter had survived. I took her to the vets, she had broken multiple toes and had large wounds on her body. The vet set her on antibiotics but warned us while they were our only hope they may cause here kidneys to fail. We would know if this happened because the whites of her poop would go a bright orange or green. But she survived and I soon reintroduced her to the flock.
We made a run for them and didn't let them free range anymore I didn't want anymore run ins with the fox, but they made a habit of flying out, and we didn't modify it in time.
A couple of months later I was looking out of the window I saw Sophie had jumped out, I tutted and walked to the back door to put her back in but before I did there was a flash of feathers and Sophie was gone, I screamed and saw a trail of feathers but couldn't find my Sophie. My daughter and I were distraught as Sophie was her favourite.
From then on we went in full lock down mode, only in the trampoline run which we covered with chicken wire on top.
babs started limping badly from her old wounds but soon recovered.
Then one night my daughter glanced out the window and screamed a fox was in the trampoline run and had Hermione in its mouth. We rushed out rescued the chickens and the fox was tramped in the trampoline run. I couldn't deal with it, my eldest sun was at home from uni at the time and had brought out a meat knife, I told him to do what he thought best and took my daughter inside.
After much deliberation he released the fox, looking back at it I probably would have but I don't blame the foxes, it is the food change after all.
Hermione was gasping just like babs but not as badly, it was pitch black by then and I did the same thing as I did with babs and left her, hoping my gorgeous Hermione was also a fighter.
She was dead by morning with lots of evidence of internal bleeding. I buried her alongside two hamsters, bitterly sad at the loss but glad I at least got to burry her, after all the losses this was the first one I had buried.
And then there were two, only babs and Zazzles remained, I looked on this website and online and ordered an electric fence after much research, in the mean time the remaining chickens were in the same coop and run as when I had got the first got babs and ginger and Sophie, irony is a sad thing.
It took two months to come, in the mean time I used the plastic chicken fencing to make a run that they couldn't escape from but only let them out in it when I was sat outside with them with them and was watching them which I did each day for at least two hours.
When the fence finally arrived we set it up and finally they were able to range their run without me having to be sitting out in the freezing cold with them.
At Halloween, at the same time as we first got the chicks I got an araucana called Selma 22 weeks old and an Appenzeller called Peggy named 24 weeks.
They were very nervous but have settled since but it has been ten weeks and I have seen not hide nor hair of an egg, their combs aren't even red!
This is a post I made on another thread but it's relevant here :
Okay so I wrote this post once but then the blooming IPad crashed and reloaded the page :/
It's time for an update since I have been away for a few days visiting my dad. It had snowed since and the girls were not pleased!
Zazzles was the first to great me but because she hasn't been able to dust bathe recently she looks quite dirty.
Babs was second to say hello, my little soldier was intent on eating my hair so I couldn't get a good photo. She rewarded me with a lovely brown torpedo shaped egg which was so much nicer than the corrugated and thin shelled eggs she has been doing recently.
My Spitzhauben Peggy wasn't keen on the camera so only with the help of zoom could I get a decent pic. According to the breeder she should be 34 weeks now but I have received no treasures from her yet. However she does have very soft feathers!
This is the only photo I could get of camera shy Selma, after not seeing her for a few days I was pleasantly surprised suprised because her comb has gone a dark pink, soon!
For those wondering the are in a run surrounded by an electric fence.
Well, for now this is my journey with ups and downs a plenty, I invite you to come a long with me and stopping me making any more mistakes.
Thanks for reading, I know it was a long read but I hope you found it was worth you time.