Brand new at BYC, less new with hens, but learning daily still

Lu dovicianus

In the Brooder
Dec 29, 2020
I've been messing with chickens for past few years, and had some hard times. First three were cared for by me for months at a neighbor's sideyard until they reached laying age. They were then given to me altogether (much to my wife's dismay. (She figured they would take up too much time and render me unavailable to do stuff with her... Chicken envy perhaps.) Two of those three were killed by a raccoon one eve when I failed to shut their coop door in a timely way. She, Delores (the 3rd) who remained alive took to crowing like a rooster every morning and quit laying eggs all together. I'd plucked and cleaned the carcasses of her sisters (after the raccoon attack) and imagined we'd eat them (like chicken) but my wife found that to be an intolerable notion.
Eventually I opened a pack of 6 day old chicks that were delivered to us via USPS and raised them separately from the transexual Delores. When I supposed they might be big enough to safely mingle I let them loose in Delores' run area and the boss pecker among the younguns and Delores flew together with malice and intent to maim. They met in midair and a major MMA battle began. I was able to distract them with a wheelbarrow full of earthworm laden near-complete compost, and after they'd sifted through that together they apparently decided to be friends (with some slight jockeying for appropriate pecking order). After a month or two, Delores abandoned her crowing altogether, became a contented top momma, and eventually began to lay eggs again.
Life was good until a male fox entered one afternoon, killed 5 chickens, left one other for dead and buried (cached) the whole lot of them under loose leaf ground cover. The fox was the daddy of a litter of kits who were hanging under a house about 150 feet away. I caught him in a Have-a-Heart type trap and moved him across the Mississippi River, but we've still got foxes -red and gray, in the neighborhood and coyotes have become way too common here in suburban Baton Rouge LA. Raccoons have always been here and assorted hawks and owls (including barred great horned owls) are common.
I acquired six, day-old/no name (i.e. no specific breed listed) chicks in the early days of Covid. One died (my bad) of pasty butt but the 5 who survived me ineptness are now fat and sassy and laying an egg apiece per day. They've got an area to roam that is about 50 ft by 60 ft and full of small trees and banana plants to protect them from winged potential assailants above; and a 4.5 ft electric fence to keep them safe from ground level marauders. So far so good.
In the meantime ...3 months ago I acquired another 5 day-old chicks including 2 Easter Eggers, 1 Rhode Island Red, 1 Silverlaced Wyandotte and 1 buff Orpington. They're a motley crew and they are now sharing grazing ground with their big (resentful) sisters. I add a bag or two of fallen leaves (which neighbors rake up, bag, and leave at the street along with grass clippings and assorted vegetative years bits) every day to the ground of the girls "jungle". Sifting, scratching and pecking through the leaf matter keeps the girls happy, busy and it is creating a gigantic compost pile out of the entire jungle.
Predators so far are appropriately wary of the electric fence voodoo gris gris, and the two flocks of girls are beginning to tolerate each other a bit. Life is good!

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