Could use some encouragement

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mollyo, Mar 6, 2013.

  1. mollyo

    mollyo New Egg

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    Mar 6, 2013
    Hi there, longtime lurker, first time poster! I hope folks can help me out with any advice or encouragement.

    We got the chicken bug last year and have a nice shed-type coop & run on an urban lot in Seattle. My 7yo daughter, mom and I raised three chicks to pullethood (about 6 months now). They free-range sometimes in our yard when we are home, and I rigged up some fencing, plus we keep a close eye on them from inside the house where we can see the whole free-range area. Well, two did not come in to the coop last Saturday, it got stormy in the afternoon and we thought we'd see them under the deck as we usually do when the weather gets bad. But I had actually moved one fence out so they had more free-range room, and now we couldn't find them -- that part of the yard has more hidey places. One came out, Michelle the Barred Rock, when we called chick-chick-chick, and we put her in the coop. But the others never showed, and after much hunting that night in the rainy cold, we gave up...I figured they must be hiding out somewhere. Later I heard squawking about 3:30 am (woke me up) and I looked out where I thought it was coming from and saw nothing. Spooky. In the morning, we found a pile of feathers in the front yard (outside the fence) where the smaller girl (Molly) was probably attacked by a raccoon, we have big ones in our area. She was the smallest of the three and might have been chased over the fence.

    Later that morning as the grass dried out we found some orange feathers from the other missing chicken, a big orange Orpington named Hillary, just inside our fence. It didn't look good. I had put up a bunch of notices on local blogs and Craigslist, and we had put up flyers in the neighborhood, but when we found the feathers we figured they probably both got taken and we took the signs down. Many neighbors had seen the signs and said such nice things! But nobody had seen Hillary or Molly.

    Michelle, the Barred Rock, was calling all morning from the coop. We felt so sorry for her, and sad ourselves. It was Sunday and we decided to go to the local grange and see if there were any pullets her age we could bring home. We chose two, another buff Orpington and an Ameraucana, they are a little younger than Michelle and smaller, but very very sweet girls. We let them all free-range together and everybody was stressed out and Michelle was dominating the two smaller girls, but no major violence was going on and it seemed like they could work it out. (I know we should have quarantined, but we aren't set up for that and have a small yard, and frankly, if Michelle got sick because of new hens we would just start all over with new chicks.)

    The girls are coexisting but not terribly happy; Michelle is still dominant big time over the new two (she was in the middle of the pecking order before), and they both pick on the smaller & younger Ameraucana, who had some picked-at tailfeathers at the grange & was probably low in the pecking order. But no blood has been drawn, and they all sleep on the same roost. The new pullets are not used to treats, which surprised us, so we have not been able to excite them with the usual kitchen scraps, but they are very people-friendly and my daughter holds them on her lap until they fall asleep. Maybe they aren't used to free-ranging either? They both hung around the coop all day on Monday although I let them out and kept Michelle inside. The Orpington (this chicken "belongs" to my mom, who lives with us) is Hillary II, and the Ameraucana is named Sunset (she is beautiful!).

    I actually got a VM last night from a call that wasn't obvious on my phone, from the night before, from someone who says she saw a big orange chicken by a house quite far from us, maybe 1/2 mile thru the city. It may or may not be Hillary, but I have a feeling it is her... how many big orange chickens are wandering around loose? She was an aggressive bird too. She is apparently wandering far & wide, and unfortunately this call was from the day before, so I won't likely be able to track her down, but I have updated all my notices and maybe somebody will catch her in that neck of the woods and turn her in. Who knows?

    Anyway, I'm a little sad and flustered by all of this, and would appreciate any kind words or help! Thanks, Molly.
     
  2. mollyo

    mollyo New Egg

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    Mar 6, 2013
    My profile pic is of Hillary and Molly, btw.
     

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