My first day with hens - the rollercoaster ride (long)

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ChickaChickaBoomBoom, Jul 18, 2007.

  1. ChickaChickaBoomBoom

    ChickaChickaBoomBoom Songster

    May 4, 2007
    Auburn, WA
    Monday the 16th of July was to be the day I finally got my hens. My small coop and run were finally done, and now the moment of truth had arrived. As a first-timer, I had zero clue what to expect, and living in a suburban subdivision with little room between homes, I was eagerly if cautiously looking forward to the day.

    My main problem though was that the person I was going to buy my two hens from was unavailable, and I REALLY wanted it to be Monday, so I began contacting people from Craigslist in the Seattle area who had previously posted, and finally, around 4:00pm someone from about 50 miles south called and offered me some hens. With my 8 year old son in tow, off we went.

    The experience was fun - she had dozens of free-ranging hens and roosters - and in the end, we got three. One was either a Buff Orpington or a Buff Cornish Hen (given to her by the neighbor, she couldn't remember which) and was beautiful, so we took her. We also picked two mixed breeds. They are Black Australorp mixed with either Rhode Island Red or Americauna. I guess we'll have a better clue when the eggs start in the next month or so.

    The ride home was great, and we eagerly placed them in their new run. Our two free-range rabbits began stomping their feet in protest, but soon mellowed. We put one in the run to see what would happen, and other than a cold nose touching a few behinds, no one seemed to care. He came out and the other boy bunny went in, but he went straight for the food, so we kicked him out.

    For the next hour or so, we interacted with them, offering them some cantaloupe and petting them and so forth. As it got dark, though, they had no interest in "walking the plank" to the coop, but rather went in the far back corner under the coop where the food and water are, making a mess in the process. I decided to let them be, and just moved the food out into the run area. Then it was goodnight.

    ...And then 5:30am happened. I don't know how to describe it. It reminded me of when geese fly over your house heading south for the winter. But it also sounded like a hen who was perhaps pushing out the largest egg known to man. Oh, and add a pinch of strangled duck. Whatever you want to call it, it was loud!

    At first I just sat there, thinking to myself "Oh...My...God... What have I done?" The coop is probably about 20-25 feet from the neighbors' nearest window, so this was very unnerving. I consoled myself by thinking that this must be that once every few days egg laying, where the laying hen and her friends make a scene until the big moment passes. And indeed, after about 15 minutes of me hiding my head under the pillow, it suddenly stopped.

    Wow! What an egg! Or at least, that's what I thought. Well after 30 minutes of relative silence, when i could try to calm down and start telling myself it would be fine, and that they probably thought it was a crow or duck or something, it all started in again. It really sounded like a chorus, with one hen going "cluckcluckcluckcluckcluck" in one long rapid pulse, with another doing the goose call every few seconds. I'm not sure what the third was doing - maybe she was laying the egg.

    Anyhow, on the clothes came and down I went. I expected to see them all huddled in a corner, one of them squeezing for all her might. Instead, they all were standing around the feed dispenser. And the vocalizations stopped completely, as they all just looked at me like "Do you mind? We're TALKING!"

    Well, at least they had stopped. So then I grabbed my stool and sat down and waited for them to start up again with their three hen show. Instead, come to find out, it was all coming from the one pretty buff hen. She managed to do some sort of voice throwing trick that had me and I'm guessing the rabbits thoroughly convinced that someone was dying. And I'm sure if the neighbors had gotten a vote, they'd have chosen me.

    So I spent the next 45 minutes going between talking to her, petting her, throwing oatmeal in for pecking pleasure, and typing a Craigslist For Sale ad. By 8:30am this morning I had received a call, and her fate was set. After my son's baseball game tonight, our Buff girl was off to a home about 10 miles away where she would be able to roam with five new friends and make all of the noise she wanted. I was at peace.

    Remarkably, when I got home tonight, the two roughly 14-16 week old crosses had already put themelves to bed up in the coop - in the nesting area versus the roost, but at least in the right structure. I quickly closed the doorway, so that if they decide in the morning to make a ruckus, it will be a mild, muffled ruckus.

    We'll see how tomorrow goes. Both hens seem very mellow and quiet - just the minor "ruuuuuaaaaahhhhhhh" now and again, but no goose music or anything. We'll hope for the best.

    Sorry for the long post - I really needed counseling today, but having the vocal girl out of here tonight will really ease my mind going to sleep. I will post some pics once I can get on Photobucket (not responding tonight), and I will do a separate posting in the coop/run area with some photos.

    But for now, it's bedtime!

  2. justusnak

    justusnak Flock Mistress

    Feb 28, 2007
    South Eastern Indiana
    Dave.....what a great read. Thanks. Im sure they were all just "talking" about thier new home and trying out the pecking order. Im sorry you had to get rid of the new hen tho. You might have just waited one more day...talked to the nabors..see how they felt. At least you have 2 hens tho. Congrats on your new pets!!
  3. Lunachick

    Lunachick Chicken Slave

    Mar 19, 2007
    Brick, NJ
    Great story - well told. Good luck with your hens. Can't wait for the pics.
  4. ChickaChickaBoomBoom

    ChickaChickaBoomBoom Songster

    May 4, 2007
    Auburn, WA
    I had a lot of mixed feelings about getting rid of her so quickly:

    "Geez, guy, you couldn't handle your first day?"

    "She was so sweet. If you weren't going to keep her, I wish you hadn't adopted her from us."

    "I was JUST TALKING!"

    But I will say this. At 7:30am this morning, I hadn't heard a word from the two girls, and that - for me - was priceless. I've had a lot of stress at work this year, and honestly the process of researching and then acquiring chickens has been very soothing. If I ended up with more stress due to my decision, it would have been very negative in my life.

    Having said that, you may very well be right, and she might have just been getting used to the joint. Hopefully, her big new home and friends will make up for that today :). As it was, I really only was going to get two, but as many here say, it's hard to stop!


    P.s. I had my 8 year old son out there with me this morning, and even got him to scoop a little poop. I wonder how long that's gonna last? :)

  5. SpottedCrow

    SpottedCrow Flock Goddess

    Some birds just have big beaks and never shut up...I can see about the stress, but if it had been me, I might've given it another day...but that's me...
    Good luck with your new birdies.
  6. ChickaChickaBoomBoom

    ChickaChickaBoomBoom Songster

    May 4, 2007
    Auburn, WA
    Thanks SpottedCrow. I do understand the idea of giving it more than one bad morning. If I wasn't a life-long, professional worrier, it wouldn't have been as much of a problem. Funny, I even let my stress-reliever stress me out!

    Oh, and just for fun, my new stress today is smell. No, I can't be happy with whispering hens, now I need something else to worry about. [​IMG]

    With just two young hens, I'm already noticing that kinda sweet yet not-so-sweet smell blowing in the wind when I walk in the backyard. It surprises me, because I've done the sand-and-kitty-litter scoop twice a day, and otherwise kept the coop/run clean.

    However, it did rain today, and I notice that their small, covered 4x6 run gets about 3/4 damp. I'll need to put some sort of plywood awning on the side that can shield them from the rain more. Perhaps the moisture didn't help. I do need to get some of the - what's the name? - Sweet PDZ? The bunnies could probably use it too.

    Anyhow, thanks for the comments everyone. Hopefully by Monday I can get some better pics and post them of the girls and their home.


  7. anndee

    anndee In the Brooder

    Sep 17, 2007
    seattle, wa
    hi, just obtained my first coop and ready for some hens. i live just north of seattle, any clues on anyone around here selling any hens? and i am having a hard time finding the closest store for chicken feed etc,...?
    and reading your post, very entertaining, is there any way to know if the hens are loud like that? or do you think i am better off raising chicks?

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