Chicken Ranching

Monday, July 18, 2021 — (In 4 days, July’s fullest moon [“Thunder”] will rise.)

Here’s a photo of my baby chicks just before I re-opened an exit allowing them entrance to a larger fenced area that houses my old, still-thriving hen, Welsummer, and twin aging dwarf goats. I kept the babies separately from Welsummer for a long time, wanting them to grow into less easy victims for her annoyed attacking beak.

Recently, during a first-time meeting with Welsummer, the chicks adored her and rushing to say hello were met with a most evil “Get away!” Welsummer grabbed one skinny neck (of white bird, forefront in the photo). Thinking she was ending my baby, I chased Welsummer and tossed her angry self from the chick area.

How to integrate the bunch safely?

The chicks, not yet fully grown are big and healthy, will start laying in a month. They need freedom to roam wider and gain easy access to the coop’s feeders and nests.

Yesterday, they ventured out slowly and cautiously, one by one, until all were in the larger area. Excited! They pecked, squeaked, and moved grouped as one. On seeing them, Welsummer charged and I headed her off with warnings. The hen got it and after a couple of attempted attacks backed off, still grouching but staying away. The twins watching casually couldn’t have cared less about their new space-mates.

I hung around for an hour or so before retreating. The re-opened exit gate might as well have remained closed, for the chicks preferred returning to their area and huddling, while Welsummer stayed in hers.

This morning will reveal if anything’s changed. I’m hopeful all the chickens are alive. Including Welsummer, who at eleven years (mega-old for a domestic egg-layer), might have been stimulated to a point of stroke.

I love old Welsummer. She’s still beautiful, and friendly with me and the twins. Not wanting entirely to lose that old girl is why I acquired the babies. At first, I intended to have just a couple of little Welsummers, but became seduced by the cuteness and irresistability of tiny chickens. After lots of hand-wringing, I settled on having one baby Welsummer and six of other breeds. No mistake, too, for they’ve become a flock of friendly sweet birds.

Now, just need all of them safely to be together.

Dear Friends: Birds of all types are amazing creatures, smart, fun, and worth knowing well. Diana

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