...sometimes even a single feather is enough to fly. (Robert Maclean)


moving day for The Littles

Last weekend 
The Littles got some mail.

They received an eviction notice from the Gardening Committee.  

You see, they were living in one of our main fenced garden areas 
and now that it's time to get busy in the garden, 
the Littles had to find a new home over yonder. 

Lucky for them, we're nice landladies 
and we provided them with some nice digs in the main chicken yard.  

And lucky for us, 
they've been tilling and fertilizing our garden beds since the fall, 
so our garden beds are probably better than they've ever been!  

We spent the day fencing off a part of the yard, tightening up the coop,
making sure they would be safe and sound there.
The idea of the fence was to have a physical barrier 
between The Littles and The Bigs.
We didn't want any bloodshed.
We just wanted them to see each other and get used to each other.
Especially Emmaline.
Emmaline is territorial.


When it was moving day, we just said,
"Okay girls.  Okay Emmaline.  Let's do this!"
We scooped them up, carried them over, 
and deposited them at their new (albeit temporary) residence.

We got this cute little coop on Craigslist last spring.
Originally we thought it would be a retirement home for old hens,
or maybe an isolation coop for a sick bird or a broody bird,
but turns out it's also a great intermediate coop 
for slowly integrating one flock into another.
   Easy access to the nests for collecting eggs.
And a window we can open/close however much or little for ventilation.

 There's a little area underneath the coop for taking dirt baths.

The guy who built it made it look a little bit like an old country outhouse.

I put them in and after 10-15 minutes I went back to check and see if they had settled in.
Where's Betty?!

Betty flew herself right up to the tippy top!
That isn't a roost that she's on.
It's part of the structure of the coop...
I think it's just a thin piece of wood to brace the sides and keep it straight.

 Emmaline didn't like not having control over Betty.
So by the next morning he had gotten himself up there, too.

He kept crowing and crowing... 
He couldn't figure out how to get down.
So I had to put a tomato stake up,
which they promptly stepped on and I slowly lowered it down.

(I thought they would stop doing that, 
but they went up again the next night 
but they did manage to figure out how to get down
on their own the next morning
without calling 911 for a lift-assist).

 Goldie hangs out low on the main roosts.

But speaking of roost-ers.

Oh, Emmaline.
Not long after we moved the Littles over to their temporary abode,
we starting seeing more of Emmaline's undesirable behaviors.

He was on guard ALL THE TIME.  Testosterone was pumping.
Emmaline was puffing up, trying to attack the Bigs through the fence.
Emmaline was bossing / herding The Littles almost constantly.

Emmaline was mating with Betty and Goldie so much 
that the tops of their wings were completely raw and featherless.  
Once I counted the frequency of mating when I was working out there.  
Every 5-10 minutes.  
Squawk!  Mount. Squawk!  Feathers flying.  

Then, the crowing.

This coop is closer to our bedroom window than the garden coop.
And Emmaline had been crowing earlier and earlier.
In the height of summer, I think it could get even earlier.  
I am SO not into 4am cock-a-doodle-doo-ing.

So, all things considered...
It seemed like the Emmaline's sole purpose in our flock
(warding off a predator)
did not outweigh the difficulties of keeping him around.

It did not seem worth all of the muss and fuss,
and it became more and more apparent 
that integrating Emmaline into our old flock of settled hens
was going to be incredibly stressful for everyone involved.
Us, the hens, and even him.  
 So, Emmaline went bye-bye Wednesday night. 
We were so ready to be done with him that  
 we honestly wouldn't have cared if 
he went into someone's freezer or stock pot.

But he went to a small farm where there are 13 girls he can get his rocks off with.
He should be very happy.

And just like that, 
in the blink of an eye 
and a toot of the farm truck's horn,
our little flock of girls went back to being peaceful and quiet.
The kind of quiet 
like when you sigh a satisfied sigh of contentment
sipping your coffee in the morning
thinking about all of the possibilities of the day.

Ever... and I mean ever-so-briefly
Goldie acted a little thrown off by Emmaline's departure.
She was so used to being bossed around 
and having him dictate so many of her moves.

But, by the next morning, 
she realized there was no one to boss her around.
No one to ruin her beautiful feathers.  
She was a free bird!
Well, almost free.
Their chicken yard is very big.

It was fun to watch her forage,
and go wherever she wanted to go,
living the free life!  


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