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Coming Through…Every Chicken for Himself! October 3, 2006

Posted by Laura in Farm.

Last fall, we had several hens go broody at what I thought was an odd time- the beginning of October. I do so hate to waste a good broody hen, so I bought some eggs from breeders auctioning fertile eggs on eBay. The clutch set by arthritic Sgt. Black included a few of this and that from a lady who bred quite a few varieties. Out of that hatching, we got 3 Silkies (remember Russia, so named for her “fur” hat?), 1 Frizzle who looks like she had a perm, and a pair of Mille Fleurs. They are a French bantam breed and the name translates to “Thousand Flowers,” because of the many black and white spots on the feather tips.


They amuse me greatly. They have puffy cheek feathers which gives them a chipmunk-like apprearance. The female has long curving feathers coming off the sides of her legs. It looks like she is trying to run in snowshoes when she gets in a hurry. The male is extremely self-assured, but suffers from “little man’s syndrome” without a doubt. Despite being the smallest rooster on the farm by several inches, he struts like the barnyard belongs to him and crows (his little crow) about twice as often as the rest. We decided he needed an appropriate name so we call him Napoleon and his companion Josephine.

Being compact and lightweight, these two can easily make it over the fence in the chicken yard, so it is rare that they are not loose on the lawn. By afternoon, they have the relative safety of the company of the others released for foraging of their favorite bugs. In the mornings, though, they have only the “treesleepers” out with them.

Last week, I happened to look out the kitchen window just in time to see a hawk sweep down in a blur and try to scoop one of them up. I was surprised to see that happen under what I (and they) falsely thought was some cover- the dense shady canopy of the pecan trees.

The moment before I saw the blur, I noticed Napoleon running and then bulldozing over Josephine to get under the low branches of the “treesleeper’s” evergreen. That is what made me look more closely- unfortunately, I have come to learn that if the chickens are running, I usually need to go find and deal with a predator, (or at least a naughty kitten or child).

The hawk missed the first time and quickly swooped back for a second try. By that time, the banty pair had made it to the safety of the evergreen. I went outside to check on them and scolded Napoleon for his unchivalrous behavior in pushing past Josie, thinking only of his own hide. He seemed unconcerned at my rebuke.


(At only a little over 6 inches tall, Napoleon appears just about life-size on your screen. 🙂 What strut that boy has!)


This episode just further highlights our need to get the chickens in tractors!




1. Laurie - October 4, 2006


We are wanting to raise a few chickens, but have run into some trouble with the local commercial turkey farmers that don’t want chickens around. 😦

2. Laura - October 4, 2006

I’m so sorry to hear that- much as these little guys can frustrate me at times, I enjoy them immensely.

I imagine the turkey farmers’ reluctance is due to disease concerns. Chickens and turkeys can both get Blackhead, for instance, but it doesn’t tend to be so terrible in chickens. It is generally fatal in turkeys, or so I’ve read.

If the turkeys are confinement raised (thousands in big sheds), they have disease issues they battle constantly anyways. They probably fear that their birds, with compromised immune systems, would be more susceptible to things that free-range flocks could bring onto the premises. Too bad!

Maybe if you assure them that your chickens would be contained to a fenced-in yard (you may have to clip their flight feathers to KEEP them in) or better yet, in portable coops (like “chicken tractors”) that would remain on your property, you could overcome the resistance. Can they really legally prevent you from having them on your own land? That doesn’t sound fair or right.

I hope you win!

Out of curiosity, what part of the country do you live in?

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

3. Laurie - October 5, 2006

We are dealing with confinement turkeys. There isn’t any legal reason they can keep us out, but my husband does do chores every few weeks for our turkey-farmer neighbor. We live entirely too close to a highway to let chickens free range. We have a small building to use and had planned to use a tractor. Of course we tore down the chicken shed a few years ago!!

We live in SE Iowa. We have 160 acres and 13 horses, but no other livestock…unless you count farm cats!! LOL We rent out our farm ground to a local farmer.

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