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weird things chickens have done

 
pollinator
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Is it time for a thread about weird things chickens have done?  Oh, I think so.

For inspiration I looked at the wonderful thread:
weird things cats have done

and in putting this together I discovered:
weird things dogs have done

So here it goes:  

I've had my five week old chicks in a greenhouse with a fan heater for the last couple of weeks as it has been really cold here.  I was concerned at first that they might be a bit scared of the heater clicking on and off but, no, that was definitely not a problem.

When it goes on the chicks all rush and lie down in front of it with a wing up to catch the breeze.  They they turn over and do the other side.  A couple of them have now taken to standing in front of the fan with both wings out like they are recreating the scene from Titanic.  

When the heater goes off, one of the chicks called Buffy goes round the back and pecks it to try and make it go on again.

I was laughing so hard at this the other day that I tripped on the way out of the greenhouse because one of the chicks had untied my shoelace.  

 
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This is even funnier because, this morning, two of the pullets and three Dorking hens stood, very patiently, to wait for me to open the gate so they could walk into the yard. We even put "airlocks" in the front gate area because they wouldn't jump the fence to get back inside - just to get out.
I know they jump the fence several times a day, and will use the airlocks to the point of running around the yard to do so, but if I'm outside, I get to be "Gate Guard".

Chickens. They are great at creating small amounts of silly absurdity on a local level.  
 
Sarah Elizabeth
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That's great. Kristine's post is a perfect example.

So after some very cold weather, it is now getting really warm here.  

I grabbed a big piece of cardboard and made an extra shelter for the chicks with a low flat roof and a sloping side.  

Already two chicks have figured out that they can fly up on top and slide down the sloping side on their fuzzy rear ends.
 
Kristine Keeney
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Pics or it didn't happen! Gotta see the cuteness!
 
Sarah Elizabeth
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Kristine Keeney wrote:Pics or it didn't happen! Gotta see the cuteness!



Ha ha, you are so right.  I don't have a phone but I will see if I can get them in action with my old Nikon..
 
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My chickens have done some pretty weird things, but this thread makes me think they could step their game up. Of course, now they're teenage chickens, so who knows what they'll do.

The other day, I went in their run whilst wearing a tank top. Bluebell, who loves to jump up and cuddle was nestled in the crook of my arm. But then she discovered my arm pit hair and began trying to eat it. Very strange sensation.

Another day, I went in there to find what at first looked like blood smeared across one of their heads. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be poke berry juice. I guess Violet wanted to decorate herself? I have no idea where she came in contact with a poke berry though. There aren't any poke plants in their run and currently, there's a tarp over it for shade. Nor do I understand how she got the juice on her forehead. Mysterious.

The smallest two, Bluebell and Harriet, take turns attempting to burrow under one another and all the other chickens at night, much to the annoyance of the others. It's adorable. Until someone inevitably gets knocked down in a fit of flapping. Another time, I watched Bluebell walk directly between the legs of another chicken rather than try to go through the crowd to the feeder.

For quite some time, Harriet would alarm and run away crying whenever she saw a daddy long legs in the run or even outside the fence. Eventually, one of the bigger chickens, Farah would come over and settle things down by eating the creature.
I think at one point, Harriet had tried to eat one. Apparently, they can emit a really bad smell when threatened, and I would guess this lead to the behavior. Interestingly though, a few of the others picked up the alarming and running away for awhile, even though I never saw them experience what Harriet did. Maybe she told them? I imagine her on the roost at night, maybe holding a flashlight under her face, telling the tale of the seemingly delicious crawly thing that turned out to be super icky and scary to the others.
 
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One of my roosters like to sit on eggs. He'll get in a nesting box and like a hen, use his beak to move and arrange eggs underneath him. I even hear him sing something much like "the egg song" that hens declare to the world after laying an egg. I think others here who raise chickens will know this song I'm talking about. I've never actually seen him lay an egg....

nesting-rooster.jpeg
nesting rooster
nesting rooster
 
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Not sure it's weird, but it seemed unusual and INCREDIBLY sweet! We have one layer we've dubbed Rogue Hen 1, because she refuses to go into the henhouse, at night, opting for the highest point she can find, in the goat barn, instead. Yet, she's very affectionate, hopping up onto my lap, or next to me, on the porch swing, or following us around, and often demanding to be picked up. Yes. DEMANDING. She'll go from following, to running around in front of us, and squatting, in the universal (to chickens) 'pick me up now!' pose, very nearly tripping us, in the process.

Friday afternoon, was one such time. I was trying to get the goats fed, before my own dinner - but, she was not having it. After the third time of nearly tripping over her, I dropped the flakes of hay on the ground, and picked her up, and commenced with the petting and cooing at her, and she almost immediately flopped her head sideways, onto my chest (much like a baby, puppy, or kitten, wanting a close snuggle!), and held it there firmly, until after a couple minutes of intensive lubbinz, she raised her beak to nuzzle my cheek, and hopped down, to waddle along, on her merry way. It really made my day - I can always pick up the hay flakes, again - but an intensive chicken snuggle? Priceless!
 
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Mystique my 2 year old hen just hatched her first clutch, 6 of the cutest fluffballs ever. She takes them all over the "chicken yard" but won't allow them to cross my driveway even though she has been there very many times herself. My Roo went across this afternoon and spent almost 3 solid hours clucking for her and the littles to come over and get some fresh yummies. She refused and continuously herded her chicks away. Once old boy gave up and returned to her side he was rewarded with a henpecking for the ages lol. He is usually the boss so it was funny to see the rolls swapped!
 
Sarah Elizabeth
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Reading these posts makes me love chickens even more. Who knew they were so affectionate, stubborn, amusing, determined...

A quick update on Kristine's challenge to me to get some pictures of my chicks in action.

Well, the heater antics (original post) were already long gone when the challenge was laid down as the weather had warmed up.

I did try to get them sliding down the cardboard in the make-shift shelter in the greenhouse but that only lasted a day or so before they grew up enough to start thinking it was undignified (well, that's what I think they were saying to me).

I have taken a few test pictures of the little darlings with my old Nikon but I cannot get them to attach to the message.  I think the resolution is too high.  I will edit this post to add them when I figure this out.

[Edit: I figured it out.  See below.]

Anyway, when they are all grown up, I hope they are as beautiful as James' hen and roo above.

Heather Sharpe wrote:
Another day, I went in there to find what at first looked like blood smeared across one of their heads. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be poke berry juice. I guess Violet wanted to decorate herself? I have no idea where she came in contact with a poke berry though. There aren't any poke plants in their run and currently, there's a tarp over it for shade. Nor do I understand how she got the juice on her forehead. Mysterious.



This made me laugh.  Where did she get it from? Another chicken mystery. I guess with a name like Violet it was inevitable.

I have discovered that my chicks love grated beetroot which also makes the whole place look like a crime scene. An interesting factoid that came out of this "research" is that a chicken's gut transit time must be very fast because within about two hours,  I started to see purple poo appearing.  I am guessing no-one wants to see pictures of that.  
DSC_0013.JPG
four lovely chicks
four lovely chicks
DSC_0015-(1).JPG
don't they look like speckled eggs
don't they look like speckled eggs
 
Heather Sharpe
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Sarah Elizabeth wrote:

Heather Sharpe wrote:
Another day, I went in there to find what at first looked like blood smeared across one of their heads. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be poke berry juice. I guess Violet wanted to decorate herself? I have no idea where she came in contact with a poke berry though. There aren't any poke plants in their run and currently, there's a tarp over it for shade. Nor do I understand how she got the juice on her forehead. Mysterious.



This made me laugh.  Where did she get it from? Another chicken mystery. I guess with a name like Violet it was inevitable.

I have discovered that my chicks love grated beetroot which also makes the whole place look like a crime scene. An interesting factoid that came out of this "research" is that a chicken's gut transit time must be very fast because within about two hours,  I started to see purple poo appearing.  I am guessing no-one wants to see pictures of that.  


She's probably just going through a rebellious stage and is coloring her feathers to express herself. Maybe she talked a wren into sneaking her one? I sure wish she'd just stick to that, though. As a baby, she was super sweet and chill, hence her name. Now, she rules the flock with an iron fist (er, beak). She's a Salmon Faverolle, but I guess didn't read about how that breed is supposed to be all gentle and peaceful. Maybe she misheard and thinks her name is "Violent"? She even goes after the boys, who have to be separated mostly to protect them from her. They run even though they're far bigger than she is.

Ha, you must have a better memory than I. I've wanted to give my chickens beets, but worry I'd forget and be freaked out a couple hours later. Good to know it only takes two or so, maybe I can set a reminder on my phone, "It's okay, you fed them beets."

My chickens have made a much more amusing and literal joke of the classic, "Guess what? Chicken butt." They wait till I bend down to tend to their food and waterer and one of them jumps on my backside. At first, it wasn't very hard to guess, as it was always the same one. But now more of them are in on it. And somehow, they've figured out how to mimic the feeling of weight and vibe of each other so that frequently, I'll think I know who it is by how heavy they are and how it feels, only to find it's someone else.
 
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It's not particularly weird but it's mildly annoying.....The trouble with free ranging hens is, well they tend to roam! A few of the neighbours to the shop have chooks, and they are all pretty free ranging. The ones behind the shop we are able to sell the eggs from, since they are of a registered flock. There are two other properties with just a few house hens.
One of them is particularly free ranging - she likes to visit my neighbour just next door who feeds the whole neighbourhood wild birds. Unfortunately this chicken has also taken to wandering into the shop to see what she can find, This was much to the amusement of the tourists who were treated to the sight of my husband shooing her out of the shop on Saturday (several times!). We had some nice victoria plums in a box on the floor, and I'm afraid there were a few casualties!
 
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Mine were theoretically not free ranging, they were supposed to stay in the fenced area, but rules are for rabbits, ya know. One of them was a persistent jumper, the bugs are always bigger on the other side of the fence! When she jumped, sometimes the others would too if they were interested, but she was always the instigator.

They were friendly, well socialized birds, which was a bit of an issue when things happened like the Dish TV guys came to do something on the neighbor's roof. Hey! Maybe they can be hit up for snacks! Over the fence we go, dance at the guys, get underfoot, a lovely time was had by all, till I rounded them up and tossed them back over.

My doorbell rang once, lady across the street "A chicken pecked my butt!!" She was pulling weeds, and my fence jumper went to see if she was turning up anything interesting. I think the butt peck was probably just checking to see if she was edible, just in case. Optimism is a virtue!
 
Carla Burke
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That reminds me of a chat John and I were having, outside, chickens all around us - as we talked about their antics. John was wearing a pair of dark jeans, with bright yellow stitching, and we thought it was cute that they kept pecking at the stitching around his leg hems. One of the girls stepped back, looking up at him, for several seconds, her head cocked first one way, then the other, until suddenly, she jumped up and pecked at... well... his pecker! There was a bit of back-stitching at the zipper, that (upon inspection, after he stopped dancing around), we quickly discovered looked rather like a bright yellow, bug!
 
Heather Sharpe
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I think my chickens have taken my joking about them being deceptively cute velociraptors the wrong way. They're trying to eat me! First it was my toenails. They get their beaks on either side of my big toe nail and try to pull up with all their might. It actually felt similar to how it did one time when the nail fell off due to an injury. Yesterday, when I bent down to put food in their dish, one of them jumped up and bit my ear surprisingly hard. Makes me think of this scene and feel really grateful they're not six feet tall. Respect, chickens.
 
Sarah Elizabeth
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Heather Sharpe wrote: Makes me think of this scene and feel really grateful they're not six feet tall. Respect, chickens.



Love that scene.

Yeah, six foot chickens.  Imagine the feathers when they molted.  Imagine the poop..    

Sometimes I tell my chickens that they are little dinosaurs and they turn their heads to the side and fix me with a beady stare.

At the moment,  I think they wish they were ducks, given the rainy weather. Until this week, it had been a beautiful, dry, crisp autumn.

In fact, the tractor, with a very noisy trailer, had been bailing hay right next to them in the field.  I thought they might be nervous as they had not experienced this before but they did not bat an eyelid.

We also had F35s doing practice runs at low altitude directly overhead and again, nothing.  They took it in their stride.

They were, however, scared of a large cabbage..

 
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I have a lot of buff orphingtons.  5 teens/adults (no eggs yet), and 16 new chicks at about 2 weeks, bought mixed.  To get a rooster or more.  They Mchatta hachery gave a surprise Americana rooster chick #16?  It is hard to me to id chickens when they run around.   On idea one person had, was use food color? on there heads then maybe id individuals?  They are dual use meat birds.  They eat more than layers too.

 
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I saw this on Pinterest and wanted to share though it is more cute than weird.


source
 
Sarah Elizabeth
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Anne Miller wrote:I saw this on Pinterest and wanted to share though it is more cute than weird.



Cute? Weird?  It's such a fine line.  Why not both? She looks like a chicken who knows her own mind. What a sweetie.

My chickens are into eating weird things at the moment.  For example, I let them free-range when I am outside (because the foxes would get them if I left them on their own)  and they are really into finding and eating cobwebs. I thought they were after the bugs in the webs but they are going for the clean cobwebs around old doors and windows too.

Housekeeping chickens.  What's not to like..

 
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My husband does boat repair work at our house as one of his jobs.  A couple years ago, I came home one day as he was working on a motor. Cat on motor, dog under boat and a row of chickens perched on the boat railing. Only wish I could have gotten a picture. Lots of supervisors for his work!

Each year, the young birds are terrified of the sound of motors.  By about 3 months old, they won’t even twitch and will hang out under his feet while he works.
 
Carla Burke
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I put up a swing for our chickens, almost identical to that one. Sometimes they use it, and it's hilarious, lol. But, they'd rather be free-ranging.
 
Heather Sharpe
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The first of our chickens started laying a couple days ago, but we had yet to hear her sing the egg song. We weren't home when she laid the first one. The second and third, I found under the roost, one of them buried in leaves. This morning, I heard the egg song quite clearly. It even sounded like another chicken had joined her in singing, even though none of them have started laying yet. When I went outside to check on them and let them out into the run, no sign of an egg anywhere. Not in the nest box, not under the roost. I dug through all the bedding as best I could, since I really didn't want it going bad in there or being stepped on and broken. Nothing. So either she's really, really good at hiding eggs now or was faking us out? Very curious.

I think the other hens are confused by her hanging out in the nest box. Several of them stuck their heads in and looked at her all puzzled while she was in there.
 
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Heather Sharpe wrote:The first of our chickens started laying a couple days ago, but we had yet to hear her sing the egg song. We weren't home when she laid the first one. The second and third, I found under the roost, one of them buried in leaves. This morning, I heard the egg song quite clearly. It even sounded like another chicken had joined her in singing, even though none of them have started laying yet. When I went outside to check on them and let them out into the run, no sign of an egg anywhere. Not in the nest box, not under the roost. I dug through all the bedding as best I could, since I really didn't want it going bad in there or being stepped on and broken. Nothing. So either she's really, really good at hiding eggs now or was faking us out? Very curious.

I think the other hens are confused by her hanging out in the nest box. Several of them stuck their heads in and looked at her all puzzled while she was in there.



With mine, the "egg song" seems to happen about an hour before or after they actually lay. They're quiet during the laying itself.
 
Sarah Elizabeth
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Ellendra Nauriel wrote:
With mine, the "egg song" seems to happen about an hour before or after they actually lay. They're quiet during the laying itself.



Oh that's interesting.

Like Heather's chickens, mine have just started laying. I hear the egg song in the morning but don't always get any eggs until later in the day.  

One of my chickens, called Buffy, has some dark brown freckles in her feathers and guess what - she lays eggs with dark brown freckles on them.  Cute.
 
Heather Sharpe
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Ellendra Nauriel wrote:With mine, the "egg song" seems to happen about an hour before or after they actually lay. They're quiet during the laying itself.


This is good to know, Ellendra. Thanks!

Never did find an egg yesterday, but found another under the roost today. Almost seems like she may be laying them from up there. They tend to be under the spot she usually sleeps. Funny, since when she laid the first one, she was very loudly letting me know she needed a proper place to lay her egg and calmed down once she had access to a nest box.
 
Michael Moreken
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the 5 buffs are now in there own cage.  They love dandelions.  I stuck out the 15 buffs 2 months? + 1 americana 'surprise in the dog cage 8x8 foot.  They gobble up the medicated food fast.  Wondering if I should buy another 50# sack of it?  Occasionally the chickens escape (not to much lately) they stick close to there cage.  Kinda funny me chasing bigger chickens around the cage.  The younger ones escaped too but so far is very easy to recollect them.  They get excited when I bring food out.  They polish it off in 5 min.  Maybe I run out at night as they bask in heat lamp.  Feeding them this way will disrupt this settling in.   They were standing in vicinity of heat lamp.  So fed them in dark (outside light comes on).

Find either 3 or 4 big birds hanging out on the perch, rest are in nesting area.

Maybe I'll take a photo at night.  Of the bigger ladies birds.  I took the photos.  But technology....
 
Heather Sharpe
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My two teenage roosters have their own section within the run. We didn't plan on roosters, but hatchery mistakes happen. The boys are separated since we only have six hens and I worry they would stress them. Needless to say, they're a little pent up. We had been joking that it would be really convenient if they could just be into each other instead of the girls. Well, I guess they're considering it as opposed to celibacy. My partner was hanging out with them today in the run. One rooster tried to mount his boot and while he was doing that, the second rooster decided it was a great time to mount the first rooster.
In their defense, this probably isn't "weird", given that they're probably going crazy with hormones. It was very comical. Though it also makes me feel sorry for them. Can't have them stressing or hurting the ladies though.
 
Sarah Elizabeth
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Heather Sharpe wrote:One rooster tried to mount his boot and while he was doing that, the second rooster decided it was a great time to mount the first rooster. In their defense, this probably isn't "weird", given that they're probably going crazy with hormones. It was very comical.



This story definitely qualifies for this thread.  That's a lot of pent up energy.    

Our birds are about the same age - seven months.  I have four hens and a rooster.  There were five but sadly one got eaten by a fox.  My rooster was the only male from the incubator hatched eggs. I was not sure if he would be too much for the girls but it has turned out OK. Initially he had no finesse whatsoever and the girls struggled to get away from him. They did not seem traumatised, just indignant.  In fact, all of them found it more traumatising when the other hen was taken by the fox.

The hens reaction to him turned out to be a part of his education because he learned to make more of an effort. Now he sidles up to them and does a little dance with his wing down and they are much more receptive.  He also brings them lots of treats.  Weirdly (or cleverly) he knows that they love crushed egg shell and when he finds some he calls them over.  He is very protective and ushers them into the coop when it hails. Three of the hens really appreciate him and one, the independent one, is indifferent but tolerant. I am getting plenty of fertilised eggs so he is being successful.    
 
Heather Sharpe
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Today, I heard one of my hens making a distressed sound and ran over to check on her. I thought perhaps one of the other hens was picking on her, but that wasn't the case. She was walking around and continuing to make the sound. This went on a few moments longer. Then an egg fell on the ground and she went back to her usual chickening. This explains why I've found every single one of her eggs in that same spot by the waterer. I guess she's just too busy foraging to even lay down, let alone go into the coop to lay her eggs!

It also seems my hens sing the egg song whenever they feel like it. The correlation between hearing it and finding an egg is almost zero. Unless I hear the egg song AND then the roosters crow. Then there usually is one. Though once, one of the roos started a chorus of the egg song and there was no egg then either. They almost never sing it when they've actually laid an egg.
 
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This is more a case of the weather than the chickens:
We've had unusually cold weather than normal here - coldest since 1987 I recall, and we didn't live here then.
All of a sudden, "chicken balls" has a new meaning - the poop under their perches froze as balls just overnight! I'm sure some of you cold climate people have seen that, but it was totally new to me.
Hopefully it will warm up by the weekend, but more snow is predicted tonight. Our chickens do *not* like snow - they told me so - *very* clearly!
 
Heather Sharpe
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Today, this happened. I'm not really sure how she managed to get the egg balanced there so perfectly. Or why she laid an egg there. Confusing and impressive all at once. Pretty miraculous no one knocked it down.
20220114_154759.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20220114_154759.jpg]
 
Heather Sharpe
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I think my chickens are coping with winter by getting creative with their weird behavior. The other day, I was holding one of the roosters and his favorite hen decided it was the perfect chance to turn the tables and jump onto his back!

Meanwhile, the Faverolles are hard at work on mastering egg forgery. It used to be that I could always tell their eggs apart by slight differences in their shape, color and size. Farah has the lightest colored eggs, almost white. This made them easy to spot. But now someone else is laying eggs of a similar color and the shape has changed to be closer to that of the other hens...Sneaky chickens.

One of the hens, Celeste, has figured out she can get to the treats faster if she knocks the container down. The other day, she saw me with it, jumped up at it and hooked her beak and neck over the rim, spilling the grubs everywhere. Now she's upped her jumping ability and just leaps directly onto the container so she can have them to herself.

It was super cold and snowy yesterday, so I was holding one of the hens to help her warm up a bit. Between that and being super bundled up, I couldn't really see my feet or the ground very well. All the sudden, I felt the drawstring of my outer pants layer loosen and the pants start to slide. If my partner hadn't been there to see it, I wouldn't have known who it was that nearly succeeded in depantsing me! Celeste had jumped up and pulled the drawstring. Luckily, I had on another layer underneath those pants that kept them from falling all the way down. Lesson learned, always tuck drawstrings around chickens.
 
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I set a live racoon trap behind one of the shelters because my neighbor thought that's what was digging there (I'm not convinced, but it was worth a try.) So the second day, Blizzard, my youngest pullet, got herself caught. Her mom *saw* this, but mom's not the sharpest pencil in the box and clearly has short-term memory issues because a week later, she got caught in the trap. Only she laid an egg in there... seriously??? My arm is not long enough to reach the back of the trap, and it's not the type that opens at the back. So here I'm trying to gently tip and roll the trap to try to get the egg past the trigger plate without it breaking.

I did manage, but the whole time I'm thinking - couldn't she have laid it at the front?

I've started leaving the trap closed, but then at duckie bedtime, I forget to open it again. I think I'll give up on coon trapping!
 
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My friend showed me a video, in his yard, of a game hen crowing. Some of the other notions, of males sitting on eggs, gives me thoughts of hermaphroditism.
 
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Jay Angler wrote: My arm is not long enough to reach the back of the trap, and it's not the type that opens at the back. So here I'm trying to gently tip and roll the trap to try to get the egg past the trigger plate without it breaking.

I did manage, but the whole time I'm thinking - couldn't she have laid it at the front?




I use long-handled egg tongs for eggs that are just a little out of reach. And a spaghetti-server bolted to the end of a rake handle to get the ones that are way out of reach. Those two tools have cut down on the need for contortionism when caring for my flock :)
 
Sarah Elizabeth
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So yesterday evening I went to close up the chickens as usual and had a wait a few minutes for them all to go inside.

Just as I lowered the hatch,  I heard a screech and Bosco, my cockerel, hurled himself at the door so hard I let go and jumped back in shock.

When I opened the door to see what was going on, he rushed out and basically told me off in no uncertain terms. Then he went round the side of the outside shelter and gently rounded up Buffy, my sweetest hen, who I did not realise was still outside.   The tenderness he showed her was a marvel to behold.  He then went inside and called her in as he does every night with all four chickens.  

The strength of the bond he has with the hens and the intelligence he shows in looking after them continues to amaze me. He can be a very challenging with me, a human, but he has my respect and I totally trust him with the lives of the hens.    
 
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Sarah Elizabeth wrote:

The strength of the bond he has with the hens and the intelligence he shows in looking after them continues to amaze me. He can be a very challenging with me, a human, but he has my respect and I totally trust him with the lives of the hens.    



I think I'm in love with your rooster.
 
And now I present magical permaculture hypno cards. The idea is to give them to people that think all your permaculture babble is crazy talk. And be amazed as they apologize for the past derision, and beg you for your permaculture wisdom. If only there were some sort of consumer based event coming where you could have an excuse to slip them a deck ... richsoil.com/cards
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