I didn’t really write a lot about our pet chickens in the past three years. They’ve deserved more space on this blog, however.
There has been a major change, and thus the update.
We got three chickens in October 2008. They are wonderful pets, very useful, too. It was fun playing with them when they were tiny, very exciting when they laid first eggs and made great companions while gardening.
Sunflower, the boss, was sick several times, but pulled through. Singapore, the black one, and Princess (last in the pecking order) were always healthy. About this time last year, Sunflower stopped laying after a few months of a steady decline. The other two were still laying pretty regularly. At that time, I thought it was her age, and was happy to keep her. She has deserved a decent retirement.
After stopping with the laying, Sunflower was looking the most beautiful of the three. Singapore and Princess had moulted and compared to Sunflower, they looked like the poor stepsisters. Still, everything was fine in our backyard. Till one very early summer morning. We were woken up by a terrible noise coming from the chicken coop. The first thought was something has attacked our chickens! I ran out only to find that they are fighting each other. To be precise, Sunflower and Princess were attacking Singapore. I had to rescue the poor thing.
In the days (and months) to come, we tried everything to solve the problem. The noise was unbearable some mornings. We (and our neighbours) were at our wits’ end. Each time we tried to get them together, the same thing happened. Singapore slept in at the time empty compost bin. She was so distressed, she stopped laying altogether, but started again after being separated for about a month. We couldn’t figure out what is the cause to all this.
Sunflower not feeling well
It was end of March when we noticed that Sunflower isn’t feeling herself. We were still trying to get the girls together occasionally, but she wasn’t up to any attacks anymore (Princess still was!). She was losing on weight. Her health deteriorated slowly but surely. Mid April she hardly walked. I had to feed her and give her water. We could see that her end is near and prepared the kids for what’s coming. Sunflower died on Easter Monday. It was sad, especially for the kids, but it’s a normal part of life and they have witnessed the whole life cycle. She is buried in our garden.
The attacks continue…
Being left with two chickens, we were hoping they would get along better. It was a long process of gradual supervised socialization, which worked some times, but sometimes was not. For a few days it would be peace, but we never knew when would we need to jump at 6 am to separate them.
As the reconciliation didn’t quite work and we couldn’t figure out what has poor Singapore done to deserve this treatment, we needed plan B. Plan A was to keep our city chickens well into their old age. The only acceptable option was to find them a new home. After a few months of searching, a friend offered to take them to the family farm.
The tree change…
When the day came for their move, I packed our two chickens in cardboard boxes with some soft hay and plenty of food for their one hour drive. The kids said goodbye to them earlier and I tried to sneak them out. But when our daughter spotted me, she broke into tears that lasted…long. Another life’s lesson. It took a while to get used to the empty coop.
Our chickens arrived safe and sound to their new home. Both integrated well into the flock and have been introduced to a rooster for the first time. They love to spend the day in the paddock with the cows and have adapted well to the country life. We are sure they are happy there.
We still miss them. We miss the fresh eggs, their jumping on the window sill to watch us at breakfast, polishing all the fruit and veggie scraps and the compost with extra manure boost. Whenever I throw their favourite food into the compost like watermelon rinds, tomato seeds, corn cobs etc, I wish they are closer so I can take it to them.
For now, there are no plans to have new chicks due to plans in the near future. Although we had all this trouble, we would love to keep chickens again as they are truly wonderful pets.
A few photos…
In the broccoli “forest”… The first egg…
On the window sill 1.5 meter high… Taking a dust bath…