Our young hens are coming of age

Raising chickens is like parenting. Each child is different, and what worked with one does not work at all with another.

Our youngest flock of layers is wild. I have never had a group of birds like this in my life. Our hens are usually quite tame and mellow. They might fuss a little if my four-year-old moves too quickly, but they’re generally quite content to be around people and will amble up to peck my boots or overalls to check if they might be tasty. Their calm clucks and squawks are soothing and familiar.

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These young guys literally fly into a panic when I step into their coop. I have to move to the side and stand their very still as they all make their way to the exit with many squawks and flaps.

I think this is because the majority of the flock is made up of two flightly breeds: Black Australorpes and Brown Leghorns. Still, like I would do as a mother, I wonder, “What have I done wrong? We’ve been gentle with them. We’ve been with them every day. None of our other birds have acted this way!” I’ve been a mom for long enough now that I can confidently tell myself, “You have not caused them to be like this. It is just the way they are. Try to work with it.”12391010_1026273060760042_2947145310497888715_n

Just this week, our wild flock has begun laying just a handful eggs every day. If they were young ladies, they might have a special party, but I don’t think these birds would appreciate that. What they want most from me is my absence. So I will mark this occasion online and invite you to celebrate with me very quietly, away from those hens.

Still, I thought a picture would be appropriate. The other day, I noticed a group of them gathered sweetly around one of our evergreens, so I stepped out to snap a celebratory picture of them, marking this important time in their lives. With any other chickens, this would have been fine. With these guys, it was not. As I neared the full evergreen, they all fled to the far side of it. I walked around the tree, and they started pouring across the field toward their coop. I started snapping pictures, but they were not what I hoped for. Instead, I ended up videotaping them as they all fled from me up. (That’s the video that’s included in this post.)

After a couple days, I tried again, opening their door slowly in the morning and quickly snapping photos. They eyed me suspiciously but let me take their pictures, which are also included in this post.

They are lovely, and I wish them vigorous and happy laying in the seasons to come. I hope they’ll mellow with age.

 

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