Sunday, July 25, 2010

Living Free


 One of our laying hens, after violent disagreements with the rooster, was being picked on by him and, alas, by the other hens to the point that we felt they would kill her. (Chickens can be as clique-ish and brutal as high school girls.)

So we turned her out to see how she'd do, figuring that she could live free for a while at least. Our dogs have ignored her and she's been happily on her own for  week now, exploring the garden and beyond. When John goes to feed the other chickens, she runs and waits just outside the coop door for her scratch feed.

 She's having a great time pecking around in the garden and the shrubbery. And I like to think that the chickens who were so mean to  her are a bit envious.
 
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23 comments:

Jon Lee said...

I have been reading several blogs now that talk about chickens. I didn't realize they had so much personality and liked to scratch around in gardens. My mother's family had chickens when she was growing up. My husband wants to get chickens when he retires and buys his farm. Your chicken is very pretty. I hope she does o.k.

Martin H. said...

She has to have a name. When I was small, the family dog grabbed one of our chicks by the neck and nearly killed it. The chick survived, but grew no feathers on her neck. She looked like a vulture - we named her 'Jeepers'.

joanny said...

What a sweetie...a lovely hen, glad the dogs are not picking on her. Where does she go at night? My friend lets her to range free in her garden till dusk and in the coop they go. she doesn't have dogs, but a hawk came and swooped one up the other day....feathers every where. I image your dogs protects her.

Bernie said...

Vicki have you had this hen a long time.....so many are raising chickens at home now. I thought it was just a fad but perhaps I am wrong. (I am sure the others would be jealous) and I am glad you let her free and not around those who picked on her.
Your garden is lovely my friend,
.......:-) Hugs

jennyfreckles said...

Sad story with a happy ending. You will be finding eggs all over the garden now!

Pat in east TN said...

I had to laugh at you saying, "chickens can be as clique-ish and brutal as high school girls" ... how true and what a perfect way to put it!

I'm glad your girl is happy and was wondering, like joanny, where ms. hen goes at night. Around here a fox or hawk would have snatched her up immediately.

Brian Miller said...

beautiful collage...and i like to think that is justice with the chicken...smiles.

Vicki Lane said...

Jon Lee -- they do have a lot of personality, not always nice.

Martin -- we haven't named her -- it seems like tempting fate.

Joanny -- I don't know where she roosts. Possibly in the barn; possibly in a tree. There are lots of possibilities.

Bernie -- We've had this chicken about three years. But we've had chickens for about 38 years. Not a fad here.

Pat -- it's a dangerous world for a chicken -- but the alternative was a small coop by herself or this -- possibly a short life but a happy one. Much better to be taken by a fox than be slowly pecked to death by your sisters. At least that's how we saw it.

We may try reintroducing her to the flock or putting her in with Justin's banties. Though, in the way of things, she'd probably pick on them. Ah, life!

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

Wonderful that you gave your hen a life of freedom and safe from the others. Did not know that chickens could be so ruthless. I guess within most animals we find this behavior. -- barbara

Elora said...

The hen's plight is one reason I quit keeping those mean old roosters! I had one Buff Orpinton rooster that thought I belonged in his flock and would chase me the same way he chased his hens. I would go into the chicken yard with a 2 X 4, ready to defend myself. I simply hated that thing. He would come flying right at me. I've since learned that it's not rare to have a mean rooster! We finally had him for dinner and have never had a rooster since. The really bad thing about their jumping the hens is they tear away feathers on the hen's back and neck leaving the wound open to screw worms which will eventually kill her. We lost a hen who had continuous open sores from all that "lovemaking." The rooster literally loved her to death! You made a great choice, Vicki, and if you don't clip her wings, she'll probably find a spot she can fly up on for evening roosting.

Elora

willow said...

Aww. Poor thing deserves to live free. Love the symbolism. Lovely pics.

Merisi said...

That little roamer looks perfectly happy in your beautiful garden! Are you putting her somewhere safe overnight?

I read on someone blog (at Lorenzo's, I think, some time ago) about chickens running freeling about garden and house! I wonder if they were wearing diapers. ;-)

Deanna said...

I'll bet those other chickens ARE envious! I hope she struts back and forth in front of them.

pat said...

beautiful collage with her in the center!

NCmountainwoman said...

I do hope the other biddies and the cock of the walk are green with envy. Loved the photographs.

Vicki Lane said...

Barbara -- that's where the term 'pecking order' came from. Once a chicken is declared an outcast, she is ruthlessly attacked. And once she has a wound -- it's not pretty.

Elora -- our rooster isn't a problem except for with this one hen. And I like the potential of hatchable eggs. We never clip our chickens' wing feathers -- I'm pretty sure she roots in a nearby tree.

No chickens on the porch for me -- and more than one running free would do serious damage in the garden.

She does strut a bit! She's certainly not trying to get back in the chicken yard.

June said...

You've hit on a great solution to the problem of the poor hen's ostracism by her fellows. As you say, better a short happy life than a long and miserable one. She's having a great time, and if a fox finds her . . . well, that's how it's meant to be, after all, isn't it?
Painful for us, far less so for those immediately involved, I think.

Vagabonde said...

It’s nice that you have enough land to let her be free. We had chickens but they were in a little coop. If they had been free they would have be squashed into a stew by all the traffic on our road. We enjoyed our chickens when our girls were growing up though. Your hen is good looking and your collage very pretty.

Callie said...

We used to have chickens that would fly up to roost at night in the pine trees.

Tammy said...

Ain't that the truth about chickens! Once one becomes a pariah there doesn't seem to be allot that will change things. Having my chickens free roam (in the day) helps as those that are not favored can at least have room to get away--back when they were penned though, it could get gruesome at times. I have one old hen (Sue) that the rooster (also old) hated years back. She finally got so beat down and crippled that I brought her into the yard and let her live with Eddie the crippled rooster. Well, after three or four years, Eddie died, so Ms. Sue had to go back out to the other chickens. She has done pretty good, but the rooster STILL hates her guts and attacks her from time to time. Fortunately the other (elderly) hens accept her. I guess age has mellowed some of them. Around here a loose chicken wouldn't last a night because of the coons and possums, but my Grandma had chickens roost all over the place in the trees when I was a kid and somehow most of them survived...Enjoy yourself little hen--seize the moment and strut your stuff! ;-)
Tammy

Victoria said...

I hope that little hen has a long and happy life, and makes the rooster and hens that were so mean to her envious of her freedom every day of their lives!

Tipper said...

Well I guess that'll teach those meanies : )

amothersheartinwords said...

Brutal, YES!

Completely fascinating and addicting, YES, also!

Really enjoyed stumbling across your blog.

http://farmhousewife.blogspot.com