Protecting the Flock

I’ve been worried about the hens ever since we saw the hawk fly by, and the other night I could barely sleep thinking about them, and wondering  how I was going to protect them from the terrifying clutches of the high circling sharp-eyed hawk diving down  and devouring one of them for his dinner.

Also, their food…I do not want to feed them GMO feed, but I won’t be able to order organic feed from Azure Standard Coop for another week or so…so what to do in the meantime? My research so far, gathered in the wee hours of the night, is posted on my page Organic Chicken Feed. My conclusion is that the very best for chickens is to free-range and that means all day forage with a little supplemental organic grain.

But in order to forage they need access to our pastures and there is just no way to keep them protected  that way. So my idea is to gradually get them savvy  to the outside world and strong enough and smart enough to hide from the hawks. So for now we have…

The netting…pretty lame, but from what I understand a hawk is smart and won’t want to get entangled in this as he makes his escape…

The owl…this dear old friend is very old…ancient really…will he be convincing? I don’t know, but we brought him down from the back pasture where he has been standing guard for years and now he will be retiring to an easier job of standing sentinel over the chicken run.

The first I admit I was opposed to this. I really don’t want trashy looking stuff hanging in my trees…but actually they are quite beautiful as they twirl in the breeze and reflect the colors aronnd them and send shimmery lights bouncing off the objects around the chicken run. The hens don’t seem bothered at all by them, but I have a feeling CDs would scare away any wild thing with their dancing swirling movements.

With all these things installed we braced ourselves as the coop door was opened thinking that the hens would burst out and run around like crazy. But to my surprise none of them was very eager to emerge from their cozy little home.

The one who came out first was the smallest Welsummer who we named Hennie

She is no longer named Hennie …we renamed her Attila the Hen. (Tera’s idea) : ) This little hen is the first one out, the bravest one and as I will relate later, probably the TOP hen, the leader of the flock!

Very slowly they all came out for a little while and then went back in. It was windy out, I’ve come to think they don’t like the wind too much…

Later in the day I went back down to the coop and just sat there and watched them for a little while. I listened to the sounds they were hearing…the crows cawing high in the trees…the dog barking in  the pen next door…the cars going by on the road. While I was sitting there they all came out…Attila first, of course, just scratching away and then Hilda came out and began to dust bath right in front of the door. We named her Hilda because it rhymes with gilda , meaning golden, for her neck feathers are more golden than the others.

Hilda took a dust bath like I’ve never seen before. She dug down deep in the soil to make an adequate hole and then snuggled down into it turning her head from side to side. Lifting the dirt up with all her feathers and splashing it all around, she turned herself completely over and all the time just enjoyed it immensely, until Attila came right up to her and started pecking at her. Obviously Attila wanted a turn to luxuriate in this bath that Hilda had made. But once she got in there she wasn’t nearly as excited as Hilda was about her bath…Attila left and a few minutes later Hilda was at it again.  This time she got even more dramatic. And once again Attila began to peck her to move. This time Hilda stood her ground and didn’t budge and Attila just nestled in beside her and tried to imitate her, but she just doesn’t have whatever it is that Hilda has, as far as bathing goes anyway.

So now I’ve introduced two hens…more intros to come later…in the meantime enjoy your baths…swing with the wind and don’t peck on people…just love them…


11 thoughts on “Protecting the Flock

  1. This are the hard things to figure out when keeping chickens. Trying to give them quality of life and still protect them from predators is a real challenge. The owl is a help, but Hawks are very smart so you have to be really on your toes to fool them. I suggest you paint that owls face to make to look more real, Paint the eyes a bright yellow and attach two brown plastic grocery sacs (one on each side) to it’s body. Even the slightest breeze and the bags will move… like wings! I know it sounds stupid but it works.


    • Great idea! Thanks for your advice… I really appreciate it. I just took a look at your post on combs and one of the hens I inherited has a flopped over comb. She seems really healthy otherwise…but now I’m wondering about that comb and if I should be concerned…

      I’m going to read more on your site later when I have time. Looks like you have a lot of good experience and info…thanks for commenting. : )


  2. I think I need to verify that this is my mother posting. Somehow I never dreamed you’d be so into chickens. Makes me smile every time I think of it though. Looks like you’re doing an amazing job. Of course, THAT is no surprise! “Attila the Hen” is perfect. Really. Too cool. I’m super impressed.


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