A Bad Mistake or Not?

Everyone makes mistakes, right?  Of course, we do, but I can’t believe I did this one. I should know WAY better…so after trying to be very positive about my little farm life, I’m going to rant a little…just a little…

DiningMr. Knightly and his girls dining in my flower beds.

I have one handsome Black French Marans rooster who I have to watch behind my back all the time, so he doesn’t attack me. And then I have 4 lovely Marans hens all of whom I raised from chicks. There were actually 13 to begin with …4 died when they were small… 3 were roosters that we butchered…and one rooster Copper was killed trying to save the flock from a predator. So I have 5 left. Then I  have 3 older hens…2 Wellsummers and one Cuckoo Marans named Mara.

When Copper the rooster was killed by what we thought was a coyote, the other hens were understandably shocked and did not lay any eggs for a while. One of the young hens became broody…we cured her of that and she is laying again. So now when everything should be back to normal, it isn’t. I am getting one, maybe two eggs a day.

My son works for a guy who has hundreds of hens and they lay tons of eggs and he was coming home for a few days. I frustratingly and impatiently thought, “Why not just buy 6 of his hens and at least we would have some eggs.” Sounds reasonable, right? So I called my son and he very sweetly said he could do that.

Now I had to work out where to put them. I know they would have to be separated from the other hens for a bit, so I decided to transfer my new little Ameracauna chicks to a little dog house temporarily and put the new adult hens in the chick coop.

Here is their temporary shelter and I think they are pretty happy in there…

coop

Now comes the rant…my son pulls up with the cage in the back of his truck covered by a big blue tarp. I know a journey of an hour and a half was probably rough on the hens, but I was pretty shocked when I saw them. In my ignorance I just did not ever imagine hens being in this kind of condition. I found out that they basically live in the wild, roost in the trees, lay their eggs anywhere…they were dirty, thin, dull and a couple of them had quite a few feathers missing. We put them in the coop along with water and food, and left them for a bit to settle in.

My nightmares started…I felt like I had been punched in the stomach…I thought of lice and diseases that these birds could bring to my flock. Going back down to the chicken coops to close them up for the night, I sat and watched the new hens…

They looked wild like the turkeys that come through our property sometimes. Their necks were thin and stretched out, and then they started flying up to the top of the coop to roost, like they are used to, I assumed, when they fly up into the trees. They stunk. They were so dirty.  I cried…All I could think is that I had made a huge mistake…

I cried myself to sleep that night wondering what I was going to do and trying to reason with myself not to make mountains out of molehills. But even if I got rid of the birds, I would have to totally clean and disinfect the coop to transfer the chicks back in it, which I just did not to long ago, and I was not looking forward to that, at least not so soon…

I got up at 4 in the morning and started looking on the internet about introducing new birds to your flock and I was even more horrified with what I read. I could not get rid of the anxious gnawing in my stomach and I wished that this did not involve the other members of my family.

In the morning I prayed and gathered myself together and went down to the coop with a more positive attitude. I went in the coop to get the waterer to refill it, and the hens were freaking out and I freaked out and started crying again…Am I just nuts?

My son said I remind him of the wife on Green Acres…

Anim_HomepageImage from Mark Maggiore

I don’t think so…

I haven’t seen that series in a long time and I might just have to go take a look and get some laughs out of this whole fiasco…

Anyway, after our Bible time that morning I asked my very sensible level headed daughter to come down to the coop and see what she thought and to tell me if I was just crazy. Well, wouldn’t you know it, the hens were just as sweet and docile as they could be…I mean they still looked scruffy, but at least they weren’t flying off the walls of the coop. She encouraged me that it would be OK and just to wait and see how it went.

Later in the day my son handed me 3 eggs from those new hens and then my husband found 2 more that evening….

full tray

By the way…I did find 5 Marans eggs in a nest behind the barn …the 2 broody hens that are taking up the nests in the big coop must chase all the other hens away…

So was it a mistake? or not?

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15 thoughts on “A Bad Mistake or Not?

  1. Oh my!! First I am glad to hear your original hens are laying! Second, always quarantine new birds. Third, you are doing a great job. Chickens are chickens and though we want them to provide our families with food thru eggs and meat and cheap entertainment, they are still chickens. Great post and keep on keepin on. Just like a roller coaster, waves in the ocean and life, the highs will be wonderful and you will get thru the lows. Hoping the rooster will remain nice. Otherwise, the stock pot is calling 🙂

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    • You are so encouraging! Thanks so much for all the pep talks. Honestly, the other day when you posted about your hens not laying as much, I really felt so much better…then I got myself into this mess…

      So how long do you quarantine? One guy said a month…

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      • I have never had to quarantine chickens, yet, but I would say a month too. Just to be safe. Another blogger lost all his rabbits bc he didn’t quarantine. I would check the birds for bugs, mites, too. And anytime you need some encouragement; I am here!!! 🙂 I am sure the new birds will be fine, but better safe than sorry! And the babies, they will be such a great addition once they are of age!

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  2. Give it time. It can be hard both for you and the hens to get used to new situations. But remember, that everything starts off being a new experience, and slowly but surely, you and the hens will find your feet and settle. 🙂

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  3. I really think they will settle in from their wild ways if given time. Our cow (yes I realize cows are different from chickens), came to us pretty wild and not friendly or tame. I was shocked at how quickly she came around, and now a year later she is a big teddy bear. With chickens, since they have eachother, it will probably be a less drastic change. But I bet if you spend extra time around them they will become less wild over time. As far as the diseases go, it is amazing what good health and clean living conditions can do for a chicken. I would give them a dust bathing spot with DE to start working on potential parasites right away. By next spring you wont even recognize them! They will be healthy and beautiful like your other birds.

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  4. We have all brought birds to our farm on a whim and regretted it a minute later, My only concern is that your new birds are completely away from the existing flock. Even wearing the same shoes from one area to another can infect your healthy birds.

    About laying, or lack of… it’s more probably that your existing hens are laying in a new place.

    Look on the bright side friend, you have given those tattered feathered smelly hens a MUCH better life. Soon they will be beautiful and become a part of the family just like the others. You did a good thing, don’t beat yourself up over it!

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    • Fortunately, I have them in a place that is fenced off from the rest of the hens, but unfortunately I have to walk in the area where the original flock is to get in and out. I am trying my best to keep everything separate and clean, especially for the little Ameraucana chicks, but what will be will be…

      The little chicks are pretty far away from the coop that the new hens are in….over the creek and through the woods… 🙂

      Thanks for giving me the bright side. You’ve made my day!!!

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