The Great Escape

We had a slow start today and decided to pop down to the allotment at lunchtime. Just before we left, I popped in to check on the chicks. To my horror, I found a chick on top of the netting we had put on the top of their coop to stop them getting out. I could also hear panicked cheeping coming from underneath it. I yelled to my husband and between us we got the offending bird back into the enclosure whilst repeatedly counting the chicks to make sure no one else had escaped! Clearly their enclosure is far too small to contain them anymore. Leaving my husband to make sure they didn’t escape again, I grabbed the pet carrier and prepared it. This was it. To the allotment they must go!

Swiftly and efficiently, my husband got them into the carrier whilst I grabbed their food and water bowls as well as the bag of chick crumb. The cats looked curiously at us but they still remain terrified of the small fluffy things so ran away into another room to hide. It was rather windy outside today which definitely dropped the temperature down. As we arrived on site, we were greeted by the news that Steve had brought his first batch of White Legbar chicks down today too. I showed our carrier to Cliff, our resident chicken expert and vet, who declared them healthy and beautiful.

Now for the tricky part. My husband let Leia and Rey into their outdoor coop whilst I cleared the greenhouse out briefly. Due to the chicks being so small, the older birds would attack them and could possibly kill them. Hence today also marked the day that Leia and Rey had to move into the main coop. I opened the carrier door and the chicks slowly came out. This is the biggest space they have ever been in and it must be intimidating. Especially as there was a crowd of spectators oggling through the glass.

Next we fed the girls in the main coop. They were busy scratching and we managed to collect two eggs. Still a poor showing from eight birds, but still better than the last few months where we have had nothing! It took several minutes to get hold of Rey and Leia – Leia in particular was very unimpressed with being held – and we walked them down to the main coop. In order to give them some space, we placed them on the top of the nest box with their food and water bowl. It’s important when trying to integrate new birds that you have multiple food and water containers so that the new birds can still feed. We stood in there for half an hour and there were some scuffles. Millie especially has taken extreme offense to Leia, another gorgeous and massive chicken. Rey seemed to get off lightly but that may be due to her small size and speed. Most of our flock are quite elderly and are no longer as nimble as they used to be.

After breaking up several more scuffles, we left to feed Dolly. Today she had several half eaten grass stuck in her beak which I removed. All the usual feeding regime followed and although she isn’t better by a long shot, she seems to be stable. It’s not good for a chicken to be on their own but for Dolly it’s important as it means she doesn’t get picked on by anyone. I’m still not sure whether her beak is fractured because there is a sharp, hard bit which she strongly objects to me touching that seems different from the gunk.

Before we left, we discovered Leia cowering under the nest box in the main coop. Determined to protect her, we moved her up onto the top of the nest box and gave her some treats. She has never been in with so many chickens and she clearly has no idea what is going on. As we left, she was sitting disgruntled on the top, glaring at us. We will pop down later to check on how WWIII is going!

As we were passing the greenhouse, we stopped to have a cuddle with the chicks. Who can resist such cuteness?


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