These are the Original Recipe Heedley’s Hens, my first peeps, the grand experiment. In April of ’11, I brought home twelve day olds: three Buff Orpingtons, three Plymouth Barred Rocks, three Light Brahmas, and three Production Reds.
They were brooded in our lodge, in a large cardboard box inside a Great Dane dog crate, on accounta the cats:
Lucius Malfoy paced around the crate for 24 hours, non-stop, before he figured out that chicken poppers were not in his near future.
Brooding the chicks in the house had many advantages: I could easily keep an eye on them, keeping them warm was not a challenge, and they had frequent interaction with me, in the indoor “run”, made of a 4′ x 8′ piece of cardboard:
The chicks were very well socialised, and easy to manage as hens, but the lodge was a disaster. The day the chicks moved out, I gave it a full Silkwood Shower.
The Man built a fantastic coop, and we were relieved to move them outside:
It goes without saying that the coop is no longer this pristine…
…but the girls seems to like it.
Of the original twelve chicks, we now, at November 2012, have nine. One of our Productions Red chicks, Ruby, turned out to be a Rudy, in pretty short order:
Yowsa. Look at that comb.
For a variety of reasons, not the least of which that I get squicky at the thought of consuming chick zygote, Rudy/Jack was rehomed locally. He was a very good boy:
…and it was hard to see him go.
We consoled ourselves that he was just down the street, and eminently visitable. We were considerably less consoled when we learned he had been killed by a fox, defending his new ladies, before he even reached maturity. RIP, Jack.
We had our first loss on the property one month later, after Hurricane Irene. Starved, soggy, displaced foxes took Angelina, just as she was at point of lay:
I found the rest of the flock huddled around the lilac tree, behaving very strangely, and then, a trail of blond feathers leading into Fox Woods. Further inspection revealed unused fox holes in the wood, which have since been filled with rocks and a huge dumping of Great Dane poo, which is really the only kind of dumping of Great Dane poo there is. Since then (knock on wood), no foxes. Fresh poo is applied, regularly.
The very next day, September 1, 2011, we had our first first egg, courtesy of Miss Alexia, also my first squatter:
Feelings were mixed, needless to say.
The girls provide us with eggs, entertainment, and lots of good stories. There has been tragedy, of course, like the dog attack of February 2012 when Buffy was mauled, and nearly killed. And then, we lost Pip, our biggest girl, a Light Brahma who loved to be cuddled. She passed violently on a very hot day this summer, either from a laying complication or from the heat, or both.
She is missed, but not forgotten.
Which leaves nine, of the original twelve. They are 1.0, the originals, the big girls, the bosses. They are a pain in my ass and the loves of my life.