Trying to get a picture of all four of the chickens together is kind of like wrangling kids to sit still and smile for a holiday photo. That’s Mabel’s tail feathers in the back left there, and that’s all she’s going to show you today! Yes, we’re back down to four chickens, as we lost Nuggets a couple of months ago to unknown causes. She was three years old, and still laying well, but…
Nuggets’ loss necessitated a reshuffling of the pecking order, since she was definitely the alpha hen in the coop. Red (on the right) has now taken over that position, and she and Mabel have formed a loose alliance against the younger Leghorns. You see where the term pecking order literally came from while watching the chickens, who aren’t shy in establishing their dominance over the others.
Foghorn and Mrs. Cheepers here, while at the bottom of the pecking order, are pretty sure they are photogenic. You may have been dreaming of a white Christmas, but they’ve been dreaming of a day mild enough to melt the snow so they can peck around outside to their heart’s content. They pretty much stay inside the coop and don’t like to come out in the run in the snow, but today they’re enjoying some scratch, the end of a bag of broccoli that got pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten about, and whatever they can scratch up from the dirt on this unseasonably warm December day.
(I’m mad about the broccoli, but glad it went to a good cause — It’s better that our scraps and forgotten leftovers go to the chickens, because there they get recycled into delicious eggs for us. 😉 )
Hopefully the warmer weather and a chance to stretch their legs and peck around will help with egg production this week, since it’s been down (as usual) during the winter. Mabel, for instance, is on strike entirely — but she declined to lay last winter as well, so we’re expecting her to pick back up this spring. The others are still laying, just not as frequently as in the summer and fall.
Questions about backyard chickens?
MashupDad is the primary chicken caretaker and expert in the family, since this was his project originally. Read his roundup of the initial backyard chicken challenge here, which outlines how he built the coop and run, the costs involved, etc. If you’re thinking about backyard chickens this spring, comment with your questions here and I’ll have him answer in a future post!