"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Eggs in one basket

When Tweedle Dum, the ornery rooster, was returned to his original owners, he was replaced with Cluck who was still a young hen.  So young that she hadn't started laying eggs yet.

I felt sorry for her - Tweedle Dee definitely did the hen pecking and constantly chased her away from any food that was scattered on the ground in the evenings before they were locked in their coop for the night.  (To ensure that she was getting enough, I used to inveigle Cluck away to one side and throw her her own handful away from Tweedle Dee.)
Cluck took the frame coop on the right - I think
 Tweedle Dee made her life a misery when she
  joined her and the chicks in the wooden one
 at night.
The poor thing also spent the first few nights in the wooden coop with Tweedle Dee, but from the second that the chicks started roosting with Tweedle Dee, Cluck wasn't so happy, and put herself to bed - alone - in the water container frame house. I'm sure it's because Tweedle Dee was making her life a misery when they were locked up together in the wooden coop...

A couple of weeks ago, when the chicks were exactly 4 weeks old, Tweedle Dee started ignoring them.  Walking off on a constant solitary mission, it seems as though it fell to Cluck to tend the chicks.  She took to it like a duck to water - even though she is a chicken.  Rooting round under the trees and bushes with them, settling down for a midday snooze with them tucked into her sides - she was a natural.

Tweedle Dee went back to her old habit
 of laying her egg in the lucerne container
Having studiously ignored her chicks for roughly 5 - 6 days, suddenly Tweedle Dee started laying again.  We discovered the egg one afternoon when we went to give the alpacas their rations - hidden in the corner of the container on a bed of lucerne scraps.

She didn't lay them in the quaddie tyre in which she had been laying before, and where she raised her brood, but back in the lucerne container where she had first laid her eggs when she arrived on our smallholding.

I tried padding up the new nesting boxes in the wooden coop with straw instead of the wood shavings to see if she preferred that.

Nope.  Nada.  Always in the blooming lucerne container.
Can you see it hiding in the straw in the far
nesting box?  Clever Cluck laid her first egg - and
 in the nesting boxes too!  :) 
One day, after I had retrieved Tweedle Dee's morning offering, I went to change the water in the wooden coop.  What did I spy - another egg!?   I deduced that Cluck had started laying too :)

It took Tweedle Dee another 6 - 8 days before she decided that "if the nesting boxes were good enough for Cluck, then they were good enough for her too".  And, she didn't choose to lay her egg in the vacant box next door either, she is laying her egg right next to Cluck's.

Almost as though she is trying to enforce her "superiority"?
Now both Tweedle Dee and Cluck lay their eggs
in the same nesting box - right next to each other
Chickens - they're strange creatures, aren't they...?
The potential rooster...?
I guess it won't be much longer before the chicks start laying too - if there are any hens amongst them?  I have no idea how to tell the difference, but I think the one does seem to be developing a roosters comb.  Time will tell.
... and together with two of it's siblings,
  for comparison.  "He" is the one at the back.
Whatever - we are certainly egg-sufficient now :)


  1. They are strange creatures indeed, I know when we get chickens again I will be fretting about who is bullying who.

    1. Chickpea - I guess the strongest has to make sure that she / he always survives. Thankfully, we had an alternative coop for Cluck ;)

  2. Yeah I'd guess that little guy in the back is going to be a rooster. :) But I can never tell for sure until they start trying to crow.

    In our experience hens like to lay in the same nesting box. We have 8 boxes but most days they all lay in only 2 or 3 of them. I think their instinct is to lay where there are already eggs since in nature they're trying to build up clutch to brood.

    In order to encourage them to lay in the right place we put golf balls in the nesting boxes. Some folks use plastic easter eggs. The idea is for them to think there are eggs there already and they'll want to add theirs to the pile. But it looks like yours have worked it out now.

    Enjoy your eggs!

    1. Bill - LOL I tried the golf ball trick on TD (we have exactly one in stock, from where, who knows - 'cos RMan has never played golf) but either TD or Cluck kept kicking it out of the nest. Maybe it encouraged Cluck to lay ;)

  3. I've had many hens choose the same nest box, sometimes restlessly waiting their turn, or even cramming two birds into the box at once while there are three "identical" (to me, apparently not to the hens) boxes available. I think it may be an instinctive drive to help ensure survival of eggs/chicks. But what do I know?
    My own tolerance for thuggery amongst any of my animals is very low, so I just don't mix birds of different ages until their sizes are similar. Makes a bit of extra work for me when I'm adding new birds to the flock, but it's worth it to me for quality of life. Theirs and mine ;)

    1. Quinn - I let the chickens out every morning and they're free to roam where they want on the property. Thus keeping them apart would be difficult. And, I wouldn't like to restrict them to a run - that would defeat the object of having free range, wouldn't it?

      Yeah - who knows what the exact difference is between the boxes - but they both definitely prefer the back one. Maybe the back one is more "secluded"?

  4. I let our chooks sort out there differences, cant be doing with playground squabbles, I find they prefer to lay in the nestbox that is darkest, we have 2 cockerels from our batch of chicks, they are just coming up to crowing so will be going in the oven soon :-)

    1. Dawn - That's more or less the direction I'm taking, but I can't have an egg layer going hungry... ;) (especially as she lays bigger eggs than TD) :D

  5. Oh I can't wait for us to have chickens! Every time I read a blog post about them from someone, they just seem like such unique and interesting creatures. thanks for sharing!

    1. 1st Man - I was surprised to learn that they are complex creatures, with definite habits - definitely not "just chickens". They definitely all have different characters lol

  6. I think the joy of having animals is that they constantly remind us that although we think we "own" them, they have minds of their own.

    1. pqsa - Oh, our animals are definitely on their own mission - but that is as it should be, I reckon. I know the Bible says that "man shall have dominion over livestock..." (http://biblehub.com/genesis/1-26.htm) but I prefer to think of it as more stewardship / caretaker - and, in the case of chicken eggs - partaker lol

  7. I have chickens but I can't say I am overly fond of them. My wife likes the chickens though and the dogs like the eggs. When my Labrador has had enough eggs she will crack some open for the cats. But then, she grooms the cats too.

    1. Harry - you're up early, or should that be late lol

      We are getting a lot of enjoyment from the chickens - they are too comical to watch, and, at feeding time, are impossible to walk through as they constantly want to trip us up in their eagerness to get to the coop first.

      The chicken poo is great for your wife's (future) garden... ;)

      You Lab sounds a tad confused - or is it pining for a litter to care for?


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