The Teenagers Strike Out on Their Own

Letting go is hard.

You can’t help but think back to when they were babies with sweet innocent faces. How they relied on you for food and warmth and love.

But part of raising young is allowing them to spread their wings and leave the nest, so you swallow your fears and smile and encourage them to step out into the world, all the while doing what you can to make sure they stay safe.

chick

Oh what a difference two months make. Here’s one of the Barred Rock chickens at one day old.

chicken coop

It’s time to let them roam, so we’ve started propping open the big door to the chicken coop.

In other words, we’re finally starting to let the teenage chickens range out of the coop. Which is scary because we’ve heard so many cautionary tales from other chicken owners about eagles, hawks and even ravens swooping in and carrying off young birds. There’s also raccoons and minks and otters who pose a threat to chickens in general, although we’ve not seen any. For us, the biggest danger we can see is there is that fox who still lurks nearby–just today, Neela, our broodmare, again came snorting out of the barn, head held high, scanning the area for the threat she could smell before she could see. I followed her gaze and sure enough, there he was, the same small, black fox. He has cute roundish ears and a pert black nose. But he’s after the chickens, who we’ve raised since they were one day old, so I regard him with a hardened heart.

chickens

The black-and-white chickens are the Barred Rocks. Clearly, they love Matt.

For now, the girls, as we call them, are only allowed out under close supervision. Which is fine with them–they love Matt, and hover close to him, cooing happily. The Barred Rock chickens are friendlier than the Australorps; I’m not sure if it’s a breed character trait or we simply spent more timing handling the Barred Rock because they were our firstborns, so to speak.

chickens-smileSo far, so good. Six Barred Rock plus six Australorp = twelve chickens.

And one fox. 

Wish us luck!

black fox

I have’t been fast enough to snap his picture, so this is what our fox looks like. According to the wiki page the photo is from, it’s a red fox in a black color phase. The photo is of a fox on San Juan Island, where we live. Here’s the wiki page: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Black_fox.JPG

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One thought on “The Teenagers Strike Out on Their Own

  1. Oh my, this makes me miss my chickens! I raised Barred Rocks when I was in FFA, and had some mixed hens awhile back before the health problems. I loved my chickens and some were pets. Even had a couple mixed Bantam hens that I used to raised my chicks and they were pretty much pets. Even house broken! They would live in a big box in the house when the chicks were little, and the momma would jump on the side of the box and cluck at me to pick her up and take her outside, where she’d do her business and then run to the door to go back to her chicks. Sometimes she’d run to the door to be let out! We had one mixed silky hen that liked to have her belly scratched and would roll over on your lap for a good tummy rub!

    My suggestions would be:
    Bury metal or heavy gauge small hole wire about 8 inches deep under the chicken run fence to keep out predators at night.
    Get some larger mixed banty hens, not the little purebred pretty ones bred for show. Mine were usually a bit smaller than the regular chickens but not tiny. They often have a lot of survival instincts and can help to keep your other hens safe.
    Over about 8 years I did lose hens to the Red Tailed Hawks that nest near our place, but the Bantys helped them learn to watch the sky and to run from tree cover to tree cover if hawks were around.

    Hugs from Oregon!

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