The first few weeks of hen residency brought unexpected challenges and anguish. The evening after we brought home our three ladies we had a break-in. A neighborhood dog decided to test out the strength of the fenced area connected to the hen house. Brian was gone and I did not hear any commotion. We ended up losing our Chocolate Maran. I was so looking forward to lovely chocolate-colored eggs! The Rhode Island Red (Big Mama) was missing as well, but when we saw her pecking around the coop the next morning, we rejoiced! After a little coaxing and my husband’s amazing patience, she was retrieved and returned to the reinforced chicken complex.
We had dogs to worry about now. I didn’t want them to become comfortable with trespassing on our property and slaughtering our poultry for a snack. By the next visitation from our canine thieves, I was prepared (as prepared as a mama can be with a two year old and a newborn to care for). I was wearing Audrey in a baby carrier when I noticed the two predators checking out the chickens. I quickly grabbed a walking stick and rushed outdoors. I knew these dogs were not people aggressive, so I did not have reservations about chasing them off and showing them that I was the pack leader around here – ready to protect all within my care. I found that the water hose worked better than a stick. Thus it was that I spent the next few days (until I got my message across). Cora watched from the window as her crazy mama headed outside, armed with spraying water and transporting a baby still secured in her carrier. Eventually they gave up attempting to snag another hen, and our egg-producers could scratch, peck and lay in peace.
Unfortunately, the chicken coop was not finished until fall. This meant that we only received two eggs before the girls decided to take their winter break. We had added two layers to the flock – a Barred Rock and Campine. By January we started finding an egg or two every other day, and in February it jumped to about a dozen a week. Each egg I bring into the kitchen makes all the experiences in the beginning worth it!