Friday, June 24, 2011

Rhode Island Red x New Hampshire

Ordering two chickens over the phone became five chickens in person when I saw them all crowded into their cages on the back of a truck this morning. Then, once I saw them in the chicken run, I realized they were jailbirds - caged birds. So it is satisfying to offer them a life pecking around the Merewether Life backyard. Just hope everyone can get along now there are 10 birds in all.

You can see more about our Backyard chickens at these posts...

Good Morning Chickens

Keeping Chickens in the Backyard

Gold Laced Wyandottes

Taming of the Chickens

Chickens Chickens Chickens

Free at last, just have to pick up this scratch scratch peck dance
The big chicken truck had cages stacked six high (I didn't have my camera so no images) filled with feathers, red, brown and black. The chickens were silent and almost motionless, just tilting their heads and blinking from inside their cages. Even the cage with a few big roosters was still, with just one swivelling his head to clean a feather on his shoulder.

They stayed together like they were still in a cage
There were a dozen or so people lined up and the old bloke in front of me told me he was getting four birds. The four he had at home were getting old and laying less.
"So I chop their heads off and throw 'em in the garbage" he said.

Once I got back to Merewether Life, I put the box in the chicken run and opened the flaps. Nothing. I lifted the edge of the box and they stayed put, so I lifted it even more and could feel the weight shift as they slid out onto the ground. They fell together and just stayed there, blinking in the sunlight. So I moved towards them and they fluttered up with a wing flap or two, then fell down and landed on their sides, awkwardly. It was obvious they were not used to being on the ground, or having the space for flapping their wings. You can see the tail feathers are all frayed from the cage.

You can see the frayed tail feathers on this big red bird
Will be interesting to see how the Rhode Island Red / New Hampshires adapt to the new living arrangements and settle into the pecking order with the Black Australorps.


  1. Thank goodness for people like you! It amazes me that people can treat such an interesting and quirky feathered bundle of Joy so poorly.

    Do they have no heart or soul?? Probably not, or perhaps it is just lack of compassion, what ever it is, I think it is unforgivable.

    I remember too the day I brought Belle and Ariel home. The story and introductions to a natural "chook" environment went just like you write. I got them from our local fodder supply store - lovely people run this place. The owner did pretty much the same as you - he agreed to 30 birds from "caged layer farm" when the truck pulled up with 100 featherless, robbed of all dignity (huddled together) scared chooks. He took one look at the poor girls and kept the lot!! The better looking of the bunch were at the store. The rest (75 odd) were sent to his father in laws farm till they grew some feathers and learned to be chooks!

    I look at my girls now, they love the home they have, they adore their dirt baths, Lord help anyone who dares disturb this sacred moment of utter joy. Ariel even learned to stand up for herself and Belle against the bossy bunnies and 2 light sussex hens,Tink and Pox. (Whom we also brought home on the same day but they had never met). They now even boss around our Rooster!! A far cry from their first steps in Fairy Castle Farm.
    I really enjoyed reading your post today, congratulations on your new girls - may they bring you hours of joy and entertainment as they learn to be real chooks again!! from yollie

  2. Thanks Yollie, is very exciting here, have all the nieghbourhood kids naming them and picking them up - won't be long before they get used to being handled and eating tuna bake leftovers!


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