Five make a flock

I worried that my two chooks were pining for company, particularly since Betty Blue died. A pair didn’t seem quite right. Egg production was down. Dora’s eggs were thin-shelled, broken, or missing shells altogether. Popcorn went through a couple of broody phases, and we had to buy eggs. Then she began laying her occasional eggs in a nest she made under a fern by the woodpile and, once, behind a tree. Perhaps she was unsettled by Dora’s broken eggs.

My niece was ‘all egged out’ with her three chooks, Betty, Mabel and Vera (BMV), and she and her partner want their lawn back now they have a baby. So BMV have travelled, along with their hen house, from Dunedin to my place.

Now there are five chooks at my back door waiting for treats – or for a chance to sneak inside, perhaps. And more for me to do with ‘poop patrol’ and swabbing the deck. Only Dora and Popcorn get up on the outdoor furniture. The new chooks are far too polite.

They don’t mix very well together yet, but seem to sort things out between them. Dora turns into Godzilla (or her tyrannosaurus rex ancestor) if the new chooks are near food she has her eye on or if she just feels like chasing them for fun. That’s the pecking order, I guess.

For a day or two BMV overnighted in Popcorn’s fern nest, but they sleep in their own house now. Dora and Popcorn don’t go inside the new hen house. Two of the new chooks, however, have decided that laying their eggs in Dora and Popcorn’s nesting box is a good idea. Popcorn told the whole neighbourhood about it at first, but now she happily lays her egg with theirs. That seems to be healthy flock behaviour.

Dora and Popcorn inspect the palatial hen house of the new chooks.

BMV seem to be of an even temperament and stick together, often eating out of the same small bowl at the same time – something Dora and Popcorn never do, although they are usually together as well.

When I lift the lid of Dora and Popcorn’s house, they like to hop in and scratch about in the straw.

We often have surplus eggs now, which go to my sister and her family. With two teenage boys, they use a lot of eggs. When they drove to Dunedin for the older boy’s IRB (Inflatable Rescue Boat) competition before Easter, they kindly brought the chooks back, having taken their trailer to transport the hen house, and three cat carriers for the chooks (who travelled in the car).

This cartoon from the Listener gives some idea of what an IRB competition looks like!

Here are three happy chooks enjoying the sun.

Overall, a good result: a functioning flock, in full production:

Three eggs from three new chooks. The smaller one at the back is Popcorn’s.
Rhubarb muffins made with BMV eggs.

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