Things I’ve Learned from My Chickens, Week 1

Lesson 1: Jersey giants are big. REALLY big. They have beady eyes, huge claws, and beaks, reeeally big beaks.

Lesson 2: They move fast. And, oh yeah, they fly.

We got our chickens on Sunday. Henrietta (aka Nettie), Dolly and Birdie, also called “The Girls.”  I haven’t blogged about the girls yet, because mostly we’re all still adjusting. Day one started off…interesting. We had to transfer the girls from the cardboard box we picked them up in, into the coop. Now, I read that chickens need time to adapt to their new homes, or they’ll attempt to fly home. So, I was extremely focused on keeping them contained. That is, until we took the box lid off. Within the first 10 minutes of arriving home, the girls had me screaming and laughing hysterically, all while flapping my arms and jumping around like I was doing a really bad dance. My husband saved the day by running after them down the driveway.  I was still flapping, and laughing even harder.

Lesson 3: Chickens have distinct personalities.

Nettie was broody when we got her. So she didn’t do much besides sit in the coop. She still hides when we come out to see them. She’s not broody anymore, and yesterday she started pecking at her sisters during dinner. She’s letting them know she’s back in action, I think.

Dolly was mild, and sweet the first few days. Now all she does is growl at me and runaway. If first impressions stick with chickens, after my shrieking and dancing on the first day, I don’t believe she’ll ever stop growling. I’m attempting to overcome my intimidation of these huge girls, so I tried to pet Birdie today. Dolly tried to peck me. Yikes!

Birdie. Oh, Birdie.  She is my favorite.  She never missed a beat. She’s inquisitive, outgoing, and doesn’t growl, runaway or peck at me. She let me pet her, twice. She just started making this sweet clucking sound when she sees me. It warms a chicken mothers heart. ❤

The inquisitive Birdie in the forefront, and timid Nellie in the coop. Dolly is too busy growling at me to get in the picture.

Lesson 4: Whoever said chickens don’t lay for awhile after their environment has changed has never met my chickens.

We really didn’t expect to get any eggs for awhile since the girls were uprooted from their home. They had a heat lamp and 16 hours of light there, and Nettie was broody anyway. We put them in their coop at 2pm on Sunday. By Monday at 7am, we had an egg. Now its Friday, and I have 7 eggs in my fridge. I’d call them pretty good numbers! And the eggs are biggin’s!

Lesson 5: You can tell who laid the egg by shape, color, and place, most of the time.

Birdie was the first to lay. It was obvious for a few reasons. One, she was oblivious to any change, and was happy from the start. Two, the egg was huge. HUGE! She’s the biggest of all 3, so I just assume it was her. She made a little nest in the straw, not in the nesting box, and laid the first day. Her eggs tend to be darker , and they’re all extra large.

Dolly laid the first day too, in the same spot as Birdie. Hers were slightly smaller, and lighter in color. I know it was her, because Nettie was still broody, and because I saw her lay one.

Nettie lays in the nesting box. She’s the only one. We’ve gotten two light brown, large sized eggs from her so far.

Dolly's on the left, and birdie's on the right.

Lesson 5: They tend to lay their eggs at the same time of day.

So far all the eggs seem to be found between noon and 2pm.

Lesson 6: They’ll eat mostly anything, but if it’s sweet, they’ll inhale it.

The previous owners told us that they had a sweet tooth. The first few days, I gave them apples. Then the left over kettle corn. They devoured it! Yesterday, I gave them a half a head of cabbage. It’s still sitting there.

Lesson 7: They are funny and really entertaining.

I catch myself standing in the cold watching them. They peck. They scratch. They Flap. It sounds ridiculous. But unless you have them in your backyard and get a chance to watch them, you won’t understand. They’re just comic relief at it’s finest.

Lesson 8: I’m scared of chickens.

Probably not the best lesson to learn after I’ve committed to caring for them, but it’s true. They are intimidating. They’re skiddish around me, probably because I’m skiddish around them. I haven’t picked one up yet (OH DEAR GOD!)  But I’ve attempted to pet them. Unsuccessfully. Dolly wants to kill me. But, everyday we warm up to each other a little more, so it’ll be fine. I’m confident of that.

Lesson 9: I love my chickens.

These ladies don’t require much. And although we aren’t particularly fond of each other yet, I still feed them, give them shelter, and worry about them, and they still give me eggs, fertilizer, compost and entertainment.  I think I got the better end of the bargain in this one.


7 responses

  1. They’ll learn to love the keeper of the food. Do you have grit and oyster shell for them too?

    You can trim their wings so they won’t take off on you, but it’ll require you holding them. There are lots of videos on YouTube on this. They tend not to spaz out as much if you hold them like a football.

    Chickens are a joy to have! You’ll get hours of endless entertainment from them. Wait until it warms up and you watch them taking a dust bath.

  2. Pingback: Chicken Catastrophy—>Diverted. | lost art of simple living

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