There’s Always One in a Crowd

The other chicks are content to run about in the brooder and perch on the branches in the coop. Not this one. She’s discovered the HenCam mount and very much likes the view. I wonder if she’ll be a “top hen” and lord it over the others when full-grown? So far, pecking order seems to be entirely about size. But, I haven’t sat and watched for any length of time, so there’s probably more going on than I’ve noted. I’ve been concerned about spreading the mycoplasma to the chicks and so do my chores quickly and leave them alone. However, soon they’ll be flapping over the cardboard walls. It’s time to dismantle the brooder and let them have the entire big barn coop to explore. I’ll get to that task this week.

The weather has been dark, damp, rainy and chilly. But, last weekend there was a break and we gave the chicks an outing in their run. I handed the chicks off to my son, who set them down in the reseeded and grassy pen.

They found the edges with dirt and worms. This girl knew exactly what to do without any help from me. See the worm? She does!

A good time was had by all. Even the little blue cochin.

Lily was very interested in the chicks. She’s known that they were in the barn, but hadn’t had a chance to meet them.

I can train Lily not to gallop along the fence, causing the birds to startle (a game she’d love to be allowed to do) and I can even teach her not to toss the chickens about like rag dolls. But, since training is never 100% I won’t ever take the risk and allow them to meet without a fence between them. Not all dogs are as movement-reactive as Lily. I know plenty of dogs that are fine with mature hens; my late, great Nimbus (an Australian Shepherd/Husky and the best dog in the world, ever) used to follow the chickens around and eat their poop (well, she was the best dog, but not perfect.) Lily chases hawks out of the sky. She’s a good dog, too. Even if she thinks that the chicks are squeak toys.


  1. Lily sounds like my border collie, Maddy, who spends her spare time stalking the chickens. Fortunately for the chickens, they are separated by a wire fence! In the past, I’ve had free-range hens and the dogs never bothered them but Maddy caught and dispatched the first couple of Guineas that flew out of the run. So much for “Guineas in the Garden” (a delightful book). The survivors learned to stay inside the fence!

    • I’ve heard that guineas are smarter than chickens, and now I believe it. Lily would eat the hens one by one and that last hen still wouldn’t have figured it out.

  2. But Mom, they ARE Squeeky toys! lol My dog Pepper is 7lbs and a danger to any chicken who isnt grown and have an attitude! One of my hens will actually turn around and chase my dogs-too funny to see a dog running from a chicken! :)I always supervise doggy visits to the chicken yard.

  3. So sorry to hear about Blackie:( My how the babies have grown! New life will lead to new adventures for you and your chickens! You are very right in your wisdom…There is ALWAYS one!!!

  4. My Aussie is fascinated with the chicks when they are very little and peeping in their first home. But once they go outside and live as chickens, she doesn’t care at all except to eat their poop. Our other dog will leave them alone out on the property, but if they come into the back yard (dog yard), he will go after them. My Aussie loves to chase turkey vultures off the property…she can cover the 5 acres with them overhead and she’s pretty sure SHE is the reason they fly off. It’s really entertaining when the mini donks put their heads down and chase the chickens. We have no life except our animals! LOL!!

  5. Yep, one in every bunch. My last batch I had one that I thought somehow got out and disappeared, couldn’t find it anywhere. Then after putting the water fountain in the brooder I turn around and came eye to eye with her. She had managed to get up on a shelf about 5 feet up and was sitting there as happy as she could be. She is a brown leghorn (known for being flyers) and I am assuming got to the top of the cage about three feet high , when I took the wire top off to retrieve the waterer and feeder for cleaning, and then up onto the shelf.

    • Ken- I’ve been thinking about you. Your state hasn’t had a break! (for my readers – he’s in Missouri where there have been lethal tornados.)

      • Thanks Terry. My life if getting back to normal, somewhat. Roof, gutters, facia etc replaced, most of the trees and cut up wood is gone. If I ever see another roofing shingle in my life it will be too soon although I am still finding little pieces around the yard from time to time. The new chicken coop will be set up June 16th and the fencing around the yard shortly after that.
        I will say the chickens sure are enjoying the freedom. I hope they can adjust once their coop and fence go up. ;-)

        • Wow, such horrible storms this year. I grew up in Iowa and have seen tornado devastation. Your chickens might need a storm cellar.

  6. I’ve been working with my pup, too! He gets SO freaking excited when they flap about. He’s been super great though. We sit out by the girls in their run and lay down quietly getting lots of treats and pets anytime he looks at me instead of them. I agree though, no matter how good I think he is, I doubt I’ll ever trust him enough to risk having them meet without a barrier. I just LOVE reading your blog and seeing your pics. You make me feel like I’m going everything right and you reaffirm that it’s not always a cake walk. Thanks!

    • Exactly how I train Lily – though I use the clicker as the marker to let her know she’s doing the right thing.

  7. Little Blue looks good; I knew she’d catch up! My bet is that she will be top hen actually. It’s always the quiet ones you have to watch…

    • No, the picture lies. She’s still half the size of the others and sits more than walks. But I think she’ll be a stubborn thing and do just fine.

  8. They look like such a happy bunch – and loving the adventure of being outside. Hope the weather perks up and they can have more time outside as they get bigger and more robust.

    The little brown girl on the webcam looks like quite a character – i think she’d be a doddle to train ;-)

    Celia (thanks for the card – it arrived this morning)

    PS pop over to my blog to find out about the book I bought at the antiques warehouse

  9. So sorry to hear about Blackie, but I think you did the compassionate and courageous thing. Her shimmering feathers and big plumage were a delight to watch. Such a beautiful hen who laid those gorgeous blue-green eggs. And kudos to Eleanor for being her true friend.

    Glad the little blue cochin looks livelier. She did seem alone and lethargic at times. And the brown one next to her with the “Don’t tread on me” expression looks like a hot ticket.

  10. Are they still afraid of your hands coming into the brooder, or they slowly getting use to your hands ? Before acourse you had to watch from getting them infected acourse and afterwards.

  11. I have to laugh at chicks when they get their freedom. I let my little girls out of their cage today. Their cage is in the big girl’s coop so they could get used to each other, steal food between the bars, and glare. When the little ones got their freedom, there was a burst of energy, much flapping short take-off flights, and chest bumping with each other, fluffing and exploring. The big girls ignored them and some just scurried out of the way. Then everyone settled down to a dustbath in whatever patch of sunshine they could find. They look so contented I thought I heard a purr! Lucy Suitor Holt

  12. The hencam chick looks pleased with herself. And… Oh my gosh. Those chicks are co cute exploring their new, big world. Thanks so much for sharing the great photos, Terry.

  13. Wow!!…The chicks are bigger than I thought, the chickcam can be deceiving with nothing to compare their size too!! :-)
    I’m pulling for Little Blue….I bet she’ll have alot of personality!!