Flock Update

As always, there are multiple storylines going on in my backyard, so I thought I’d use this post to catch you up on some of what’s happening.

Pearl, the Blue Cochin, and Topaz, the Buff Orpington, continue to brood. I’ve already broken Topaz once of a broody spell by putting her into the anti-broody coop. It worked, but within a couple of weeks she went back to sitting in the nesting box, on top of nothing. Broody hens don’t lay, but since the other hens are producing plenty of eggs, I’d ignore her this time around except for several extenuating circumstances. She’s one of those crazed broodies who only gets off the nest box once a day to eat and defecate. Although she won’t starve to death, she has lost weight and looks poorly. Pearl isn’t like that. When I remove Pearl from the nesting box and set her outside with the Gems to free-range, she hunts bugs and eats grass for a half-hour before going back inside. Not Topaz. She paces and doesn’t eat a thing, and then when I let back in looks like this. Bonkers.

Yesterday was hot, so I slipped a cold pack under her. That’s supposed to bring down the hen’s body temperature and break the broody spell. Topaz looked at it, and was thrilled – something to sit on! She hunkered down on the cold pack all day until I finally removed it.

I’d give up, except Topaz is so desperate to sit on something that she has now taken to sitting on top of Pearl.

Yesterday, poor Pearl, underneath the full feathery weight of Topaz, was panting and looking on the verge of heat stroke. However, being broody herself meant that Pearl refused to move. Giving Topaz fake eggs to get her off of Pearl won’t work. I know because she ignores the real eggs in the other nesting boxes. Topaz has become fixated on Pearl. So, today Topaz will go back into the anti-broody coop.

Meanwhile, Twinkydink, who is over seven years old, has started laying again. That one egg the other day was not a fluke. She’s now laid two more, all with sturdy shells and the same funny pointy shape. It’s like she’s found some magic laying hen elixir.

Lastly, Philomena passed away in her sleep just a day after we euthanized her sister, Agnes. I did a necropsy on her, and although she presented the same outward symptoms, looking inside of her I found different issues. What was the same was that she was tumorous. Although it is clear that she had been failing for a long time, I don’t think that it affected her daily life until recently because her crop was full and she had produced manure the day before. So, my flock of older hens in the small barn dwindles, but I am learning from each of them.

It has been hot here, but nothing like the dangerous temperatures in the rest of the country. The fireflies have been blinking at night and the frogs have been singing. Toad babies the size of my pinkie’s fingernail are hopping in the garden. The tomatoes are still green and I’m impatient for the harvest. There’s a lot of sumer left and more storylines to follow.


  1. Great post, Terry. Sorry for both your losses, and my wishes for a great summer at Little Pond Farm!

  2. Until I found your site and started reading it and watching your chickens, I had no idea how much work it is to raise and care for chickens.

  3. Yesterday evening I happened to see you remove the blue thing – then later either your husband or son moving Topaz and Pearl, It looked like the gentleman was actually laughing at those two silly birds! I never thought a cochin could look any fluffier but I was wrong! Good luck Terry! Do the goats handle the heat okay? Candy doing alright in the heat? Sorry for the loss of Philomena and how about that Twinkydink! I so enjoy your blog, thank you for sharing.

    • I’ve a feeling that others have the same questions so I’ll answer here. Bunnies are very, very susceptible to heat stroke, but Candy has access to cool dirt in the shade, so she knows to go there when it’s hot. But, she’s an old rabbit and even my vet (who adores her) says she doesn’t have much more time. Still, she’s happy and looking good now, so maybe she’ll find Twinkydink’s elixir! The goats don’t mind the heat at all, and if they do get hot they sit in the shade. And yes, Steve was laughing at those two broodies :)

    • Does it appear Twinkydink is showing a little more aplomb?

  4. I’m sorry you lost another hen. I laughed at the pictures today because the expressions are just so endearing. I don’t know what it is with chickens, I think their animation and detailed features, but they are one of my favorite subjects for my photos.

  5. Maybe Twinkydink’s eggs contain a magic elixir! Whoever eats one will cease to age and begin to youthen!

  6. Thank you for the update on all the girls. I had missed Philomena. I was concerned that the loss of Agnes might affect her. I was raised with the belief that animals have their own “heaven.” There is a Hindu belief that chickens, cows, goats all have a collective conciousness as humans do. I am sure that for Agnes and Philomena to have come to live with you on Little Pond Farm was very close to heaven on earth.
    Thank you for sharing Little Pond Farm with us.

  7. I am sorry to hear of Philomena’s passing. It looks like the Polish are know the youngest, I hope they will continue in their nutty way to do okay. As for your broodies, I remember you stating that the Buff’s didn’t have any personality differnces between them, and I said they just needed to grow into one. And Topaz has, I betcha from know on you will have no problem telling the difference between her and her sisters. Even though she is a grumpy broody, maybe you can loan her out to a friend for the summer to raise a few chicks ?

  8. Hi,
    Just found your site!
    I did a necropsy on a hen with ascites and found she was filled with tumors. Very odd looking things. Have you found this in other hens? The vet was of little help, even though I showed him pictures. What did the tumors you found look like?

  9. So many things going on at your place this past couple of weeks. Sorry to hear of your second loss in such a short time span. Poor Pearl – broody, cranky, hot, and now squished as well! I hope Topaz is soon over her broodiness and is able to eat regularly (and give Pearl some space). As for Twinkydink; well, she’s just amazing. The pictures you’ve been getting of Topaz are priceless!

  10. It sounds like you’ve been going through a lot on the farm. It was probably best to put Topaz back in the coop (3rd time) to cool down, once again. I’m saddened to hear that Philomena passed away but she at least went peacefully and is now with Agnes. It is another loss for you and the other hens. I’m so sorry about Philomena. Well, on an uplifting and positive note, Twinkydink has surprised even you, and you’re the hen expert. Who knows what caused her to start laying again after all this time. I didn’t know they’d start laying again after stopping especially later in life. So, while you had some losses this past week, there was a positive event with Twinkydink’s new eggs. I hope this coming week continues to bring happy and positive events at your home and farm.

  11. My thoughts are with you for your second loss in a week. I went to read about the girls you lost and noticed that you already removed them from your animal bios. On your old website, I remember you had a memorial page. Any thoughts of reinstating it?

  12. I also have a very broody hen. First time I have dealt with this issue. This hen has been moulting for several months, still lays an now and then, thin shell egg. Several days ago she went under the nesting boxes (they seem to like it there) and only comes out once in a while. She seems alert…..under there. Maybe tomorrow I will try an ice pac. She wil peck me for sure….never has been the sweetest of birds.

    • A hen that takes a very long time to molt and lays thin-shelled eggs has some health issues. Does your flock have access to oyster shell and greens? Anyway, if she’s not laying sound eggs you might as well let her have a break with her broodiness. Sometimes it’s just not worth hassling them – especially the “temperamentally challenged” like yours :)

  13. Sorry to hear of the loss of Philomena. Topaz is bonkers! and Twinkydink amazing!. It just shows you never can tell what is round the corner. So much happening at your place.

    • Carol, now that you have your own flock, you’ll find out that something is always happening! There’s always a story to tell.

  14. Oh poor Philomena. Boy, Topaz really does look a little crazed doesn’t she? It’s really an amazing thing how they go broody and are so fixated on …well, nothing. Twinkydink looks so proud of herself. I love hearing about everything going on in your back yard. Stay cool Candy.

  15. I, too, miss the “Loved and Remembered” page.

  16. Wow. You’ve sure got your hands full. Our ancestors must have been pretty tough old birds themselves because they couldn’t go to the grocery store if the chickens or cow died! Hope you get to enjoy the rest of your summer. A neighbor here in Georgia loaded me up with vine ripe tomatoes and green peppers the other day. She said she’s going to bring me eggplant when they’re ripe.

  17. Sorry to hear about Philly, at least they are clucking together now! I am waiting for my Speckledy (Dotty) to go broody, she has the signs but no sitting – yet! Broody cage is at the ready, maybe Topaz needs to be fanned by a minion…..

  18. If you need to cool Candy— Take a two liter bottle and fill one half with water. Lay it on it’s side in the freezer until frozen then take it out to Candy. My rabbits would actually lie on top of it to cool down.

    • That’s a great trick. Please tell Candy that it works. I have tried frozen bottles. I’ve tried cold packs, hidden under the hay. She shuns all of them. Sigh :)

  19. Yes i too would LOVE to see the “Memorial” page back again. Just looking at the pics of the hens that had died would awaken lovely memories of the early days of Hen Cam – with each bird in her prime.

  20. I think one of my chickens has worms and wondered if you could suggest something to get rid of them, I have asked a vet at the local store but she had no idea. Thanks