Saturday, June 5, 2010

Of Wading Ponds and Pecking Orders

The weather has turned just plain HOT over the last week. The girls spend the hottest part of the day in their coop where it's shady and a "cool" 95 degrees! The sit on the bedding at the bottom with their wings spread out a bit to allow for air flow. Once the sun goes over the hill, they're back out digging around until the sun goes down.

I tried putting out a pie tin of ice water for them as a "wading pond". I read on one of the chicken keeping sites that this was something that might help. Well, Ingrid came running out of the coop like she'd been shot out of a cannon (one of the other girls probably spooked her) and she inadvertently ran right into the "pond".  As soon as one of her little chicken toes hit that cool water she squawked and jumped backward! I came out a couple of hours later and the entire tin was upside down on the ground. Knowing my hens the way I do, I suspect it happened something like this...

Petunia (the brave one) decided to check out the pond more closely. She pecked at it a bit and poked at a few of the floating ice cubes. Once it was deemed relatively safe, Ruby decided to stake her claim on it and stepped up on the edge of the pie tin, which promptly flipped up, hitting Ruby in the face and dumping the water all over her. I'm sure this caused quite a ruckus in the pen. I wish I had had my camera setup for that one.

I noticed a couple of weeks ago that both Clara and Petunia were becoming more standoffish toward me. I guess this must officially be the "teenage years" as far as hens go. The girls have gotten quite feisty over the last week and I'm pretty sure they're working out the pecking order.  I see Ingrid spending quite a bit more time on a roost during the day watching Petunia, Clara, and Ruby chasing each other over who's going to get what piece of straw.

The other morning we heard a very loud and very distinct squawk. When I went to open the hen house, Ruby was bleeding just above the beak (they must heal quickly because it was no longer visible that afternoon). Later in the evening as they're getting ready to roost, Petunia is stepping on Ingrid to get to the other side of the roost and Clara is pecking everyone's feet to have the roost to herself!! Clara is significantly larger than all of the others and I suspect she'll be "top hen". But Ruby and Petunia are standing their ground. Time will tell!

1 comment:

  1. the ice-water-in-the-pie-pan had the same results in my coop. Everyone was scared at first, Phyllis picked at the ice cubes, then someone knocked it over. I'm trying ice cubes in their waterer, and ice cubes in a deeper container... a kitten-sized cat litter pan. We'll see how that goes.