The Dashwoods were our first flock of chickens. They are now over 5 years old and as of this last Monday, only two remain. They were all fine when James ushered them into the coop Sunday night but sadly, we found Margaret dead Monday morning. A black australorp who was very noisy and had vocalizations that sounded like maniacal laughter and took everything with aplomb, including being on the bottom of the pecking order, she was our favorite. So we were very sad. She is buried next to Marianne.

Chickens live, we are told, on average 5-7 years but can live as long as 10-12. But now with a flock of two that is not really a flock, we were left with making a fast decision. Do we want to continue to keep chickens? Yes. Our urban farm store was taking the final chick order of the year, do we get babies now or wait until spring? How will Mrs. Dashwood and Elinor fare through a cold winter with just the two of them? Out of concern for their well being and flock mental health, we decided to bring home three babies.

We brought home Lucy, Ethel, and Sia on Thursday evening. And because we no longer have cats in the house, we don’t have to keep them closed up in the basement. This has been an absolute delight because we get to hear their peep, peep, peeping and more easily laugh at their shenanigans, like trying to climb out of the brooder, and their races from one end of the brooder to the other. Much of these things we missed with the Dashwoods in the basement. 

Thursday, when we brought them home, they were 2 days old. 

Newly arrived – 2 days old

Sia is the one with the little pom-pom on her head who climbs over the other two. She is a white crested black Polish. If you click through the link and look at the picture, you will see why we named her Sia. 

The fluffy yellow one with the dot on her head is Ethel. Ethel is a salmon faverolle. She will likely have feathers on her feet and a “beard.” They are reportedly very friendly and often silly, whatever that means! Currently she likes to follow Lucy around as is only proper.

The black and creamy penguin is Lucy. Lucy is a black australorp like our Margaret was. We hope she has similar vocalizations and poise. and I hope to catch myself saying, I love Lucy!

Today they are four days old and already getting their little wing feathers. And Sia is already starting to get a little tail. Besides peeping and racing around, they will fall asleep suddenly and tumble over, sometimes doing a nice face plant into their food. Ethel is also an enthusiastic scratcher and enjoys scratching the food out of the feeder and flinging it all over the brooder.

Here is a little video I took of them this morning:

4 days old

Because it is summer and not early spring like when we got our Dashwoods, they will be able to transition outside in about 6-8 weeks. At that time we will segregate them in the coop for a couple weeks until they have all their feathers and are big enough to withstand the working out of the pecking order once they and the Dashwoods are all together. Elinor and Mrs. Dashwood will be able to see them in their half of the coop but there will be a little fence between them, which will also give them time to get used to at least the smell and presence of each other. 

Elinor and Mrs. Dashwood can be mean, they were the top two in the full Dashwood flock. But the three babies are all breeds that tend to be the bottom of the pecking order in a mixed flock, so I am hoping when the time for integration comes, it goes smoothly since the new ones will not be challenging the other two for position. 

You can, of course, expect regular updates as the babies grow.

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16 thoughts on “Babies!

  1. I think this is the best way to live with shorter-lived pets; mourn the ones you lose but get new ones so there are always pets to cheer you up.

  2. I’m sorry about Margaret, but she had a great life with you and James. I look forward to hearing of the exploits and characters of the babies!

  3. Poor Margaret. I’m sorry to hear. It’s wonderful to hear about her laughter and sense of taking things in stride. Qualities I’d like to nurture myself! We can learn so much from our non-human kin.

    Is it possible to adopt chickens as it is to adopt cats. I follow a lot of farm sanctuaries and rescue op’s on social media and wonder how that might work if one had a coop. (In this neighbourhood you can’t even hang your laundry outside. LOL! Grass roots it is not. We’ll be looking for a different kind of situation next.)

    Although bringing other animals into a community is always very tricky and probably even more so if there is a rescue situation of sorts. It just got me thinking. (Also, if you don’t follow them: Goats of Anarchy.)

    1. BIP, thanks! Yes, I find myself frequently wishing I could be more like Margaret. I agree, we definitely have much to learn from our non-human kin!

      As to adopting chickens, yes, sort of. Chickens rescued from factory farming are not good adoption candidates for backyards. They generally have a lot of issues with physical and mental health. However, there is a chicken rescue place here. They mostly have roosters urban chicken keepers have abandoned but sometimes have hens too. A friend of mine got her first flock from them because a stupid teacher thought it would be a great lesson for the kids to see how eggs are hatched but then had no plans for the babies! There is also a local chicken google group and people are regularly looking for others with whom they can re-home their flocks for various reasons. That one is not rescue, but it does keep the chickens from turning into rescue animals. We have a couple farm sanctuaries outside the cities here but from what I can tell, most of their rescues tend to be larger animals, especially pigs. Thanks for the tip on Goats of Anarchy!

  4. Oh no, so sorry about Margaret but these cute chicks are going to be a wonderful addition and I hope all goes well as they get used to their new home and surroundings!

  5. Little cuties! I’m so sorry about Margaret; what a terrible surprise. I hope you have fun with these new members of the flock! We’re not ready to add more yet (haven’t lost any yet, thank goodness) but I am contemplating adding a couple of ducks next spring. Is there anything cuter than ducklings?!?

    1. Thanks Jenny! The babies are growing fast. They heard Mrs. Dashwood singing her egg song the other day and they all stopped peeping and stood still as statues listening to her through the open the window. 🙂

  6. I’m so sorry about Margaret! But I am glad you have these sweet babies! I love seeing what they’ll look like when they’re adults.

    1. Thanks Laila! It’s been so quiet without Margaret. But the babies have gone a long way to easing the grief. It’s pretty wild how different they will look when they are grown up!

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