Backyard chicken keeping has many highs – the (almost) constant source of fresh eggs, the lovely personalities of the hens, watching them clucking around the garden …. but it has some lows too, such as when Ethel, Mabel and Doris met Mr Fox at Easter.
On Friday, you may remember, we brought home two legbar chicks and happily named them and settled them in. They have a separate house and run to the other two new chooks, until they’re big enough for them all to live together in a couple of months time. Unfortunately, Margo died in the run yesterday afternoon, with no clear cause. It’s not unheard of for this to happen, but it doesn’t normally happen just two days after bringing them home. It’s so sad.
I contacted the breeder, as much to let him know in case there was an issue with the flock as for our own sake. After chatting for a while, answering his questions about what we’d done since we brought them home, he was satisfied we hadn’t done anything to cause her death, and offered a replacement bird. The rest of the flock is healthy, and there’s really nothing else he can do – he doesn’t strictly need to do that, but obviously any good breeder wants to foster goodwill with their customers.
So this afternoon, the kids and I went back to the farm and collected a new bird. It may seem a bit soon to some, but it was necessary for the sake of Barbara. She was left on her own, isolated from the bigger birds for her own safety and with no other bird living with her, she would soon have become stressed. We got another legbar, from the same group as the Barbara had come from and brought her home.
Barbara was hiding in the coop as she has done since yesterday, and so I carefully put her new friend in the coop too. They both hopped up to the next boxes and looked at each other across the divide. They cheeped at each other a bit and then seemed to be wondering what to do, so I popped new girl down on the floor and gently nudged her towards the pop hole. She took the hint and ventured out into the run, found the food and tucked in. Barbara followed a minute later and then they had a stroll around together. Barbara already looks happier. I am very relieved.
Bean was upset that the bird he had named had died, and at first was resistant to replacing her and didn’t want to come and get the new one. Certainly didn’t want to name it. But once we got there, and the breeder had got us a bird (we don’t really get to select one – they’re in a fairly large outdoor enclosure and are small and very fast – you get the one you can catch!), he happily stroked her whilst I held her, and chatted to her. On the way home, he decided she should be Margo v2, and so she is called MargoT. And whilst I’m sure most will not be able to see a difference between any of them, I can at least tell them apart (at this age, there are very few differences, and it’s come down to the tiny coloured feathers above their eyes).
In happier news, the rescue chooks have settled in rather well, despite the constant rain we’ve had and have laid 5 eggs between them since Sunday. Rita is rather intrigued about the creatures in the adjacent run though, and keeps pecking at the handle on the door to their run!