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The Velociraptor Twins
Three is a nice number of hens to start out with. Enough for them to form a mini-flock and to provide plenty of eggs for two people but not too many that a newbie to the art of chicken keeping gets overwhelmed and things feel out of control. The nice folks at Hippy Chicks http://www.hippychickspoultry.co.uk" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; provided me with two Speckled Sussex – now named Florence and Matilda and a Barnevelder named Hamble.
Soon after they arrived and were released into their new bijou home, it became apparent that the speckled girls were already acquainted and Hamble, as a newcomer to them, was to be positioned well and truly at the bottom of the pecking order. The term ‘pecking order’ comes from the relationships of chickens in a flock and I soon began to see it (and Hamble soon began to experience it) at first hand.
For the first few hours after they arrived, the girls marched around the run, up into the coop then back out again on repeat. Florence and Matilda gave Hamble a few good pecks if she got too close. It was quite heart-breaking seeing Hamble – who was the biggest of the three – shrink away from the pecks and make a submissive ‘bee bee’ noise, positioning her head low and as far from the beaks of the other two as she could. No blood was spilled and hard though it was, I left them to sort it out whilst keeping an eye out for it escalating into something nastier.
Inside the coop at night they were a lot more harmonious. In fact they piled into one of the nest boxes and slept in one cute, cosy, feathery pile. Sleeping in nest boxes is not to be recommended or to be encouraged, but for the first few nights I left them to it in the hope that this close proximity would help them to get along.
For a week or so Hamble was picked on incessantly. I made sure there were several food and water stations in the run so that she had a chance of eating and drinking without getting beaten up. This worked to a degree, but Florence and Matilda tried to chase Hamble away whenever they could. This is when their ancestry led me to a nickname for the aggressors. Looking at them running around; heads in the air on extended necks, brandishing their beaks, then lunging at the submissive Hamble, it was easy to see there are dinosaurs in their lineage. The ‘Velociraptor twins’ it is then! Slight addendum on this though – I believe to be more accurate, chickens share DNA with Tyrannosaurus Rex, but hey, artistic license and all that.
It took about 10 days for relationships to settle down to less confrontational levels. The Velociraptor twins still make an appearance from time to time – Hamble is after all, bottom of the pecking order, but since that initial period they have become a cohesive little flock who do mostly everything together.
The automatic door just gives you that extra freedom. I don't have to worry when I have a lie-in that the girls are locked in their coop. Fab! Velociraptor Twins blog excerpt now published here - enjoy.
Meet Hamble - a Barnevelder...
She is around 10 months old and has been laying since Nov. She usually provides 4 or 5 darkish brown eggs each week. This photo does make her look like one of the Angry Birds. She isn't half as fierce as she looks. She is bottom of the pecking order in my little flock of three. She is a brilliant forager and is greedy as, well, a greedy thing!
Her hobbies include: eating raisins (preferably M&S extra juicy ones!); squawking to be let out the run; eating broccoli - oh how she adores broccoli ; preening her beautiful laced feathers; stealing cat food; running away from the Velociraptor Twins; scratching in the dirt to find anything at all edible and eating it; dust bathing; eating anything she can get a hold off; acting like one of the buxom ladies in the Benny Hill chase scenes when she find a slug and the others are in hot pursuit - cue Benny Hill chase music!
Yes, as my birds are at an allotment the auto is particularly useful. As you say, it also allows them to come in and out as they wish rather than waiting for us to get out of bed.
Hamble has some wonderful double-lacing, what a beaut! Enjoyed hearing about the velociraptor twins too. It sounds like they have settled together in a reasonably calm manner which is always good.
"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need."
wow Hamble's feathers are amazing! Matilda & Florence look like they're going to be into everything the first chance they get.
"He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals."
This is an up-to-date photo of Florence...
She, along with Matilda, is one of the Velociraptor Twins (see previous posts). She is a Speckled Sussex with a deep mahogany base and black and white speckles. Florence is around ten months old. She is likely top of the pecking order, although really Matilda and her sort of seem equal really. She started laying in December and provides 4 or 5 cream eggs each week. Florence is a fine figure of a lady - large and well-proportioned, or as my mum used to say 'big-boned I'll find a full body shot and pop it up later. Florence is on par with Hamble as an excellent forager, with worms a particular speciality.
Hobbies include: scratching in the dirt to find tasty worms; doing that half run half fly thing, squeaking as she goes; eating water melon; rearranging the bark and gravel to suit her own chickenly design ideals; being Benny Hill to Hamble's buxom lady in a chase when Hamble has a slug; eating chard; puting Hamble in her place when she gets above herself; moving the cats along when they get to close; escaping the run when your back's turned.
Thanks. Yes, Matilda and Florence are the adventurous types
This Speckled Sussex girl Matilda...
She is around 10 months old. She hasn't started laying yet but for the past week has been doing the crouch and wing stretch thing when you go to pick her up so I guess it won't be long. Matilda is the smallest of my three girls even compared to Florence, the other Speckled Sussex of around the same age. She isn't half as greedy as the other two and is happy nibbling here and there and spending as much time as possible exploring. I wish I was more like her - a little of everything in moderation Matilda likes a cuddle and is by far the happiest of the three sitting on my lap. I have a real soft spot for Matilda as a consequence.
Hobbies include: watching the world go by; pecking at things that look interesting; trying to catch insects as they fly by; eating raisins - but only if they are soft and small; making that purring warning call at both real and imaginary threats; nibbling broccoli; exploring then running back to the other two when she sees they are too far away for comfort.
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