Tuesday, 29 April 2014


We finally bought some meal worms on Friday. Naturally this resulted in additional progress in how much they like us :).

They don't quite understand that the worms come from a container, they believe the worms spawn in our hands, which is adorable. They now constantly come over to check if we have any.

I've started trying to convince them to jump onto the chair next to me to get the worms. From there it'll be a short step onto my lap. I have convinced Lumi to jump up once. She'll also stand on my feet or lean against my knees to get closer, which is also good progress.

I gave them cabbage Sunday morning, but they're not too keen on it, they don't seem to understand they need to bite it. It's a bit odd. So I played 'stuff of my chickens' with it instead, so Harriet and Lumi looked like they were wearing cabbage saddles, it was cute. They weren't even phased by me almost touching them, which was nice.

Today! Today there was real progress! Both Lumi and Harriet voluntarily stood on both of us to eat meal worms. We just sat down on the bench and ignored them whilst playing with the worms, it didnt even take a minute before they were both on the chair trying to reach, not long after they were standing on our legs. Wonderful, but scratchy.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Progressing smoothly

Sunday, Monday and Tuesday have all been fairly similar.

Sunday saw Greta finally trust us enough to start eating grapes from our fingers, well mostly she tries to snatch them and run, but will stay and eat them if we hold on tightly enough.

Lumi will now even jump for treats, the Greed is strong in this one. She has also taken to jumping up on the bench and will even let us sit next to her, though touching is not allowed.

Monday 21st.
Lumi has worked out how to jump the mesh fence. 5 days is all it took to escape the enclosure, there'll be no stopping them now. Greta escaped Tuesday. Mostly they just seem to fret about being away from the others and spend their time trying to get back in again anyway :).

Harriet ignored us all Sunday, we were worried we were going backwards with her, but no, apparently she just doesn't like grapes. Yoghurt however, is the best of all treats, all three of them will eat yoghurt off Robert's finger. It's adorable. Unfortunately, they're still scared of bowls, but I remember Agnes and Ripley taking a few days to trust bowls too.

Harriet is also ok with shelled sunflower seeds.

They all managed to sleep on the perch Monday night with no prompting, hooray! Unfortunately Lumi still feels the need to shove Harriet off the perch. This seems like unfixable chicken politics. Greta has at least worked out siting against the right wall with Lumi to the left will ensure she doesn't get shoved off too.

They now associate us with food so they run up whenever we first walk over to them now :).

We spent about an hour hand shelling sunflower seeds for them today, which was a little ridiculous :). For some reason they can't work out how to eat the seeds whole, though I'm sure they'll work it out soon enough. It's so weird looking at their food container with the top covered in sunflower seeds, where they've eaten around them. Agnes and Ripley caused all sorts of trouble by scooping all the other grains out just to get to the sunflower seeds.

These weren't shelled, and therefore were unacceptable.

Each afternoon around 5pm Greta says it's bedtime. She walks into the coop and jumps up onto the the perch. She then jumps back down, walks out to the other chickens and repeats the process about a dozen times trying to convince Lumi and Harriet to come to bed. She clucks angrily about half the time. It's adorable, but so ineffective.

Lumi deciding against going to sleep.

Saturday, 19 April 2014


It's been 21 long, sad weeks since we lost Agnes and Ripley. I honestly cannot say I feel any less sad about it now than I did then. I am absolutely gutted, and even though I'm no longer crying every day, I still miss them constantly, my heart aches with loneliness and sometimes I can't even breathe from the loss. 

After Robert, they were the next most important thing in my life. They always made me happy when I was sad or depressed, and always kept me company when I was alone. The simple, unconditional love only pets can give. 

For so long, the thought of new chickens made me feel ill. No matter how many people said new pets would make everything happier and better I wasn't interested. I understood it wouldn't be replacing Agnes and Ripley, but it still just felt wrong. I was not ready to move on.

However, I could not deny that a week and a half off work for Easter was a perfect time to start bonding with new chicken friends. So now we have three new friends, well, technically one friend, a mildly interested party and another who hates us. It'll be an interesting journey.

When Agnes and Ripley were the cutest baby chickens of all time I started a photo log of their progress, week by week. It was fascinating watching how they developed week to week. However Lumi, Greta and Harriet are all adult chickens, they're not going to change all that much, and certainly not quickly. I wondered how best to record this period of our lives. 

I feel this will be the best method to track our journey to be one cohesive flock. Here I can gush about each new achievement and step towards them trusting us, rather than bore the pants off individual friends. 

This is mostly just a record for me, perhaps someone will stumble upon it and maybe find something to help them befriend their new adult chickens.

Early Progress (days 2 & 3)

Friday, April 18th. After getting back from a run around 7am, in full daylight, I headed to the coop to let them out. To my surprise they hadn't worked out how to get down from the roost. I picked up Harriet and put her on the middle shelf, upon being separated from her friends she immediately jumped back up to the roost. Not a great start to the lesson. Clearly we needed one of the more dominant chickens to make the first  move. Robert managed to get Greta to stand on his hand and lowered her to the bottom shelf. Harriet then jumped down. Lumi, as the largest, and apparently silliest, took quite a lot of coaxing to jump down, she succeeded after a time.

Later in the morning I set out to the coop armed with lettuce and grapes to continue the bribery. It was slow going. Late in the afternoon, after many, many visits with tasty treats Lumi finally ate a long stalk of grass from my fingers; she didn't want to get too close. Greta and Harriet were still completely indifferent to my treats unless I threw them over.

We locked them in the coop late afternoon. They had to put themselves to bed as we had plans. They already did it once, surely that was enough to understand the process? Apparently not. Harriet was the only one to make it onto the perch, Greta and Lumi both slept on the poo shelf under the perch. Good job girls.

Saturday, April 18. They were all down on the ground when I returned from my walk this morning. Much better!

Today I armed myself with grated carrot and grapes. Lumi started taking stalks of carrot from my finger tips, eventually upgrading to off my palm by mid morning. This was better than I could have hoped for, progressing from terrified to eating from my hand in three days.

Yoghurt was my in with little Harriet, she had resisted everything, but early afternoon accepted yoghurt scooped up on an extremely long piece of straw. By late afternoon she was taking grated carrot from our fingertips. 

The only progress with Greta is her looking at the treats we offer her before hurrying away. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

They spent the last part of the afternoon running and jumping around the yard, it looked like they were frolicking. Agnes and Ripley never did anything like it, I can only assume it's because they were spoilt rotten from when they were 3 days old, and free ranged from when they were old enough to safely do so. These three however have clearly been brought up in small pens and weren't even able to roost for the first 4-6 months of their lives, which is sad. At least they can do whatever they like now :).

Lumi was the only one to make it onto the perch tonight. We had to lift the other two up, their angry clucking indicated this was not ok. Hopefully they understand better tomorrow night.

Our new flock

Get a new pet they said, you'll be less sad they said.

Well that was a load of bollocks, but life moves forward no matter how broken my heart is.

For a variety of reasons we were unable to get baby chickens this time. This was worrying because not being there for the first 6 months could limit their acceptance of us into the flock. Most stories online indicated the only way to bond with chickens was to do so from when they were babies, though there were some that indicated success with older chickens.

We chose heritage breeds in hope they will be less prone to the reproductive cancers than the commercial breeds.

Thursday, April 17th. We picked out a Speckled Sussex (Lumi), Spangled Hamburg (Greta) and Rode Island Red Frizzle Bantam (Harriet). They were terrified of us, which was expected. Armed with a wide variety of treats we started the slow process of bribing our way into the flock.

It was very slow going on Thursday. They would only eat the grapes if we threw it to them from a distance. They would flinch violently if we moved suddenly or too close to them, it really highlighted exactly how much we'd lost. I was distraught, I always knew it would take time to gain their trust, but their reactions were so extreme it seemed like an insurmountable obstacle. 

At sunset they started to settle on the ground, it turned out they didn't know how to roost. Luckily it was already getting dark, and after a little struggle we managed to lift them onto the perch. Naturally we didn't order them correctly on the perch and then had to shuffle them.. chicken politics :).