Friday, September 13, 2013

R.I.P. Blanche

Blanche's need for independence caught up to her this week. Most evenings, I would find her roosting in the pine tree above the chicken run. But my husband heard a howling noise in the night and woke up to find a bunch of feathers blowing around near the dog's run, where I'd never seen her. When my husband let the dogs out, they immediately led him to a section of the fence where Blanche lay dead, her neck broken.

Of course I question myself on this.

I've reintroduced Blanche to the flock several times, only to see her relentlessly picked on. It's something I cannot tolerate. When I'd open the door to the coop to let her decide if she wanted to go in or not, 9 times out of 10 she wouldn't. On the rare occasion when she did go in, the flock ganged up on her. I'd find her in a nesting box, ducking blows, or trying to get food, but getting pecked for her efforts.

She had made a home in the loft above the flock last year and this year, in the compost pile, where she'd layed eggs this summer and tried to hatch them. She never left the yard. 

Was she better on her own or should I have forced her to live with the flock? If this were an obit, would it read, She lived life on her own terms, and died doing what she loved best?

She was a hen with issues and I did what I thought was best for her. At 5 years old, she was among the oldest in my flock. She was so tough, surviving through winters out in the run on her own, that I was surprised and saddened when my husband told me he'd found her.

R.I.P. Blanche. I'm sorry if I did you wrong.

This summer, Blanche disappeared for a day or two. I finally found her in living in the compost pile behind the run. sitting on some eggs she had layed. I will miss your crazy ways, Blanche.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

It's minus 5

But friendship knows no temperature bounds. Ayd Mill Road keeps Blanche company and keeps her warm, even in subzero wind chills.

There have been a lot of posts on our Twin Cities Chickens google group lately regarding cold weather. Favorites include:

  • Check under a hen's wing to determine if they are warm enough
  • Add gallon jugs of hot water inside the coop to raise the temperature
  • Wrap the run in plastic to encourage them to still go outside (essential for Blanche)
I have another to add: All that food in your freezer that is no longer identifiable? Bake it on a cookie sheet and serve it up warm to your hens. You get a clean freezer and the chickens get a little warmth in their bellies.

It warms my heart that Blanche has someone. We all need somebody, right?

Blanche and friend. If anyone has a name to suggest that is better than Ayd Mill Road, please let me know.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Blanche for President!

Blanche is my write-in vote next election.

It's 9 below here in Minnesota on Inauguration and Martin Luther King, Jr. day. Yet that doesn't deter Blanche from leading her solitary life outside. Yep, just taking this picture was, for me, like taking the Polar Bear Plunge. But there's Blanche, toughing it out. That's why I'd like to nominate her for President. She can not only make those unpopular, difficult decisions, she can also execute them.

Blanche does have a Vice President, too. In the very late fall, someone found a stray hen crossing Ayd Mill Road. No one claimed her, so I adopted her. My thinking was that when I reintroduced Blanche to the flock, who is allowed to be outside all summer away from the flock, I would introduce this new hen as well. They would then have each other.

It worked!

Ayd Mill Road, her temporary name, gets along with everyone. At first, her stray tendencies kicked in and she would wander far out of the yard, or try to escape. Now she is settled in, gets along with the whole flock, and sits on the perch with Blanche, no matter what the weather.

Jim wrapped the run in plastic, but ran out where the ugly blue tarp takes over. That has helped keep it warmer, allowing the hens to move in and out freely and may be the reason Blanche is able to endure this polar bear weather. It doesn't look good. I don't think there are many coops that look good in winter. But the hens are happy.

Blanche on the perch far right. It's minus 9 out there.

Blanche during the summer. She perches in the pine tree at night.