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The Hen Blog

Fox or Raccoon kills hens

4 March 2017
Sweetpea and Daisy have a blooming rosebush in their outdoor coop.

Sweetpea and Ginger have a blooming rosebush in their outdoor coop.

Due to human error, our hens, Sweetpea and Ginger, were killed by a raccoon or fox.

We’d let the girls out in the garden for a little sunshine and free-ranging. The wind came up and blew down a large pine tree. The door to the henhouse blew shut. We were busy assessing damage all afternoon. Twilight came and from the house, the coop door appeared shut. Little did we remember our hens were let out that afternoon.

In the morning we found them dead.

Hens, Sweetpea and Ginger were killed by a raccoon or fox.

Hens, Sweetpea and Ginger were killed by a raccoon or fox. It appears as if a fox or raccoon killed them in the night.




I am sick about this. I had nurtured Sweetpea after a dog attack and she was eight years old. That is old for a hen. Ginger was four years old and had been given to me by a neighbor. A sweet and gentle Buff Orpington.

These hens died as a result of “human error”. I will be getting 3-4 pullets soon. I will think twice before letting them out as I know bad things can happen. I feel awful!











Hens need winter greens

25 January 2016
Two hen in flowering schrub (Calendula).

Two hens in flowering shrub (Calendula).


And, like many of us seniors, our “senior” chickens need their winter greens each day. In Cambria, where we live, we have greens growing pretty much year around. We let the hens out of their coops for a few hours during the late afternoon to pick some greens from the garden. Their favorite greens, growing in the winter is, Tendergreen Mustard Spinach (komatsuna or Japanese mustard).


Grow greens for hens and family:

Tender green Mustard Spinach is easy-to-grow. It even will grow in the winter under light snow. You’ll need to re-seed every few months to keep a constant supply. If you’d like to grow your own, for your family or your hens, see Central Coast Gardening for details on growing komatsuna.


Penelope eating greens from my hand.

A hen eats greens from my hand.



Chickens also love French sorrel which is a perennial. It stays green year-around in Cambria. Once you get this started, you’ll always have “greens for your girls”.

If you don’t have much growing in your garden now, ask your grocery if he has some loose leaves you can take to your chickens. Be sure to save salad greens for your hens. We also keep a bale of green alfalfa in their sheltered outdoor area. It keeps them busy scratching through it when fresh greens are not available.

Just like us, chickens thrive with greens in their diet and they know what’s good for them.






Update on New Hens

18 July 2013

Ginger and Penny steal raspberries off the vines.

We’ve had our two new hens, “Ginger” and “Penny” for nearly a week. We’ve kept them in a partitioned area inside the coop and put them in the henhouse at night. They’ve learned a few things in this first week:

  1. Stay out of the way of the old hens, Daisy and Sweetpea. They mean business!
  2. All food is theirs if they want it. Give it too them.
  3. The nest boxes are more comfortable to lay an egg in than sitting on the ground.
  4. The nest boxes are also fun to roost (and poop in).
  5. If we don’t get up on the roost, Don will come out with a flashlight and put us up.
  6. The old girls get to have the prime spot to roost.
  7. Don’t get too close to the old gals or you’ll lose a feather or get pecked on the comb.
  8. Raspberries are TASTY!
  9. When Don or Lee says “chick, chick, chick” you’re going to get a treat so come running!
  10. Don and Lee love the old gals but know that we are sweet and tame too. They think we are beautiful!


Tomorrow, Friday, we’re going to see if all four hens can be together all day and have worked out their new “pecking order”. If it becomes too crazy in the coop, we’ll separate them and give it a little more time. I think they are doing pretty well. They are learning “chicken manners”.





Two New Hens!

11 July 2013

Jacob brings Ginger and Penelope to their new home.

I’m happy to announce that we have two new five-month-old pullets (young hens) that joined our tiny flock of two. Sweetpea and Daisy (last ones out of our original flock of six) are now 5 1/2 years old. Sweetpea, the barred rock, still lays 5 eggs a week. Really remarkable for an old hen. Daisy, the Buff Orpington lays 1-2 eggs a week but she pecks their shells and eats the egg inside before we can save it. I know that this “bad hen” habit would be the death of any farm hen, but Daisy is so dear to me……..

We’ve been trying to think of a way to add a couple of hens to our flock this year. As some of you know, I fell in my beloved garden and broke my hip and femur in early March. I’ve been in a wheelchair with “no weight=bearing” orders until surgery in mid August so I didn’t feel that I could raise little chicks as I’d done in the past. Our junior-high neighbor, Jacob, came to the rescue and raised three chicks for a school project. One died but the other two are now of laying age. Breeds: a Buff Orpington and a Barred Rock. “Would I like to have them?” YOU BET!

Daisy and Sweetpea jump on Don's lap and keep and eye on their new "roommates".

Of course, I’m worried about the abuse that they will have to endure as a new “pecking order” is established. Sweetpea immediately went on the attack with the little Buff Orpington. She was offended that the hen was impersonating her good friend, “Daisy”. We’ve put in a temporary fence across the coop to give the old hens a chance to adjust to their new “roommates” and give the new girls a chance to adjust to their new surroundings. Don went out after dark and put the new girls on the roost with the old gals, then went out at dawn to put them outside again before they could get picked on.

Jacob had named the barred rock “Penelope”, and the Buff Orpington, “Ginger”. We’ll keep those names. They are already  tame but they will have to learn to tolerate our “sniffing” labradoodles. Our two old girls had their “beaks bent out of shape” over these “intruders” and immediately went to sit on Don’s lap to claim their territory. Watching this transition will be hard for me as I know it is not possible for everyone to get along, especially at the beginning. Adding to an established flock takes adjustment  on everyone’s part.





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