Remember Penguin? She remains my favorite hen, even though she briefly went through a hormonal phase where she thought was a rooster. Because she started crowing early in the morning, last December she was exiled over to my friend’s flock across the street. Click here to read my post about having to banish her to Elba. For the last eight months, she has been a model citizen in K’s backyard flock, never once crowing or complaining. However, she did manage to make her way up toward the top of the flock hierarchy. Fortunately, K’s top hen, a LF red star, is much bigger than charismatic little Penguin. Penguin went from being the “newcomer outcast” to eventually establishing herself as #2 in the flock . K jokingly referred to Penguin as “Napoleon” because despite her little size, Penguin has a confident personality and would have moved herself into the top hen position if she could of.
Along with three other hens at K’s house, Penguin went broody in early July this summer. K gave each of them a half dozen or so fertile Silkie eggs and almost all of them hatched. Her coop and run was blanketed with adorable baby Silkie chicks and four proud but protective momma hens. Unfortunately, with four momma hens, each with their own chicks and only one separate brood pen, and five other adult chickens, there was a lot of drama in the chicken yard and lots of squabbles. K felt it was necessary to sell one broody along with a bunch of babies. K also mentioned she might sell Penguin since out of the remaining three mamma hens, she is the oldest. Ugh Oh! So, of course, I had to offer to let Penguin raise a couple of her chicks at my house.
So, in early August, Penguin returned to Hanbury House with two baby Silkie chicks, a partridge and a black that my daughter, B, picked out. B has been wanting a Silkie. Unfortunately, this brought our flock size up to ten chickens, and that was going to get me in really hot water with my hubby who doesn’t want “a chicken hoarder” for a wife. Therefore, to make room, four Cochin pullets from two of our Spring hatches went to a nice couple in Newport Beach back bay where they now live on a large horse property with five other hens and a couple of roosters. It sounded like they would be very happy and spoiled there.
Penguin is as sweet and as friendly as ever and is being an excellent mommy, just like I remembered. I especially like that with every clutch she has raised, she has always allowed us to handle her chicks as much as we want.
Initially, Penguin needed a little time and space to readjust to living in our flock. She and her tiny brood were temporarily housed for four weeks in the rabbit hutch coop over in the side yard under the grapes. The little family slowly integrated into our flock during free range time in the yard. There were a few minor squabbles initially; Penguin was chasing the other hens off and keeping them as far away from her two Silkie chicks as possible.
The only bad thing happened one night in Penguin’s second week back, when I accidentally didn’t get home before dusk. Penguin could get in and out of the rabbit hutch okay, but the babies can’t get back in as easily. Penguin was familiar with the other coop, and marched her babies in there and settled in to a nest box with them. When I got home, I was dismayed to find that Penguin and the other hens must have had a battle about the new additions emigrating to the big coop because everybody except the chicks all had a couple of cuts on their combs. I felt so guilty and bad for them.
Within three weeks, it started to look like everyone had adjusted okay. And Penguin (aka Napoleon) quickly reestablished her place at the top of the pecking order. She and her babies already have taken over the favorite location on the roost. I am keeping my fingers crossed that when she weans the chicks of her care, she doesn’t start crowing again. I would hate to have to send her back to K’s house to be with the large fowl flock.
On a side note…the Silkie chicks are super cute. They never seemed to loose that cute fuzzy look. But a down side of that cuteness is I have absolutely no clue yet as to gender even now at 2 months old. From what I have been told, three months is the earliest we will be able to tell the sexes.