On June 14, 2020 I saw an post on a local neighborhood Facebook group that caught my attention. The San Jose Animal Shelter was having Chicken Palooza, an adoption event, advertising 5 hens for free per family. The information did say that they were missing feathers and not in pristine condition. This is exactly the animals we want to adopt; to provide care, stability, and love to animals in needs.
On Friday, June 19, I sent an email to the San Jose Animal Shelter and asked to adopt 5 hens. I also offered to adopt 10 additional hens for an adoption fee. I was surprised that they called me so quickly on Saturday to let me know that we could adopt 15 hens. He said that one gentleman was coming by for 5, but he called me right back to confirm. He said he wanted them all to be gone that weekend.
I asked some questions, and he said that over 100 pullets were rescued from a hoarder house after someone called the police. The month-old chicks were crammed in small cages, so bored they pulled out each other’s feathers, and they also had to live in their own feces. He said they tried to identify the roosters by the growth of their combs. I confirmed that I would be at the shelter in a few hours to pick them up.
I jumped into action, rushing to the feed store to buy chick starter/crumble, fill the water containers and put them on lower blocks, and get more shavings. I was very excited! I thought that each hen would be in her own cardboard carrier so I worried that space was limited. Surprise! They were so small, 5 pullets were put together in a pet carrier.
It was an hour drive to the San Jose Animal Shelter, and I waited about 45 minutes at the shelter. I started this adventure at 2:30pm and got home at 5:30pm, taking the back roads to avoid freeway, beach traffic. At the farm, I put their carriers inside the hen house, opening the doors, and letting them venture out at their own pace. The older girls came out first, and they had so much fun just bathing in the shavings.
Videos on the Love Creek Farm Youtube Channel:
- Video of the girls come out of their carriers
- Video of the girls, Part II, dust baths in the shavings
When they ventured into the coop, a few continued their dust baths.
They definitely bonded as a group, but are also determining pecking order.
I realized that I had to engage them and keep them busy to distract from the previous experience of pulling feathers. I decided that feeding them a variety of fruits and vegetables would promote health and growth. The first thing I did was string watermelon, corn, lettuce, and cabbage. They don’t like cabbage, even cut up.
Then, I luckily located a box of rotting fruit which I also strung up.
To learn more and find other healthy treats, I stopped at our local feed store; experts in chicken care. I showed photos of the pullets to the owner, and she said they were older than a month, more like 6 weeks, but different ages. She provided wonderful advice of checking their crop, feeling each side of their breast bone for growth, identifying a rooster, feeding them fresh garden herbs, etc. I bought lots of dried worms, flax seed, and this Chickie Garden Picnic blend, which they love.
On their first night in the coop, they did not go inside the hen house. We checked on them around 7:30pm and noticed them in a huddle. We picked them up one by one and put them inside the hen house. We lock them up every night around 8:00pm. They go inside by themselves now, it’s follow the leader. At 7:45am, they are let out into the coop with a delicious breakfast. Besides chick start/crumble, they are fed fresh veggies and fruit, dried worms, weeds/herbs, and/or bread three times a day, and they are growing fast.
Week 2: June, 2020
Week 3: July 1, 2020
My system has improved as I’m figuring out our new routine. My friend had a truck load of stuff, and I picked out a nice, rolling ice chest. I lock up their fruit/veggies inside of it outside their coop. I also moved my potting bench to use as a work table with various containers and holders. Instead of using bending aluminum pans, I luckily scored a huge metal pan which is perfect.
Every night, I clean up all the pieces of rinds, tomato skins, corn cobs, etc. to prevent rat infestations. I noticed that a lot of the bread crusts and other parts dried out quick so I soaked the bread in water, and they love it. I’m so glad it is not wasted, and it gets them to drink water too.
After I collect all the leftovers, I put them in my worm bins. I organized this area in my studio after I moved out my potting bench, and I bought a worm bin on craigslist (3 bins were given to me). The liquid worm poop is collected, liquid gold!
Then, I aerate the worm poop for 24 hours to build microbes, diluting with water in a 5 gallon bucket. I put it in my sprayer, and the garden is energized. I feel strongly about this full circle system: from vegetable back to vegetable to feed ourselves and the animals!
We’ll continue to document the health and growth of these beautiful, rescue babies!
Week 4: around July 11, 2020
I sent some of these shots to a woman I met on FB to see if she could identify their breeds, but she could not. She did say that the long legged hens might be Asian breeds, known as Jungle fowl. We’ll just have to wait and see.
I made them a swing from a locust branch, but they haven’t used it yet. Even bread with pnut butter and seeds did not entice them to try it.
Week 5: July 18, 2020
I’m keeping my eye on the two black girls because they are shimmering blue and purple. They are all very pretty. They are also very friendly to me, some sit on my leg, jump on my back, and they will eat out of my hands.