Wednesday, 2 October 2013

How do you solve a problem like Yoko?!

Firstly, thank you SO much to everyone who was kind enough to leave such detailed cat care comments on Daughter's blog post at the weekend about our frugal kitten preparations. We read all of the comments thoroughly, found them really useful and are already putting some of your tips into practice!

Cute kittens are all very well (and there will be more of them) but I did promise news of our lonely chicken. I'm hoping that maybe the chicken owners out there will have as much advice up their sleeves as the cat owners.

Ginger and Yoko pictured with Son's Lego Minifigure Chicken!

For a long time we kept four happy and well-loved chickens on our allotment; the delightful Clara Cluck, Ginger, Chandi and Yoko. They pecked and scratched contentedly in their coop, making efficient use of our food waste, and that of our neighbours, and they more than paid their way by making use of a shady part of our allotment that has never been very fruitful and by laying lots of eggs. 

Clara Cluck was the first to shuffle off this mortal coil. After a deceptive recovery from being egg bound (painful!), she made her way to the great chicken coop in the sky. Chandi the black chicken was the next to join her following an eye problem that wouldn't resolve.

Ginger and Yoko (pictured above) eased into a comfortable co-existence for a year and a half, keeping us in precisely enough eggs for all our culinary needs (and obliging when Son wanted to do a photoshoot with them and his Lego minifigure chicken).

This summer poor Ginger, who had been taking things slowly for a week or so but appeared well, stepped out of the hen house and keeled over one morning, right in front of Husband's very eyes.

That leaves the lonely white-feathered Yoko. Dear old Yoko. Now she lives by herself in a coop and abode of very generous proportions for a single chicken, looking hopefully to the jackdaws for friendship (they pop in to the coop to steal the occasional crust of bread) and greeting us warmly when we visit her.

How do you solve a problem like Yoko? Chickens are not solitary creatures. They thrive in a flock but we don't want to replenish our flock until we have refurbished the coop and the henhouse, and given the land a rest. Besides there can be issues with introducing new chickens to an old bird like Yoko.

We've thought about giving her away, but a nearly four year old, non-laying chicken is not an attractive prospect to other chicken owners, and it would probably not be fair on her to try and introduce her into an established flock.

So experienced chicken owners, what should we do?


11 comments:

  1. I'm not sure you would want to hear my solution!!

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  2. My husband would mutter about chicken soup or stew but I keep wanting to keep my old girls because they are old (literally) friends. At her age and with winter coming, Yoko may well solve the dilemma herself...

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    1. I'm sure soup or stew would be the proper smallholder solution but it's not for us! She's fit and healthy at the moment so showing no signs of going anywhere...

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  3. I have not raised chickens, but the unmentionable is what comes to mind first. Good luck finding a solution.

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  4. If you ask around you might be surprised- I used to know a lady who had a flock made up of odd chickens other people didn't want.
    Otherwise, I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for her to solve the problem! Two of my chickens died this summer.....aged 9 1/2 and 7 1/2....

    Could you borrow a smaller coop/house to put her into so that you can refurbish/move the coop? You could then put new chickens into the big house with Yoko in her smaller run next to it for a couple of weeks (so they can see each other). This usually makes the eventual amalgamation of old and new birds fairly painless.

    If you leave things as they are, just make sure she doesn't get too cold by herself in the large house at night.

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    1. We'd been thinking that downsizing the coop was probably the best option. Your old chickens must have been very happy birds to last that long!

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  5. When we got down to one chicken we got 2 more and everyone settled in fairly quickly. If you are on facebook there is a wonderful group called 'Down the lane' who give fantastic advice and may be able to help (if someone lives in your area) with rehoming if that's the avenue you want to take. Fran :-)

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    1. Thanks for the advice and the Down the Lane link - I will check it out!

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  6. Could someone foster her for you while you refurbished her pad? Then you could try and introduce her to some new mates in a flash new home. I can imagine some kind soul may be interested in a short term chicken pet - if only because they are interested in getting a chicken but are nervous about making the leap to full time ownership without trialling it first. hmmm perhaps that's just me.

    It's amazing how caring for small creatures can be so stressful with pitfalls you never imagined when you first adopted them. Good luck solving your problem in a non chicken stew direction.

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