Changing of the Guard

October 6, 2014
Fluffy our Easter Egger

It’s hard to believe that in a blink of an eye, the babies are turning 18 weeks today.

I’ve spent sometime watching them all morph into a flock. Most of the girls are now all roosting side by side. No longer are the flocks separated on the far sides of the roosts when they sleep. Fifi, our Silkie, is no longer trying to control the little chickens’ moves. Most of the babies are now double Fifi’s size. These days we rarely get eggs. The old girls are definitely in henopause and seem happy to live out their sweet lives with the little ones. I think there is something about having multiple generations under one roof.

This past week however, I noticed the biggest change. It seems that Sunshine has stepped down from her flock role as guard hen. I thought that this was subtly happening. Sunshine is almost 5 years old and certainly a young whippersnapper like Fluffy can fill the role. Fluffy spends most of her day on the stump or on the upcycled ladder keeping one eye on the sky. Every once in a while she will step down, patrol the perimeter, take a nibble to eat, and return to her position. The entire flock respects Fluffy’s new role. When she sounds the alarm, everyone freezes and waits for the all clear. It’s truly amazing to see this changing of the guard. The torch has been passed. Fluffy is the new guard chicken and Sunshine is content spending her days napping in either the big dust bowl in the corner or perched on one of the outside roosts.

You see, there are lessons to be learned. Things to be taught. Mistakes shared so they are not repeated. Encouragement from those who have been where the younger ones are now. Everything seems to flow. The old girls have been wonderful teachers to the new girls. I think it’s nice when someone or some chicken is there to guide you.

It’s a rare thing these days seeing old people and old chickens living with their younger counterparts. Old folks are institutionalized and old chickens end up in the soup pot. Their value is not visible on the outside. They are frail. They move slow. They require more care. They are retired from what society values as productive- work and eggs. However, sometimes the lessons and stories shared from these later years in life are more than we can ever grasp in our own lifetimes.

guard hen

Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest


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6 thoughts on “Changing of the Guard”

  1. SO TRUE!! !!
    When I started back to keeping Chickens… I selected the "Bantam Cochin Breed…" I had RIR's as a kid before I left for the military for 23yrs…
    3 Years ago, I got 2 sister hens that were 2 1/2 yrs of age… I call them the Crone Sisters.. both Rule Equally… I also got 1 6month hen and the other was 3month old…
    My intent was to Stagger their ages, add a few each year, so that the older one's, once they slack off on laying as much, they would at least teach the younger girls…
    I am now up to 11 hens and 1 roo… in my 3rd Year…
    The Crone Sisters still Rule the Coop.. even the Roo bows down too them 🙂
    However.. I have noticed something too.. My Coop Gate Guard is now changing… My Blue Bantam Cochin Hen who always did the nightly Call to come to bed is now being helped out by my tiny Lemon/Blue Bantam Cochin Hen… and some nights… the Lemon/Blue takes over letting my Blue Bantam to retire early for the night 🙂
    It is well to have a Age Staggered Flock.. the younger ones LEARN from the older girls.. Which means a higher survival rate I do so believe… 🙂 So far, all is well… 🙂
    ~Caput Roo on FB…

  2. I am so glad you value your older flock members. My oldest hen died this past spring, she was 15 years old and I really miss her. She napped more, puttered around the yard and passed on one night in her sleep. She had a long life, 🙂


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