Weekly Newsletter

March 2021 vol. 5



Integrating the Old Guard

Dixie Chicken Diaries

Our laying hens have made a big adjustment these last few weeks – they moved from the modest mobile coop we started with to the Dixie Chicken, our larger mobile coop. Not only were they introduced to a new home (and location on the ranch), but they were also introduced to the pullets we’d been sheltering in a chicken tractor until they were big enough to free range. Those of you familiar with poultry personalities can probably guess how this played out. 

The first day, we moved the younger hens into the Dixie Chicken in one corner of the orchard; they were pleased with the larger space and access to higher perches and seemed content. Once they were settled in, gave them a few days on their own in the new coop to acclimate before introducing the old guard. We knew moving the mature laying hens from their current pasture to the new pasture and coop was going to be a challenge - John put a lot of thought into the process, but the old guard did test his patience! 

We waited until after dark when the girls and Rocky the rooster were sleeping. It’s almost impossible to catch a chicken that doesn’t want to be caught, and we didn’t want to stress them any more than necessary. We quietly and gently moved each hen into our chicken crates using as little light as possible to keep them calm. I was the one who ended up moving Rocky the rooster into his grate, and I must admit, I was nervous. But like a true gentleman he allowed me to lift and hold him without any fuss and even leaned his head against my chest briefly. With occasional pauses to allow nervous hens to settle, gathering the 30 members of the old guard into crates took about 20 minutes. 

The transfer into the Dixie Chicken was much quicker and much more dramatic. After being released from the crates, the old guard clashed noisily with the new and battles for pecking order commenced immediately. They ended just as quickly when John doused the lights – it’s hard to fight when you can’t see. We kept all the hens inside the mobile coop for two days to give them a chance to get to know each other and their new home before releasing them back into the orchard to free range. 

The old guard wasted no time – upon release, they immediately gathered and began the march back to their old hunting grounds in the hay barn and paddock. We weren’t worried – based on previous moves, we expected the hens to return to the Dixie Chicken at dusk for shelter. They did not – and neither did the pullets. 

We spent a good hour that evening gathering chickens and reintroducing them to their new home. John had the honor of crawling under the coop to retrieve about 60 hens who had decided to roost on the axels and undercarriage of the coop. This was tricky, not only because of the copious amounts of chicken poop covering every surface, but also because it was full dark, and we couldn’t use flashlights. Too much light would rouse the hens and make them hard to catch. So, John crawled under and around the coop, groped in the dark for each pullet, then passed them to me to crate and release back into the coop. This took a good 30 minutes, and we weren’t done yet. Half of the old guard hens had decided they would rather risk sleeping in the hay barn than return to their new digs and we still had to find and relocate them. John was not pleased – he made many “bird-brain” references and even let loose a few less savory comments as well. It was an unpleasant night, and not the last one.

This process went on for two more nights with me taking my turn under the coop catching chickens.  A few more hens chose to roost in the coop each evening, but John was ready to throw in the towel and get rid of the whole flock by the third night. We finally conceded victory to the old guard hens who preferred the hay barn and were rewarded with the full compliance of the new guard and a few of the more open-minded older hens. It took 2 weeks, but we have finally regained harmony and balance on the ranch. For now… this week we will begin brooding dwarf turkeys and they, too, will join the flock in the orchard eventually – the fun never ends 😊


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This Week's Markets


PRE-ORDER ONLY Tuesday 4:30 - 5:30 pm. 


The regular market is closed - pre-order for pick up only. 


400 Immanuel Rd, Pflugerville, TX 78660

The Pflugerville Pfarmers Market is closed until further notice. We will continue to deliver pre-orders to the Pflugerville Recreation Center parking lot until the market resumes. 


The Elgin Farmers Market is a year-round market that will remain open every Thursday. Pre-orders are encouraged. 


The Taylor Farmers Market is a year-round market that will is open every Saturday. Pre-orders are encouraged. 

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Be well, 

stay safe,


John & Molly