Ruby gets her way…again

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This is Ruby tonight at bed time, all snuggled into her straw. I know she’s thinking, “I’m just gonna stay here from now on.”

Last night, I had a dream Ruby died, that she was bullied to death by the rest of the flock. I have no idea why I had that particular dream, but I have been having a variety of anxiety dreams all week. In this dream about Ruby, I went outside, and the chickens were all in the snow and had killed Ruby. Rooster was standing back watching it all, and I was like, “Rooster, why didn’t you help?” And then I woke up.

This morning, Ron and I did final rounds of prep for the chickens and ducks. He lined the walls of the duck house with straw, and I picked up any spots of chicken poop, made sure the coop was super clean and dry, and then added nearly a whole extra bale of straw. That coop was fluffy.

When I first went out to put in the food, Ruby tried to escape through the front door as she usually does in the mornings. But I wouldn’t let her out. “Not today, Ruby,” I said. “It’s too cold today.”

She tried again when I went to get the water. I stopped her with my boot, and I could tell she was quite upset over this. I figured she was just going to have to be tough today, and I dismissed my dream, deciding I could not let an anxiety dream dictate my decision making. It was hard though when I saw her try to eat and get pecked on the head by Circe, who is Ruby’s exact age but clearly above her in the pecking order. Poor Ruby is so low on that pecking order, and I just don’t know why. Some people just never fit in, I guess.

When I finished spreading and fluffing the straw, I saw a hen with her head so far in the corner I couldn’t recognize her. She had her head down so low and cornered and was trembling. When I went to pick her up, she didn’t fuss a bit, so I was surprised to find it was poor little Ruby.

I feel this is an important side story to tell: Normally, when I pick up Ruby, she acts like she is going to certainly die. She screams and fusses. I am always and forever just trying to help her or get her put up, and I know she knows me well because she will follow me around for treats. But as soon as I touch her, she acts like it is the end of the world. I feel terrible because I am sure everyone within a mile thinks I am abusing my chickens.

Today, when I picked her up from that corner, she just put her little head on my arm and went along for the ride. She didn’t make a peep.

I took her to the garage, but even the garage was cold. I had to go back out into the cold, get a dog crate, go get more straw, fill it up, and then get it into the garage between our cars. I got her fresh food, water, scratch, and even brought her cornbread several times today. Each time, the temperature in the garage seemed okay, as did Ruby. My original plan was to put her back into the coop tonight to sleep with the flock, but Ron said, “why don’t you just let her stay in the garage tonight.” And then I told him about my dream, and we agreed that Ruby could stay in the garage for a few days until this cold spell breaks. Plus, she is just finishing her molt, so she just barely has all of her feathers back.

When I went out to check on her at bedtime to make sure she was snuggled up in her straw, she was there. So content. She talked to me in a such a sweet voice. I love that chicken. I am honestly not sure how much she is playing me or if she is just a deep feeler, which makes her seem kind of dramatic. Some people just feel everything so deeply that they come across as being melodramatic. Maybe that’s just who Ruby is. Either way, she has my heart, and I am glad to give her her way.

PS Right now, it is -16 but feels like -40. When I went out to give the ducks their bedtime peas, I couldn’t get the door latched with my gloves on. So, for just a second, I took off my glove and touched the metal latch. I have apparently been frost nipped. It hurts quite a bit, but I read it will stop hurting in a day or so. I can’t believe it happened that fast. If you’re in Maine and reading this, be safe out there. Don’t take off your gloves. And stay as cozy as you can.

5 thoughts on “Ruby gets her way…again

  1. Oh boy this is some cold weather! I’m glad you could keep Miss Ruby safe and comfortable. She MUST love you back. 💕
    This is a learning curve for my daughter/partner and their flock…. thank you for taking the time to share your experience and knowledge. I’m sure it helped some chickens in ME. 😁
    We have sea smoke on the water this morning. This happens when there is a big difference in temperature between the water and the air. It is really very beautiful!
    I will be indoors with the woodstove cooking all day today. I plan on making chili, cornbread and doing some rughooking.
    Stay safe and keep your gloves on!
    The chickens will be able to come out to play tomorrow. 👏


  2. Pat, I just read an article about the sea smoke in Maine! I so wish to see it! And thank you for these kind words. I am happy to report that Ruby and the whole gang were fine this morning. They definitely want out to play, but, as you said, tomorrow…


  3. Oh my Goodness ……
    I had Banty’s and Loved them dearly ….. one night a coyote killed all 4 of my sweet hens and rooster and I was devastated ( I do Not use that word lightly ). We live on a 60 acre farm in the hills of Kentucky …… and I have never gotten used to ” death on the farm “.
    That was 3 years ago …. so for Mother’s Day, my husband overhaul the coop and made it very safe ( as it can be ) but said I only only have full size hens ……. so I bought 4 hens and a rooster. I SWORE I would not get attached to these chickens …… that lasted about a week !!!! They are the sweetest Gals …..
    One morning in December, I went to take them their breakfast and found Patsy dead …… and was again devastated. I went in the house crying, heartbroken, as she was my favorite sweet girl.
    For Christmas a good friend of mine came to work and told me to meet her outside …. …. she had bought me a hen for Christmas !!!!! I was stunned and overjoyed !!!! I rushed her home and put her in the coop with the others as it was dusk and they were going up to roost.
    and that was my Introduction to ” the Pecking Order ” and it was Horrible. I had NO idea that this was something that they really did ….. and when I saw sweet Holly in the corner with her head down ….. I was sobbing. I called the Gal that my friend had gotten Holly from and told her I was bringing her back as my Girls were being horrible to her. Kristen kinda chuckled ( she has 100 chickens that she does not name or feed oatmeal and special treats to every morning ) and said ” Barb , give them some time and they will work it out ….. which they have, thankfully.
    Please tell Ruby Holly says Hi from Kentucky ……..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Barb, oh my gosh! I get this completely about getting attached. After I lost my dear Poe (an Easter Egger) to ovarian cancer, I swore I would not let myself get attached so much again. But they ALWAYS win me over. I have a few, in addition to Ruby, that I am far too attached too. But they just have my heart.

      And I am so glad your flock worked it out with a new girl. We have a pretty chill flock, except for one girl–Penelope, and she can be so, so mean. When we go through the process of introducing new babies each year, I have to watch her the most!


      1. Thank You …..
        It was Such a shock that a friend gifted me a chicken !!!!! Holly is a light brahma and Beautiful and soooooooo sweet, so to see her pecked was horrible !!!!! I have since learned how to introduce a new hen WAY better !!!!!!
        People who do not have chickens simply do not ” get it ” but their personalities are Fabulous !!!!! I thought mine were so sweet until watching them with Holly ….. but again was told by the sweetest Gal …. that not only had my lead hen, Patsy died, I had also introduced a new hen …… so ” the Pecking Order ” became very real.
        It is just very hard to watch ……. I am so glad that they are all friends now :0)


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