Lesson 1096 – Houston we have an early molt


“Mom, I think one of the chickens was killed,” said Addy when I had asked her to let the chickens out of the coop.

It certainly was a possibility. We let our chickens free range which means we trust them to go back into the coop at night. Often we don’t lock the door on them until it’s dark. Early on, we had a young bird not make it to the coop in time, she was locked out and we found her remains the next day. (I still miss that little ball of fluff.)

Since then we’ve tried to be careful, but still it was entirely possible.

I went out to the coop to take a look and yes, it certainly did look like a chicken massacre had occurred. There were white feathers everywhere, and I mean *everywhere*! We don’t have many birds with pure white feathers and so I started looking around trying to figure out who was missing.

There was Jerry, Ruud, and Buttercup. They were all there. What I did notice however was that when Jerry, our Light Brahma ran by me a few feathers flew out from her bottom.

We don’t have a massacre, we have an early molt.

It’s been an odd (but thoroughly enjoyable) summer this year in New Hampshire. The temps have been moderate and here we are, in the first weeks of August having to use blankets at night and sweaters in the mornings.

Farmers will tell you that an early molt is a harbinger of a difficult winter to come. We’ve already had some very tough winters in the past few years (we regularly saw zero and below on our thermometers.) If we’re heading for a winter that’s more difficult than those, I think we all need to immediately think about dusting off our polar fleece, winter coats, and making sure our casserole and crockpots are all in working order.


As an adjunct to this post, when I went out this morning to take a photo of the feathers, I found that almost every single one had been removed. I would have liked to think that my kids (on their own) decided to spontaneously clean up our yard, but I think a more realistic explanation is that our resident wildlife population is getting ready for a harsh winter by making sure everyone in the nest has an insulated down comforter.

Hmm, maybe we are in for a wild ride this winter, after all.

Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

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4 responses to “Lesson 1096 – Houston we have an early molt

  1. We’ve got moulting hens too. It’s funny.

  2. After the winter we had I was really looking forward to a HOT summer. Yes, I am one of those (few) people who enjoy the heat. But I have seen the signs of an early winter as well. Some of the leaves on the young trees are already starting to change color. I’m getting out the crockpot now. 🙂

  3. I love the way the wildlife helped you by cleaning up the feathers. Some warm bodies will be cozy in their little burrows this winter! I remember 18 and 25 degrees below in Upstate NY in the 1970s–not fun for much but sitting by the fireside, and even that wears off pretty quickly. Hope it stays above zero for you all winter.

  4. Pingback: Lesson 1118 – Quotable Chicks | Lessons Learned from the Flock

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