Last week my fur child, Nala, was joined by three new feather children. These are my first chickens, which is all rather exciting. I had a hard time deciding what breeds to get, and decided on three different purebreds, as I like their colours and their nice natures, and they will lay eggs for longer than commercial hybrids will, even if not quite so many a year. What I have is 1 blue Orpington, 1 blue Australorp and 1 Barred Plymouth Rock, all pullets currently around 11-14 weeks old. Their names have now been decided upon. They were inclining towards a different direction, but since I kept calling my Orpington “The fat one”, The Husband suggested I call her Sam and her same-coloured Australorp buddy Frodo. That made sense to me. Then the Plymouth Rock quickly became Strider, since she has a rather decisive stride, with her long, yellow legs and long neck sticking out. Yes, I know they’re all boys names, but too bad. They work!
We had to do a bit of work to tidy up the chicken coop. It is an open-topped, fenced pen, with an apple tree in the middle. There was plastic netting around the fences to cover the gaps, but it was all floppy and falling off, so I got some chicken wire and fence staples and The Husband did a great job putting two stories of it all around the pen. Now we just need to make some better gates to replace the current one, which is a bit low and is dysfunctional to open. Climbing over it is probably not a long-term solution for a pregnant woman. I also want to put in some netted plants for nibbling, when I figure out what would be good for the chickens. The soil was a bit all over the place, so I used a hoe to make it more level and we put some bark from the garden in there to help dry out the ground and to give the chickens something to scratch around in.
I’ve been trying to figure out what their pecking order is. They hadn’t been together that long when I got them; Strider was a late edition to the party after the pullet that was originally intended for me had to be replaced due to developing a lump before I picked them up. I assume the blue mark on her is because she was originally marked out for a different order. Strider was pecked a bit at first, however, she now appears to be the boss, as she is the first to eat from the feeder every morning. She has a very curious nature and likes to stride around checking everything out with her beady eyes. Frodo appears fairly quiet and about her own business and doesn’t stay still for long. She is the smallest at the moment. Sam is a bit slow and spazzy sometimes, being the last one to get the hang of going up the ramp into the hen house. When she runs it is hilarious, as she rocks from side to side and fluffs her feathers around. She is a very avid scratcher. I’m not quite sure which one is the second-in-command yet. Sometimes I think it’s Frodo, but I don’t know if that’s just because Sam is slow. We shall see. They all seem happy with each other anyway, and they all snuggle up together in one of hen house nesting boxes at night.
I love the different noises they make, especially the little murmers they make when I give them a pile of greens in the afternoon, the way they try to catch flying bugs and the way they put themselves to bed in the evening if I don’t come out to shut the hen house soon enough. They have grown already and I can’t wait until they start laying eggs. Here’s to a life with chickens.