Saturday, November 4, 2017

Meet the Flock

After the sad end of my last chicken flock in Nova Scotia, about 4 years ago, it took a long time for me to be in a position to acquire chickens again. I really missed having chickens - they have wonderful personalities and they bring me a lot of joy. Apart from that, I also enjoy having fresh eggs. This summer I was able to pay somebody to remodel a former dog house into a chicken coop. The dog house was well built and had a very sturdy roof, so I thought it would be ideal to re-use for a coop, but it needed to be taller so I could get in and out for cleaning. After that was completed, it was just a matter of finding a few interesting birds to bring into the new digs!

I thought it would be fun to blog about the flock members that have made their home with us so far. Our first group of chickens were silkies, brown layers, and a random bantam. They came from a farm that wasn't taking very good care of them and they were very soiled and smelly when they arrived, and I don't think the silkies and bantam had ever been outside of cages. I am glad they are with us now!

Licorice is a black silkie hen who just began to lay last month. She is the dominant one of the three silkies and is also the most adventurous. She has lustrous black feathers and is quick to do the squatting hen dance when I approach (she thinks I'm the rooster). She lays a small cream-coloured egg.

is a "splash" silkie hen, which means that she is white with a spattering of black feathers throughout her plumage. She is a little younger than Licorice, and was in rather rough shape when she first arrived - very lethargic and not showing much interest in food. She is now much more normal in her foraging behaviour and has just started the squatting hen dance, which means she may start to lay eggs soon, but because of the time of year and the shorter day length, she may not do so until spring.

Dazzle is a blue silkie hen, who arrived with Licorice and Whisp. She was also extremely timid and not well socialized when she arrived. Like Whisp, she needed an immediate bath when she arrived because she was very dirty. She is still not laying yet. She is a really lovely colour and I hope that she'll become more brave over time.

None of the silkie hens seem capable of perching to sleep, unlike the other hens. They all huddle on the floor of the coop, which is a bit odd. I put a low perch in place for them and have sat them on it numerous times but they still prefer the floor.

Sienna arrived with the silkies from the same not-very-good home. She is a bantam sized hen of mixed heritage and I have no idea what breeds are in her, but she is assertive and somewhat more aggressive than most of the hens. She is second in the pecking order from what I can determine, and will be quick to put another hen in its place, even if it is a larger hen! She is very fast and flighty - hard to take good pictures of her. She lays a white egg nearly every day. She's also very vocal about her eggs.

is a red hen of unknown breed, but she might have some Rhode Island Red in her heritage - she has a real mix of brown feather tones. She is what some people would just call a "brown layer" because she's a standard size brown egg layer. She is definitely the flock queen and number one in the pecking order. She lays a nice brown egg almost every day.

Juniper Moon is very similar to Marigold in appearance, but virtually opposite in personality. They came from the same farm as Sienna and the silkies, but I think they had been allowed outside before, because they knew how to forage, whereas the others didn't. Juniper Moon has an old eye injury and is either blind in one eye, or has very limited sight. She can get up to the roosts to sleep but she was having real trouble with getting down, and every morning I was helping her down so she could eat and drink. My Dad helped make a ramp that she now uses. I think her vision problems make it difficult for her to judge distances. Juniper Moon likes to sit on my lap sometimes.

Not long after the above team of hens arrived, I acquired another pair of hens.

Jellybelly is a tiny black serama hen who is a little over 1.5 years old. She has excellent stance and looks like a little show hen. She was in the flock of a breeder that bred show hens but who folded operations. She was being picked on by the larger hens at her former home, so her owner was seeking a new home for her where she would be comfortable.

arrived with Jellybelly, and her name suits her colour! She is a very elegant little serama hen who came from the same original breeder. Both she and Jellybelly are about the size of pigeons. So far, they haven't laid any eggs, but I think the move and the time of year are to blame. I hope they both will lay eggs in the spring. Tiny serama eggs are very cute for hard boiled eggs on salads.

Flavia arrived not long after Jellybelly and Cream - she is also a serama hen, but slightly larger than the other two. She is named after Flavia de Luce, the young sleuth heroine of the series of books by Alan Bradley. She also hasn't laid any eggs, yet. At this time of year with the short day length, I expect she won't lay until spring.

The most recent additions to the flock came just about 3 weeks ago.

Wellington is a cream legbar rooster. The cream legbar is a fairly rare breed and I am excited to have him. He is an exceedingly mellow rooster who is about 4.5 months old and he is just learning to crow. He seems to love sitting on my lap and stretches his head out along my arm and closes his eyes when I pet him. The serama hens chase him and he runs away, so he's not very assertive yet, but he will probably grow into his rooster-ness in time.Unfortunately he contracted a respiratory infection and has been on antibiotics for the past 4 days, and has been kept indoors on quarantine as a result. He is on the mend and should go back with the flock soon. Meantime, he also likes to sit on my shoulder while I work!

His tail feathers were pulled out by the other roosters at his former home so he needs to grow them back again!

Wellington arrived with a cream legbar hen who is just beautiful. I am still trying to figure out her name. She is elegant and dainty, but assertive. She will lay pale blue eggs when she starts to lay, which isn't yet, and may not be until spring. She has a crest of feathers on her head that give her a very dignified look, as if she is wearing a fancy hat. She might need a sort of royal sounding name, like Charlotte or Clementine, or maybe even Anastasia.

Wellington also arrived with this darling little maran hen. Unfortunately, I have no idea what kind of maran she is. She was an extra hatching egg that was included in the batch that the seller purchased, but her exact type wasn't provided - it was just labeled as a maran egg. As a maran, she will most likely lay a darker brown egg. To be honest, she doesn't really look like any of the maran breeds that the originating egg farm (Greenfire Farm in Florida) raises, so she is a bit of a mystery. We'll see how she looks as she gets older. She also needs a name.

I would be remiss if I did not mention Sergeant Pepper, a splash silkie rooster who originally arrived with the initial group of silkies. He sadly lost his life to a hawk, which prompted me to stop allowing free ranging of the hens, and next spring I will build some chicken tunnels to allow them to run around other areas of the yard, but for now they stay in the fenced and covered area around the coop. Sergeant Pepper was very good at taking care of his hens, but he was a very aggressive rooster who attacked my ankles daily and would charge at me at the slightest opportunity. I was trying to work on helping him understand I wasn't a threat, but I didn't have the time to finish that task. I thank him for defending the flock and helping keep the layers unharmed.


Michelle said...

Lovely profiles of your pretty flock!

Crazy Lady with purple fingers said...

Loved the pictures of your flock and the names they have, I had some silkies and Bantams at one time, loved the beautiful silkies. I had the white and black and would have loved getting a....they called it a blue silkie, sort of a grey/blue color.

thecrazysheeplady said...

I just love chickens, especially silkies :-). Congrats on your lovely new flock!

Gattina said...

I love the fluffy chicken and am happy that they have a good home now. Chicken are very intelligent, and good company too. Unfortunately where I live although we have all gardens we are only allowed to have cats, dogs, guinea pigs and husbands (lol)

Lin said...

Oh, they are beautiful! I'm glad that you gave them a better home. I hope they can all get along nicely. It sounds as if chickens and roosters have a complicated social ladder!