My father loved keeping chickens and for several years we watched them run around and enjoy his company. Sadly my father passed away last year and not long after, so did the chickens; as a result of human error, the fox got a big meal and we got an empty chicken run...
The garden has felt distinctly sad and silent, missing my father and the chickens. Whenever I walked to the greenhouse to check on the fish, I missed seeing the girls. We talked of acquiring chickens through the summer and decided to get some new ones (at point of lay) just after Christmas.
Introducing our young ladies... All around 4 months old (apart from Henakin who's a bit older).
She's speckled grey... We think she's a Maran crossed with a Plymouth Rock crossed with a Rhode Island. She's supposed to lay large brown eggs, though we're pretty sure it's her laying white-blue ones!
We were told she was a little flighty and lo, within the day she'd already made her way out into the wide world of the garden... She's now had her wings clipped until we can get some netting sorted.
We think she's a white leghorn and would expect her to lay around 300-320 white eggs a year.
She's a Black Tail Red - the youngest of the girls, and quite shy. Red brown with black feathers on her tail tip (similar to the Columbian black tail).. She's expected to lay just over 300 brown eggs per year.
We think they are Gold Star which is a cross between Rhode Island Red and Light Sussex. Easy going friendly and very happy for your company.... expecting to lay 330+ brown eggs per annum.
Is likely to be a Rhode Island Cockerel crossed with a Plymouth Rock. She's supposed to be hardy and easy going but we don't know her personality yet. Hope she'll lay 290-300 brown eggs a year.
All the girls are really friendly. At first they were shy and a bit baffled by their new home and new faces. However, they've settled in, know their way in and out and get very excited when they see you coming. Their eager curiosity is fun to watch. You almost expect them to jump up and hug you!
Chickens are in essence very social. They love company and they thrive well in numbers. It seems that already after a week and a half they are beginning to establish a new social understanding. Who sits where to sleep appears to be one of the first signs. Eating wise they appear to all share nicely, but just this morning the pecking order started to show signs.
Apparently social hierarchy is complicated but as adversarial as it may appear, the pecking order is necessary. I've learned from the past that you cannot interfere - as harsh as it may appear. The chickens must establish an order and it will happen naturally so no point in trying to separate them (for age differences or serious ganging up it's a different matter). We currently have 3 sleeping groups - there's one on her own, two together and three in a group. Cliques are normal too and will eventually develop with sub-hierarchies. It's a whole new world we are keen to learn about.