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My Feathered and Fowl Flock of Free-Ranging Chickens

  1. K-12 Chickens
    My very first chickens I ever got was in 2010 from some friends with extra pullets from a hatchery order: 2 Buff Orpingtons, 2 ISA Browns, 2 Silver-Laced Wyandottes, 1 California Grey Leghorn and 1 Ameraucana. The Orpingtons, Wyandottes, and ISA Browns are still around today. In 2011, I added a Black Star pullet and in 2012, raised 5 Barred Plymouth Rocks and 5 Cherry Eggers (1 of the Cherry Eggers disappeared and the other died last month or so of a possibly internally-laid egg). This year, I added an Easter Egger rooster (Big Moe) in January and am currently raising 4 Silkies, 3 Ameraucanas, 1 Mille Fleur d'Uccle, 1 Porcelain d'Uccle and 9 Cornish Rocks.
    I free-range my chickens and have one coop for the older hens (two pullets are sleeping in this coop; I don't know why) and another coop for the pullets and rooster (and any new additions).

    Here is the flock!

    Grasshopper
    Buff Orpington
    About 3 years old
    The Queen of the Coop (or both coops, actually). Her name comes from her seemingly insatiable appetite for grasshoppers. She will even follow me around during the summer when I sometimes catch grasshoppers for her.
    As of now, Grasshopper hasn't submitted to Big Moe and treats him like any low-ranking hen, obviously using his inexperience in dealing with stubborn hens against him. No hens ever try to challenge Grasshopper for top position, even though Orpingtons have always been considered "docile and easily bullied" by feistier breeds.
    Her eggs are medium-sized and a warm brown.
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    Goldie
    Buff Orpington
    About 3 years old
    A sweet girl Goldie is. Her clucking is a series of soft quiet notes.

    But do not let this fool you.

    If I dare not let her out in the morning as soon as she demands, she lets the whole world know by her loud, repetitive squawking, so much that she rivals the noise level of a rooster crow. Speaking of roosters, Goldie won't submit to Big Moe either.
    One of Goldie's absolute favorite activities is to forage in a long stretch of wet leaves filled with worms, grubs, snails and anything else that suits her fancy.
    Her eggs are medium-sized and a warm pinkish-brown.
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    Red--deceased
    ISA Brown
    About 3 years old
    Red was the ultimate bread lover. When I say she liked bread, I mean, she really liked bread. While attempting to chug down a large piece of the stuff, she'd still run after other pieces I throw out for the rest of the flock. Another favorite is canned cat food, fed during molts and as an
    occasional treat. When I put some on a plate and set it out for the flock (who by now is swarming around my feet), Red would almost literally dive in, holding her wings out slightly to block others from getting their share.
    As far as personality, Red used to be more on the aggressive side when she was younger, but became more docile, especially since the arrival of Big Moe.
    On May 7, 2013, Red passed away suddenly. I found her dead, and will never know what caused her to die.
    Her eggs were large and a rich brown color.
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    Velvet
    ISA Brown
    About 3 years old
    Velvet is the only hen in the flock with a spur on her right leg (a sharp one, at that!). I have never seen her use it for attack or defense, but just pressing my finger on the tip shows me what damage it could do. Velvet is similar in personality to Red, but tends to be more alert and has a distinctly different voice.
    Her eggs (lays occasionally) are very large--sometimes I can't even close the carton--and are a pale brown.
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    Jenny
    Silver-Laced Wyandotte
    About 3 years old
    Jenny and Bawk Bawk Betty used to have horribly picked backs, tails and butts, no matter what I did. Thankfully now, both hens have fully- feathered backs, tails and butts, though Betty is beginning to show signs of picking on her back again. Jenny is always aggressive to new additions to the flock and Big Moe is no exception. Any of his attempts to flirt with her are immediately ended with Jenny's Kung Fu-like kicks and jumps.
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    (Grasshopper in background)
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    Bawk Bawk Betty (Betty for short)
    Silver-Laced Wyandotte
    About 3 years old
    Betty is a feisty hen like Jenny, but has a sweet side to her. If you imitate her clucks, which are a series of "beeps" and "bops", she'll respond to you. A distinguishing mark between Betty and Jenny is that Betty's lacing on her head is mostly white, while the feathers on the rest of her body are predominantly black. Jenny is more even in the coloring of her lacing and has a redder comb, wattles and face.
    Betty has almost never laid eggs and only did so when she was a pullet.
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    Blackie
    Black Star
    About 2 years old
    Blackie has to be the spunkiest hen I've ever had. Even as a pullet, Blackie was her own girl and didn't listen to this nonsense of being kept in a quarantine run. She wanted to explore and nobody was going to stop her from doing it!
    After that phase, Blackie began to think nest boxes were overrated and began to lay in different places. After she figured out what a goldmine the garage was for nesting places, Blackie trained us to open one of the garage car doors by walking around on the front porch and looking in the French doors. Two of her most comical nesting spots was using grill instructions as nesting material on an old bag and in a wheelbarrow (every time she laid an egg, it would roll to the other side). Her present spot for nesting in the garage is a tote filled to the brim with loose straw.
    Her eggs are large and a pale brown.
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    (Blackie and Dino Chick nesting together in a tote)
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    Falcon
    Barred Plymouth Rock
    About 9 months old
    Falcon was so named for the fact that she perched on my fist as a chick (still does today, even though she's a big girl), which is where a hawk or falcon perches on a falconer. She also trained the other chicks on how to escape the brooder and leave a mess for me to clean up.
    Today, Falcon likes to jump up on the arm of a green lawn chair when me or someone else sits down, further proceeding to climb onto the lucky victim's lap, all the while pecking at pants, coats, buttons and zippers.
    Her eggs are medium-sized and are a light pinkish-brown with white speckles.
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    Dino Chick
    Barred Plymouth Rock
    About 9 months old
    Dino Chick was one of the first pullets to get her "adult chicken voice" when she was a chick--not surprising since she uses it loudly and frequently at the present time. One of her unique traits as a chick was the large amount of white on top of her head, making her stand out from the others. Even now, her head and neck are overall lighter than the other Barred Rocks.
    Eggs are medium-sized and a pale brown.
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    Curly
    Barred Plymouth Rock
    About 9 months old
    One of Curly's favorite hobbies is to chase cats, squirrels and ground-feeding birds. She and the other pullets did so a lot more when they were younger, even approaching larger targets such as a yearling deer that was lucky enough to wander across the road and into the yard. The pullets checked it out, even threatening to peck it. The deer responded by sometimes playfully kicking, leaping and leaning its head close to one of the investigating pullets. Unfortunately, I did not have my camera handy.
    One of Curly's quirks is never being able to decide who to roost next to and will pace back and forth until I place her up on the roost or finally deciding herself.
    Egg size and color are unknown by me, since I don't always see who is laying what.
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    Green Messy Face
    Barred Plymouth Rock
    About 9 months old
    When Green Messy Face arrived as a chick, she had green, gooey chick gel on the corner of her beak, somehow causing my younger brothers to start nicknaming her as "Green Messy Face". It stuck, even though any trace of the gel is long gone.
    Green Messy Face has always had some sort of vision or depth perception problem, as when she goes to peck something, she touches or scrapes the object with her beak just before pecking. She also "pecks" the water in a black rubber bowl I use for the waterer rather than gracefully touching her beak to it.
    Her personality is curious and sweet, always walking over to me when I'm taking pictures.
    Green Messy Face's eggs are medium-sized and have white speckles (I think).
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    Roxanne
    Barred Plymouth Rock
    About 9 months old
    When Roxanne was a chick, she had two white "eyebrows", further adding to her cute appearance. Her barring is darker than the others and her comb has a weird "flop" towards the base.
    Egg size and color unknown.
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    Gryphon
    Cherry Egger
    About 9 months old
    Gryphon was the largest and lankiest chick of the whole batch, fooling me into thinking she was a cockerel. She also used to be the most afraid of me and freaked out whenever I tried to catch her. She has now mellowed out and jumps up on the green lawn chair arm occasionally with Falcon when I sit down there.
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    Phoenix
    Cherry Egger
    About 9 months old
    Phoenix is a lucky girl. She was attacked by an immature Cooper's Hawk, running around with the hawk riding along while plucking feathers off her neck and back. Other than a small wound on the neck, the loss of feathers was Phoenix's only injury. She now has all her feathers back, but for some reason, they are a lighter color. Phoenix is very similar in stature and voice to Red, causing me to confuse the two when I see her out of the corner of my eye.
    Her eggs are small and a rich brown, sometimes peppered with small speckles.\
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    Belle
    Cherry Egger
    About 9 months old
    Belle adores Big Moe, sticking close to his side as he shows bits of food to her. She also makes sure to roost next to him almost every night, screaming in disapproval if I try to remove her. Her comb is floppy like a Leghorn's.
    Egg size and color unknown.
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    Big Moe
    Easter Egger
    About 7 months old
    Big Moe is the only rooster I have had so far. I found him on Craigslist and decided he would be a good addition to the flock. Big Moe is very, very talkative and has a distinctive low voice. He readily joins in on any egg song and clucks and purrs to attract hens to any goodies he has found, though he doesn't crow often. What he lacks in wattle and comb size, he makes up for in big, long hackles that he can impressively flare out to intimidate, all the while looking much like a lion (Grasshopper is hardly fazed by this display, however). Big Moe has never shown any aggressiveness towards people and respects me as head rooster (or hen!).
    When there are separate groups of the hens and pullets foraging, Big Moe runs back and forth, trying to keep watch over all the groups (it's quite comical to watch).
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    Thanks for reading!

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Comments

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  1. Chicken Girls
    This is a very nice story! I like Big Moe. He is a handsome rooster. The picture I use is my barred rock rooster Billy Bob. He is a big boy with long spurs and he knows how to use them.
  2. chickery-do
    Thanks for the pic's, a post well worth reading!
  3. Deb B
    Big Moe looks very much like my General Tso, who is also an EE Rooster. The General is now 9 months old and has recently started to challenge me. So far I'm winning. Hope Big Moe continues to respect your authority!
  4. PhipN FarmGirl
    Very nice little flock! And cute pictures!
  5. BackyardBitten
    very entertaining to read! I love all the personalities of your flock! great job!
  6. TXchickmum
    -love the flock!! -great stories about 'em!
  7. adni02
    Fun reading
  8. chicknnugget
    thanks for posting! What a fun read.
  9. cknnewbie
    Thanks for introducing us to your flock. I loved how you've been able to share both their pictures and their personalities!
  10. zoomzoom
    Loved the characterization of each of your chicken’s personalities. It was a fun read!

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