I've recently noticed Gloria, my barred rock, has a LOT of fans! I thought, "Maybe some members would like her to have a page to herself?" So here it is!
Gloria started out in a bad situation.... 15 chickens were abandoned in a small dog pen.... and Gloria was one of them. She always has had that stern, serious, angry, mean, bossy look on her face.... but what a amazing hen she turned out to be. She is a protector, a mother, a grandmother, a guardian, a friend and a teacher. Let me start from the beginning.... a friend of mine heard of the chickens and went to rescue them. She loaded them all up in dog crates and drove them home to her ranch. She quarentined them in her warm barn with fresh water and food. A few weeks later, they were released with her other birds. Freedom must of felt so good to all those chickens, especially Gloria. At the time, she wasn't social with chickens, nor with humans. She stayed for a few weeks, adjusting to her new home. This ranch is inhabited by 5 horses, of whom which roam freely, secured in a electronic fence. The chickens usually wander under the fence, careful not to touch it, and go to dig and explore in the horse manure. Even though I was not there and nobody saw what happened, here is what we think. Gloria ran into the horse paddock and followed the hens/roos.... the horses started to run or got spooked and while all the other hens scattered, Gloria didn't know what to do.... she had never seen a animal this big! A screech went out as a horse stepped on poor Gloria's foot, which startled the whole flock. She probably ran for cover as her foot throbbed with pain. Days past and Gloria became more and more quiet and solitary. Our friend who owns the ranch took pictures and posted them to facebook.... we saw her lying in the corner with that sad, but yet angry "Gloria eye" on her face. Soon our friend noticed 2 buff orpingtons who were blind and half blind, and dreaded that the same fate of Gloria would come to them, wandering with the horses. She didn't want to give them to a large flock, because they would be picked on badly. She thought of us and shot us a email. We read it and thought about it.... chickens? We knew nothing about them, had no coop or food, pen or shavings, nor the knowledge..... but yet.... we said yes. Gloria was not in the bargain right now, we were only thinking about having 2 birds, no more. We found all the supplys we need, and the day we went to pick the 2 disabled birds up... I saw Gloria. She lay in the corner of the pen, glaring at me. I didn't dare try to pet her... afraid she might attack. (Remember, not used to chickens...) So we brought the 2 birds home.
2 months later... we were off for a trip to Florida! Wait... where we the chickens gonna go? We decided to bring them back to our friends house... we figured they couldn't possibly get into trouble in a week. So we left and while we were gone, our friend noticed something peculiar. Gloria got up and stood with the 2 blind ones, and whenever a rooster came near or a hen, she would charge them off. She guided the two blind birds and I believe kept them safe. We were touched when we heard the news, and started to debate... Was this "angry bird" going to act the same way at our home? Would she let us near or run away? Would she take advantage of our 2 birds and be mean? We were torn.... but somehow, she won our hearts. 2 weeks later, we went to pick her up. We found her in the back of the coop and as I stepped in, calling "chick chick chick!"... what did this "angry bird" do? Fight all the way through! She flapped her wings, pecked and squawked... but we did it. I got her in the carrier, with some angry protests from Gloria and brought her home.
The introduction went bad at first.... apparently Gloria did not realize my happy-go-lucky half blind hen was Penny who she protected 2 weeks ago! She tore out of the carrier and grabbed Penny by the comb, apparently threatened by her! We ran over and shooed her off Penny. Immediately Gloria hobbled over and started to act the same way she did a few weeks before, snuggling and talking to the hens... going, "Bur bur bur??" She seemed like she knew she did wrong and acted very docile to us. That was the beginning of Gloria in our home....
6 months later.... disaster took place. Hazel, the totally blind, became ill with a tumor blocking her airway. She passed away 2 weeks later.... I opened the coop door and found Hazel snuggled beneath Penny and Gloria. I now remember, when I opened the door, Gloria looked at me.... not with angry eyes.... but with a sad, remorseful look... lost.... broken. You know, you would never think chickens had feelings, but I know Gloria does. She stood with Penny, beak to beak for days, refusing to leave her. She seemed to watch us and our house.... she knew we took Hazel away when we found her dead. We buried her under her favorite tree.... and the next few days Gloria watched and waited. Soon the days were quieter, we know longer saw the 3 roaming the yard, digging in the dirt and sunbathing. They lay in their pen silently.
A month later... we saw a ad on craigslist for a free chicken. I thought, "Would this cheer up the place, or would the pecking order wreak havoc? Would Gloria learn to accept another chicken, or push her away?" Again, we were torn. We did it anyways... and what a good decision that was. Nellie has brightened up our flock and brought life again to Gloria. Gloria was very hesitant at letting this strange bird into her coop and her pen, but she soon learned to love her.
Now that I observe Gloria, she may like Nellie, but I feel she still cares a whole lot about Penny. When I take the half-blind bird away, she will frantically try to follow me and make as loud of noise as she can. She will often 'demand' things, for instance, when she wants attention, she will walk up to me and give me a glare and go, 'BUR BUR BUUUR." I also notice Gloria calling to Penny when she feels like a predator is near. Gloria never shares her food with Nellie, but yet will deal with Penny eating right next to her, even if Penny accidently pecks Gloria's comb, she won't hurt her.
So now that I have probably made your eyes bloodshot from reading this loooong story.... enjoy some pics of Gloria throughout the months!
During molting season.... poor angry bird doesn't look to menacing!
Penny and Gloria digging
Who doesn't love Gloria?