Meet The Girls
Ruby Redhead: One of two that I personally picked because, of course, how beautiful she is. I named her on the first day — Ruby Redhead just came to mind. She Cock – a – Doodle – Doos and was the first hen to take food from my hand. She is not, however, much of an eater, and I do worry about her as the other hens are putting on more weight and faster. And although she is not timid in many, many ways (her and Helen of Troy put on their battle feathers at least once daily), she is still very slow to snatch up treats – live or not.
Esther: A plain unassuming hen that I did not pick. She was just one of 3 other plain Jane’s that were able to be caught on the day I picked them to take home with me. She is the fattest hen and eats with gusto. She is also the first and only hen to lay eggs. Esther in Hebrew means Fertility Goddess and that — she is!! She laid her first egg on August 27th, 2012. She has adopted a 4 day on and one day off egg laying routine. She lays daily at 11:15 ish am and her eggs are a pale pinkish brown. She always lays in the same nest box. Yesterday, I accidentally closed the gate to the coop during the time she usually lays. I also closed her and the other hens into the piney fenced area while I went on a few errands. When I came home around 11:45 am, she had jumped the fence and was pacing back and forth by the gate to the coop. Oops. Needless to say, she was not a happy hen. I quickly opened the gate, she jogged in desperately, as if she had been holding her egg in her vent – and cackled at me disapprovingly as she went by. I apologized profusely, as she just about flew into the coop and there, promptly laid her rather late egg. Note to self: make coop available on egg laying schedule.
Last night, Esther was eating out of control — I thought her neck would burst. She was acting like she was high on drugs…eating and drinking like crazy – like a crazed bird. However, she did take time to preen and she went to bed normally and has been fine today. What was that all about, I wonder?
Helen of Troy: Little Miss Bully. I called the folks who I bought the hens from because of Helen, who is a beautiful bird, but she is such a bully and I thought maybe she’s a rooster, as she’s also constantly trying to mount the others. The hen people assured me that I only have females…so, I guess she’s just a bully… and maybe a lesbian. She is definitely Alpha bird. Her name though is the result of her heroism last week.
I’ve been training my dogs (or so I thought) to treat the hens with respect and NO touch. Well, that training flew out the window. Somehow two of the LARGE dogs (the always naughty rascally ones) snuck into the fenced area and wreaked havoc on the birds. Clearly, they weren’t trying to kill the hens; I think they wanted to play with them.
I heard some strange cackling noises and I knew. I ran down the stairs of the house and out the door to the back yard and sure enough.. the dogs heard me screaming out and tried desperately to get back out of the fenced area before I caught them red-handed. I saw their guilty dog faces on the wrong side of the fence and I definitely knew. They knew I knew. As I ran into the penned yard while the dogs ran out (with me “yelling and beating” them as I ran by), I saw feathers everywhere, with nary a bird in sight. Could those bastards have eaten my birds???
I went into the piney fenced area and there in the corner lay 4 deathly scared birds, their little bird heads all straining to get out of 2″ x 2″ fencing. Gently, I pulled their little hen heads out of the fence and picked them up, one by one, inspected them for blood, gashes, puncture wounds (none) and placed them in their safety zone. Where was the bully? I looked everywhere for her and could not find her outside. I then looked in the farm building which houses the coop. Near the wood pile were more feathers than I could count.
OMG. They killed her. Maybe they ate her. Suddenly, I felt so incredibly sick for the little bully that I had not yet named. But I didn’t see any blood or guts anywhere. I kept looking around and finally behind a bucket, lay a still hen. Oooh, I thought she was dead. She didn’t move. I picked her up gently and could see that she was still alive. I checked her all over and no blood, no guts, nothing but feathers everywhere. She let me cradle her in my arms for awhile — so unlike the bully, and eventually I took her to the safety zone and gently placed her on the ground to see if she was mobile. She was clearly dazed and in shock. PTSD. She had lost so many feathers, I was worried if they would ever grow back or if she had enough to even fly up on the perch. For the rest of the day, the birds rehabbed. No bullying, no cackling, nothing but scant foraging, and a dazed look in all their little hen eyes. Poor things. But that night, they all perched successfully on their own and by the next day, things seemed a little better and in several days, things went back to normal with the commencement of bullying, etc…
The naughty dogs were given the silent treatment for quite awhile, no treats and just dog kibble (they normally don’t eat dog food, so this is a really big deal.) They knew I was pissed and rightly so. Since then, I have not let them anywhere near the fence and it will be quite awhile before I try again.
I soon realized though that Helen was by far the strongest, fastest, and quickest bird. There is absolutely no way the dogs got to her unless she acted as a decoy to save the rest of the flock. I’m certain she took those dogs on. Helen of Troy saved the flock and even though she is still a bully and not that likeable, I totally respect that bird!! She was absolutely the heroine that day!!
Pepita: Another homely bird, but with the distinction of having the darkest feathers. She is the middle of the pack bird and nothing about her was too distinguishing until I brought home some raw, organic trailmix that included pepitas. My little Pepita was so named because of how much she LOVES raw pepitas. OMG. That one item brought out the fearlessness in that bird, as she quickly began eating those pepitas right out of my hand. Every day, she comes right up to me and looks at me as if to ask…”do you have any pepitas for me??”
Pepita also is a good team worker and she absolutely loves it when I dig up the earth for the hens so they can easily grab the live worms that squirm around. She is the only bird — and Esther too, that stands right next to my hand tools waiting for me to dig up the earth. I can’t dig around fast enough for those two. Very hard working hens who love live worms. She also gets bullied (and Esther too) by Helen and I intercede on their behalf whenever I can. I think she may be my next egg layer [prediction came true!].
Sissy: The baby and clearly the runt of the flock, but she is protected by them all. No-one beats up on her. She has successfully managed to ingratiate herself with each hen (cleaning them, deferring to them all), so she is treated like the baby of the pack. A dense little smart bird, and a little flighty (not flighty as in fly away flighty, just dense flighty)…she’s always a step behind, a little slow, a little whimsical — but clearly smart enough. She’s cute, but I can imagine she might never lay an egg!!
And there you have it! My 5 adorable hens!!