Our little flock of hens has been enjoying the mild winter and warmer spring weather. We have the orchard fenced so they can “free range” to get all the fresh air and scratching they need but still be safe behind the fence. We put up chicken wire around the daffodils or they would be enjoying those too.
We have been surprised at how much they love any kind of greens. I always thought chickens only ate corn and scratched around, but greens are their favorite. Grass, lettuce, spinach, bok choy, parsley, peas – they eat it all. We take the old produce from the local food bank and the girls love it.
We have fifteen hens and get about a dozen eggs a day. They have kept up this average throughout the winter since we have a light on in the coop a few hours a day. Every now and then we get an odd egg. This one was tiny and looked like a little bird egg.
Though we only have two breeds of chickens, Austrolorps and Barred Rocks, we get eggs of a variety of colors and sizes.
The girls usually don’t seem to mind the rainy weather, we get a lot of that around here. But these two took shelter under the bench to wait out the storm. The Austrolorps are not as bold or brave as the Barred Rocks.
All of the chickens except one are very content to stay in the orchard. It seems there is always one in every crowd who doesn’t conform and for us it is this Barred Rock.
We’ve named her Amelia because she likes to fly out into dangerous places. Depending on your perspective she is either a bold adventurer exploring uncharted territory or a dumb cluck who’s going to get eaten by some critter since she is outside the fence. Molly and Grizzly have been surprisingly tolerant of her aberrant behavior.
They know she is not supposed to be out wandering around but – so far – they have resisted the temptation to teach her a permanent lesson.
Amelia spends her nights safely closed up in the coop with the other hens. In the morning, when Rick lets them out she is up and over the fence in no time. She usually stays within sight of the other girls for a while, then goes off on her explorations.
Yesterday she made it all the way to the front yard where Grizzly was completely enamored with his fresh ham bone.
Amelia quite enjoyed annoying Grizzly and kept trying to peck at his bone. Every time she got too close he moved away from her and went back to chewing on his bone.
After she pestered him for a while she wandered off to the back yard, but it was pretty funny to watch Grizzly protect his bone from a chicken. Amelia flies back over the fence into the orchard with the other hens when it is convenient for her, but most evenings she prefers to wait on the shed porch to be let back in through the gate.
I don’t know how long we can expect Amelia to survive her adventures, but so far she seems none the worse for it and she is entertaining to watch.