Thank you so much for the comments on the new four hens (?). I have joined a site called Backyard Chickens. It is chock full of great info, ideas, and forums where chicken owners can ask questions, share advice... So, I posted a couple of pictures of the new girls and asked what breeds people thought they were. A lot of the same names came up as some of you suggested (good job, bloggers!!). But alas, a guy let me know that my big one (black / brown mottled feathers) is undoubtedly a rooster. I really hope not. I've had roosters in the past.
The first rooster we had came as a package deal with a little banty hen. He was beautiful, but had "little man syndrome". His name was Rusty, a la The Friendly Giant, for all of my Canadian bloggers. He was a nasty piece of work. Hated me, hated my son's little red rubber boots, just a horrid little animal. He was rehomed down the road at a farm that had a whole bunch of chickens.
Then the next rooster we had also came as a package deal with a beautiful hen. She was black and white, as was he. He was a gentle giant. He never crowed for the longest time. Then one day we heard him crow and it was astounding. It was like an old fashioned crow, deep and throaty, like a country western singer might put forth, the kind you'd hear in the back ground of an old black and white movie set in the west where homesteaders were carving out a life... you get the idea. His name was Pepper and his "wife" was Salt. Unfortunately, Pepper slowly lost his sight and at the end, just stayed in the coop. He was still eating and drinking but I felt sad for him. Then one fateful, horrible night, a skunk got in the coop (we hadn't closed up it when we normally did because we were out for the evening) and killed Pepper. I didn't even know skunks would do that. It was traumatizing.
Our third rooster was actually three roosters. We bought a "package" of four pretty little buff brahma chickens (at the same big farmer's market where we got all the other rooster deals) and this fiasco ended up being three roosters and one hen. (The three tenors, the three amigos, whatever you wanted to call them) They were fun. You could crow at them and make them crow back at you. They were small, but not feisty. But seriously, nobody needs three roosters. (For the uninformed, you don't need a rooster at all. Chickens naturally lay eggs regardless. Having a rooster just means the eggs can be fertilized and possibly hatched out as chicks).
Anyway.... to get back to the story at hand, the four little birds still weren't interested in going out into their run and after all the work of clearing branches, pulling giant weeds, making the chicken bench, and raking tons of wood chips, I was determined to have them go out and see what they were missing. I managed to catch the biggest of the four and placed it just outside the coop on the little ramp that goes down from the chicken door. It took a few steps down and so that started the process. It called out several distress calls ("Hey!! I'm out here alone! Hey you guys!!) and then one by one the others came out. Within a few hours, they had dug a small chicken sized hole to act as a dust bath and had a roaring good time. I introduced them to the joys of watermelon rinds and they drank water from the outdoor water pan.
Happy happy, cheep, cheep, cheep (they don't cluck yet, they're too young).
But... here's the thing. I really wanted laying hens. With these little ones I will have to wait probably another three months before any eggs are laid. I've already had a five year hiatus from hens. Husband already spent a lot of time making this coop into something great again (This Old Coop, The Coop Mahal...) and I felt things weren't exactly what I envisioned.
Before the weekend, I had been in email contact with a fellow in a town about 45 minutes from here who was selling all six of his young laying hens. He was relocating and didn't want to take them with him. I had offered to buy them, but he was going away for the weekend and I didn't have an appropriate vehicle in which to load up chicken cages, so I had to pass on the purchase. Another person was coming for them before I could make the arrangements.
Today I fired off an email to this fellow and asked out of curiosity if he had ended up selling his hens and he had not. Well, I had the vehicle, so off we went after getting directions. Nowadays, people are allowed to keep backyard hens in towns and this is what he had done. He had a lovely set up for them with a spacious coop and an covered run. He was taking very good care of them. They are red sex link, a kind I am very familiar with, and they are only six months old. They came home with us, and six of their eggs from that morning!
Welcome the six new girls:
Aren't they lovely? Healthy, happy, clucky, fluffy bummed hens. They set to work in the chicken run scratching around, eating some watermelon, and establishing a pecking order. Naturally, they are bigger then the younger hens and will be a bit bossy, but nobody got seriously hurt. Just feelings.
I absolutely cannot wait until I go out tomorrow morning and hopefully find some eggs. I took three of their own eggs and put them in the nesting boxes to get them to make the connection. I'm about to go outside and see if everyone has gone into the coop for the evening. Then I will shut the little door. I hope the little ones are "allowed" to come in by the big ones, otherwise I'll be out there trying to catch them and put them in. (Not a big fan of that. Chickens are notoriously hard to catch).
I am now the proud owner of ten birds. Not out of control, yet.