Holly is our eleven year old daughter. She was born in Huangshi China, and joined our family in 2010 at five years old. Nia is a ten month old White Leghorn. As a rule, leghorns are flighty and don't really have much interest in human interaction. For the most part that is true of her, but, not when it comes to Holly.
When we got chickens, Holly wasn't as interested or excited as the other kids. She didn't like that they would poop in your hand if you held them, and they didn't seem to want to bond with her, or anybody. Only one of them held any interest for her and that was the one she named Nia after a character in a Ninja video game. She would pick her up, and walk around with her, talking to that little chick and just spending time with her. Once Nia was big enough to be outside, Holly wanted her to remember those times, but, Nia, like all the other chickens, was more interested in all the great outdoors and would run when anyone tried to approach her. That made Holly more determined to remind Nia that they were friends.
She would relentlessly follow Nia around until she could corner her and pick her up. Surprisingly, Nia didn't resist, and after a short time something special happened. Nia bonded to Holly.
Whenever Holly goes into the yard Nia comes trotting up to her waiting to be picked up. Holly proudly parades her pet chicken around the yard and Nia is not too anxious to be put down. She is content to just be with Holly and will often fall asleep in her lap. So, in the end, maybe all that time Holly spent with Nia actually worked out.
This is Morticia. She is a seven month old Black Austrolorp. Isn't she beautiful? Those soft, dark eyes, the contrast of the red comb and wattles to her shiny black feathers, that shine in a green-blue iridescence when the sunlight hits them. And she is sweet, oh, so sweet. There isn't a mean bone in her whole body.
his is Cordelia. She is a ten month old Rhode Island Red. She does have beautiful glossy red feathers, and she lays a beautiful brown egg nearly every day, but, when this girl looks you in the eye, there is something not so sweet about her. She is a bully.
I've often said about people that every good or bad thing they do is in response to one of two emotions, Love or Fear. I think it applies to animals, chickens included. I see this little red hen as being very afraid of losing her position in our flock to the very popular Morticia. And that is a valid fear, because we have considered re-homing Cordelia, and to date that is not off the table of solutions to the problem. She doesn't know that. All she knows is that she is not the top chicken, that title belongs to Mochi, one of our very productive White Leghorns.
The pecking order goes something like this.
Mochi is top chicken. She is a scrabbly, squawky Leghorn, with a single red comb that flops to one side like a 50's rockabilly singer. Mochi has earned her place by domineering all the other chickens. She will forever need to defend that spot and on at least one occasion was left with blood on her feathers, her own blood, from a dispute for the title.
Nia, the other White Leghorn, is second in command. Early on Nia and Mochi, being birds of a feather, made an alliance. Nia was content with being second as long as she was not third. Nia is my eleven year old daughter, Holly's, favorite chicken. Whenever Holly comes out into the yard, Nia comes a runnin, sqwakking all the way, begging to be picked up.
Now here is where it starts to get fuzzy.
The next three chickens in the order, at least for now, are Lacey (Silver Laced Wyandotte), Chief Running Fluff (the oldest of the Easter Eggers), Cordelia (the Bully), and Tikka (Buff Orpington). Lacey, Chief, and Cordelia have been vying for the third spot in the order for months. It used to be securely Chief's spot, until Lacey and Cordelia matured and started laying eggs. There were some spats, but, Chief relinquished her spot when she started molting, and has only recently started feeling more like herself, and so the order is not quite settled. Lacey and Cordelia are basically like sisters, because they were brooder mates together, so, they, like Mochi and Nia, have an alliance. Tikka, well, she is so sweet and docile, she really doesn't care where she is in the order as long as she gets to eat.
All of the six older girls are laying eggs. Not every day. But most days. We average four eggs every day. Since Chief has been molting she hasn't laid any eggs, it's been a couple of months, but, I expect she will start again soon.
Now that the younger six are starting to lay eggs, they are also going to be moving up in the pecking order, and that isn't good for the older six. There will be fighting. There will be pecking. There will be some that move up, and some that move down. Now let me introduce the other six.
First, in order of egg laying status, for lack of a better way to sort them, is Morticia. She, as said earlier, is sweet, and beautiful. She carries herself in such a regal fashion, very much like her namesake. We used to have her brother, Wednesday, but, that's another story.
Next is Loralei. She is a Black Cuckoo Marans. She laid her first egg today, and it was a dark brown, like chocolate. Loralei is demure, and gentle. She loves to chit chat with me, and is fine being wherever she ends up in any pecking order. She is a pacifist.
Then, from the looks of the way she is acting, is Rosie, a gorgeous flaming brass Easter Egger. Now she could give the others a run for their money. She is scrappy, and a bit flighty, but, so far, happy to just be in the middle of the flock. She's been acting lately like she wants to lay an egg. In chickens, if you reach for them and they squat down, they are ready to start laying eggs, but, the only other indicator is their comb. If it's red, they are ready, and hers is very red these days.
Next is the other Easter Egger, Bunny. She looks more like a pheasant, at least her feathers do, than a chicken. Bunny is strong willed, and doesn't take crap from anybody. Of them all, I see her vying for top spot some day. She is also acting like she will lay any day now.
The last two are my beautiful Salmon Faverolles, Pipi and Winnie. Pipi has ear muffs, and a very white chest. She is so funny, cracks us up all the time with her antics. She is also very passive, and docile. I can see her happily staying at the bottom of the order.
Winnie is only a little more confident than Pipi, but, still, she will probably only ever be above Pipi, and no one else. She has lots of orange spots on her chest, and is quite talkative.
Now that Morticia is laying eggs, the pecking order is in danger. She is going to be the largest chicken in the flock, unless Bunny keeps growing, so, she will have some weight to throw around. With her being so peaceful, I wonder if this isn't all a tempest in a tea pot. I guess we'll see.
I'm a mother of eleven children, wife of 37 years, Latter Day Saint, and 911 Dispatcher and a budding homesteader. Come along with me as I journey toward self sufficiency, one baby step at a time.
Check out my Christmas music radio station, Christmas Everyday.