|Peering up for some snuggles, Oyster Cracker’s loving gaze is captured.|
If you are like me, you spend a great deal of time watching your backyard flock. On nice days and even on not so nice days, you can typically find me out in the gardens working, weeding, mulching or just plain procrastinating by the chicken coop. This is one of my favorite ways to pass the time since they arrived on our doorstep. I likened it to watching chicken t.v. Though, I have noticed over time that most girls in the flock have a distinct role.
Oyster Cracker is the lookout hen. She takes her job very seriously and spends most of her days perched up on the stump of a log. She stands tall. Her tail is in the air and she is busy surveying the land and the skies. Other times she can be found pecking at all things shiny like my earrings. She takes time off to take deep messy dustbaths with the Silkies. Her sheer size alone allows her to dig deep and wide holes in the run in no time. It is not unusual to find her piled into a great pile with herself and two other Silkies. I just know they are completely content when I find them laying there in assorted yoga positions or when they have just decided to go totally boneless.
The police officer is Sunshine. She is always butting into the other hen’s business and very busily and purposefully spends her days going to check up on all of the other hens. “Whatcha doin?” seems to be her slogan. She cocks her head in question. She nibbles on shared snacks. She checks on the egg laying process and she often finds and tests ways to scrape her beak. She always seems to have a rough scrape on the top of her beak. For the life of me, I have never figured out where that sharp place is that she visits frequently over the years.
Dolly is the Mother Hen. She is completely content to spend most of her days broody in the nesting boxes. Just as quickly as she snaps out of her broodiness, she heads back into the zen like trance. She has been this way for years so who am I to tell her that she should live her life any other way. I don’t think she will ever have her poofy head feathers return and that doesn’t seem to faze her one bit. Sunshine has been doing a very good job at policing them and making sure they do not return.
|Somebody has to drag this branch all over the yard. It might as well be me!|
Tilly is the Queen or head hen as most are known in all flocks. She is a wonderful, sweet, graceful girl who takes her job very seriously. Amazingly, despite her smaller size, she has been head of this flock since the first week in the brooder. Being different had its advantages. She was not a Buff Orpington nor a Silkie Bantam. She co-mingled with everyone and everyone enjoyed her company and her snuggles in the brooder. She is well liked and i think she makes a wonderful head hen.
I like to call the three other Silkie Bantams, Feathers, Fifi and Autumn, the flock members. Their job is to help provide safety in numbers. They never really have show me any clearly distinct roles. They happily co-exist with all the other members of the flock. They rarely exert themselves and are happy to live life as just one of the gang. They have their times of broodiness. They lay beautiful perfect little tinted eggs of cream and white. They help give off extra body warmth in the winter time.
Interestingly enough when I was putting them to bed last night, I found that Dolly, Tilly, Sunshine and Oyster Cracker are all sleeping near each other these days. In the past, we have been known for some strange sleeping arrangements. The three other Silkies each prefer one of the nesting boxes. Sometimes at night when I put them to bed, I discover a warm egg laid late in the day. Amazingly, after over 3 years of having these girls, I don’t think I can really ever train these Silkies to sleep on the roosts. Maybe I should start to call them “The Rebels”. There is always one in every group. Why not three in ours?
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest