June 19, 2011

Tilly, the Australorp, is our head hen.  As a day old chick, she was the largest and the smartest.  She was also one of the hardiest girls.  Today, she is not the biggest, but she definitely rules the roost.  She has a very sweet nature about her.  She loves to be held and will even nestle into your neckline between your shoulder and your ear.  I love it when they do that!

She also loves to talk.  It seems as though she is constantly talking.  In fact, I recognize her voice from the other hens and often talk to her when I am on the other side of the yard.  She has a very low sweet song that she sings.  The chorus is always the same and she mixes up the verses.   She is especially talkative as she lays her eggs.  From the coop, she provides all those around with a play by play account of the entire process.  I try my best to talk chicken back to her.  She cocks her head from side to side like a puppy.  Her wattles swing back and forth.  O, how I do wish we truly could understand each other.

She is obedient.  She recognizes me as the chicken mom.  When I need to pick her up, she never runs away from me.  She may not feel like going in, but always remains calm in my arms.  She understands the hierarchy.  She also knows that when I am not around, she is in charge.  She rules a tight ship.  She constantly ensure that everyone is in line and knows that she is the boss.  I imagine it must get tiring for her. Though, she seems to love it.  As she is the boss, she always gets first dibs at the treats.  I purposefully scatter treats over the entire run, but she always gets the prime pieces.  If someone else has something that she wants, she gets it and typically without much of a squabble. 

Finally, I find that she is the one that everyone wants to sleep next to at night.  Usually, she is sandwiched between the two Buff Orpingtons.  She tells the flock when it is time to roost.  However, the most interesting thing that I read and can tell you to be true of Tilly, is that when she free-ranges, she never ventures too far from the coop.    Apparently, Australorps don’t like to be too far from home.  As the head hen, the girls follow Tilly’s lead.  This is very nice as I never have to look to far to find them.

Photo credit:  Tilly’s Nest


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6 thoughts on “Tilly”

  1. I have noticed with mine…the same hens go in at night in the same order..it cracks us up.One little red…always runs back out into the run..like she is searching for something..then she meanders into the coop for me to close the door.My husband said my goodness..they really have a routine…lol

    Cindy from Rick-Rack and Gingham

  2. Cute! They do all have such personalities. I was wanting Australorps and buff Orpingtons. The buffalo gnats are keeping ours very very very close to the coop. Too dangerous for them to roam far from the protection of the screen and fan. (One farmer just lost 50 chicks in the matter of a few hours to the gnats. Very sad.)

    One barred rock is named Timmy. I don't know exactly which one it is until I pick it up.. and boy oh boy does it complain. Stresses the dog out who has a Lassie complex. (Must save Timmy!)

  3. Cindy, me too! Fifi is last around here. Their sociology is jut so interesting.

    Anne, I have never heard of buffalow gnats, but I don't care for regular ones. I cannot IMAGINE the size of those things. I am going to have to google them. Poor girls 🙁

  4. They used to be really prevalent up until the 30's or 40's.. then they became quite scarce. They thought the numbers were reduced due to water pollution.. but the last few years they have reemerged fiercely. The water quality really isn't better than in previous decades. We are also dealing with heavy invasions of Asian carp. They are trying to keep these invasive fish out of the Great Lakes system.(These fish eat everything that fits in their mouth.. like lil native fish that eat the larvae of the buffalo gnats.) Our larger farm, you can see the Mississippi in the distance. The small farm the property is near a small quick stream.

    The larvae of the gnats need quick moving water to have enough oxygen. So this year's crazy rains have provided an explosion of these bugs.

    They wiggle in through the bird's feathers easily, and the bite hurts- sending the birds racing to the coop for protection and squawking complaints. The buffalo gnat can also carry 3 different viruses. (When the bugs bite you, it is like mosquito bites in that allergic reactions can vary. My husband is not allergic to mosquitoes- so they bite him and nothing happens. He does really react to these bugs biting getting super crazy itchy welts the size of 1/2 dollars. Mine are quarter sized welts. When working outside, these bugs will crawl into your clothes to bite you.)

    Shade cloth often is fine enough to screen the bugs out, and a box fan on medium or high helps give the birds some relief.

    I'm trying to get pics of the temporary run we have our bitty chicks in.. and will show the extent of the buffalo gnats. Seriously something that will give nightmares. If you can keep the kids protected, about July is when things ease up. It does majorly impact our coop design as every year these bugs seem to be getting worse and worse.

    About black flies.. aka Buffalo gnats:

  5. On my God Anne! How terrible! Can they fit through screening too? Maybe you could put some mosquito netting over a smaller run until they ease up. We have some nasty little moth larvae that poop on everything in the Spring but they don't bite. Sorry you have to deal with all that. Thank you for the info and link. I will check them out!

  6. I don't think they can go through screens. They can't seem to get through shade cloth. We get them in the house as they hitchhike in. I really can't wait for them to go away!


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Sharing an inspired life from the New England seaside. Chickens, Bees, Gardens, Art and Yummy Goodness.