Tag / heritage breed chickens

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

The Pilgrim’s Chickens

pilgrim's chickens from Plimoth Plantation

Yesterday I took the kids to Plimoth Plantation on an outing. We love visiting this hands-on “living” museum about the lives of the original colonists and the Wampanoag Indians.  In the 1600s, when the pilgrims sailed across the Atlantic Ocean on the Mayflower, they brought with them many things from England.  This included items such as pottery, metal cooking vessels, furniture, fabric, clothing and beer.  They also brought various animals as well as heritage breed chickens for meat and eggs.  Once ashore, their chickens spent their lives free-ranging about the plantation.  This might explain why the older heritage breeds to this day have hens that grow spurs.  Protection was very important.

As we walked the grounds, my children paid little attention to anything except for the chickens.  They took great pleasure in finding the chickens dispersed in the vegetable and herb gardens, along the rock walls and tucked into corners underneath planks of wood.  We saw many chickens running away as tourists tried to approach, yet somehow the chickens were never afraid of myself or the kids.

We walked up to them gently, cooing chicken talk.  Despite not knowing us, somehow they did not fear us. We spent a good half hour or so, sitting in the garden to the side of the cottage watching some of the world’s best composters and exterminators till the earth and eat a found bug here and there.  A cool breeze blew off the ocean and we sat amongst the chickens on the ground.  As we sat they came and looked around at us.  Eventually, we were surrounded by about five chickens or so, all happy to have new company at their garden smorgasbord.

Somehow, those hens knew, that we were “one of them”.  Did they smell our chickens on us?  Could they understand our gentle ways or the way that we spoke to them?  People that walked through the garden asked how we got the chickens to come so close to us.  My kids smiled and said, “Maybe they somehow know that we keep chickens too.”

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Coggeshall Farm

This past weekend we took a day trip to a town on the outskirts of Newport, Rhode Island named Bristol.  We happened to discover a real gem, Coggeshall Farm.  The best part about this working museum is that it is based upon a 1799 homestead and you can touch everything!  In fact, it is encouraged that you look in every building, closed or not, touch the farm animals, explore the fields and the gardens.  The farm raises heritage breeds of chickens, ducks, sheep, oxen, donkeys, turkeys and horses.  You can explore the farmhouse with a real working kitchen complete with hearth cooking.  Of course, I thoroughly enjoyed chicken watching.

Raising rarer heritage breeds of chickens like Dominiques and Speckled Sussex enables them to not only be more historically accurate but in their opinion have better options when it comes to free-ranging.  Despite being open to predators galore, rarely are their birds ever taken.  In fact, many of these birds prefer to be outside all year long meandering through the gardens and the fields.




a 1799 chicken run




Photo Credits:  Tilly’s Nest