Sunday, February 7, 2016

Chickens With Friends, One Loner Truly Free Ranger Chicken

I love watching and observing chickens.  They have a whole "village" composition.  
Right now, I do not have a rooster, so a dominant chicken of the flock, an older Barred Rock, is in charge.  She is first to the new food put out; she puts all the newest chickens in their order of who gets to hang out with whom near the main group. She decides if you are "in" yet to that group or "out".  You never know until she leaves you alone, or makes a harsh sound with a swift peck on the head.
I find that generally, there is the high school group hanging out together.  Ones that are "juveniles" and not quite in the "in" group of the older ones, if you know what I mean!!
They find areas of their free range area interesting that the older chickens don't care about and don't like to wonder too, too far away from the security of the hen house and closed in area.  And they never like being by themselves, they HAVE to be together all the time.
As soon as the chickens are let out, the older group of hens, possibly the senior citizen group find the best dust piles to spend some time covering themselves in a fine dust.  
Later, there is a favorite sunny and warm spot on the lawn, edging gravel, that a group lays on-do you think to ease those aching bones??? Sometimes I see them extend out a wing and a leg to get every inch of their feathers in the warm early sun.
It doesn't take long for a few to find some interesting spots of damp leaves to find some good bugs.  
And then there is the loner, the one who doesn't care to be in any group at all.  Mine is an older Buff Orphington.  She is happy to find a way to get out and go out into the back gardens and spend the day out there foraging all by herself.  It bothers me because she is very vulnerable by herself, not to be alerted by an over head hawk or the fox that lives in the back corner of our property next to the water ditch.
During the day, she will sometimes go out to the front lawn to check out that spot for anything interesting to eat or under the big sycamore tree where I still haven't had time to rake up its big leaves from fall.
And during this last year, she spends about 1/3 of her time sleeping outside her fenced in area, at night in the hen house.  That is really troublesome.  I have to really pay attention to count hen heads at night-I have 3 Buff Orphingtons left from an original 8 I got in 2009. So she is a senior citizen hen and she may be not only a loner, but maybe, should I dare say it??  Loosing it as a normal chicken???  Maybe she thinks she is a dog now or that she can fly, which she can't because I clip their wings.  Or maybe she just enjoys the freedom to do what she wants to do; to be off quiet all by herself to explore the big world I have allowed my chickens to live in.  
All I know is she likes who she is, she likes being alone, she is happiest not confined to time tables like the rest of the flock; she is a loner, a truly,free ranging chicken.  A hen that is doing her own thing. She is not easily lead by the group that likes the dust piles; she doesn't go with the group to the sun tan booth on the rocks; and she doesn't like staying close to the shelter of the water, nest boxes, and the juveniles running here and there, chatting chatting all the time.
I guess we all have our personalities, our friends, what we would like to do with our day, the freedom to explore.
Have a great hen day whatever you choose~~

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