They say Buff Orpingtons are the color of a gold pocket watch. I have two, Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly.
Belonging to the English class of chickens, it was bred to be an excellent layer with good meat quality. Their large size and soft appearance together with their rich color and gentle contours make them very attractive, and as such its popularity has grown as a show bird rather than a utility breed. They go broody very often, and make great mothers. Although rather heavy, they are able to fly small distances but rarely do, so they work well as backyard birds. Due to their build they do well in very cold climates.
Marilyn the fat orp, top photo, is the monarch, the flock leader, and all hens bow before her, but Lucy the Rhode Island Red is the adventure leader. She is the first to explore and exploit new territory, such as up the steps to the back deck to scrounge fallen bird seed.
They are a popular choice for backyard flocks because of their egg laying abilities and hardiness. … It was from the Malay that the Rhode Island Red got its deep color, strong constitution, and relatively hard feathers.
Lucy had a red sister named Ginger who was half-eaten by a hawk in the backyard, then buried with the other Barred Rock, Dorothy, killed by a car, in Chicken Graveyard Woods.
Barred Rock Mary Ann has healthy new feathers after her dramatic molt in early December. Hers are the softest feathers. She’s a whiny pinhead, but she lays a lot of nice light pinkish brown eggs. Her sister was smart and nice, but loved to cross the road and one day did not get to the other side.
The Plymouth Rock was developed in New England in the middle of the 19th century and was first exhibited as a breed in 1849. Several individuals claimed its invention, using crosses of Dominiques, Black Javas, Cochins, and perhaps Malays and Dorkings. … The breed became popular very rapidly, and in fact, until World War II, no breed was ever kept and bred as extensively in the United States as the Barred Plymouth Rock. Its popularity came from its qualities as an outstanding farm chicken: hardiness, docility, broodiness, and excellent production of both eggs and meat.
Ella the Easter Egger, in the background, lays pale blue eggs, makes the most noise with her constant querulous trilling, and can often be seen standing stock still in the backyard, looking up at the birds. She had a sibling, Cleopatra, who turned out to be a rooster, renamed Caesar, and I gave him away.
An Easter Egger is any chicken that possesses the “blue egg” gene, but doesn’t fully meet any breed description as defined in the American Poultry Association’s (APA) standards… The name derives from the resemblance of their colorful eggs to Easter eggs. The Araucana, Ameraucana, and Easter Egger are descended from the same founder stock that spread around the world from Chile and the Falklands… The color of Easter Eggers is particularly variable, and they appear in a great number of patterns.
All of these breeds will be available at our local Agway soon, which is where I bought these hens as chicks two years ago.
Zenaida macroura, the mourning dove. Love that crazy Latin name. Zenaida is a genus of American doves, but could be a girl’s first name.
Oh, wait: The name of this genus commemorates Zénaïde Laetitia Julie Bonaparte, wife of the French ornithologist Charles Lucien Bonaparte and niece of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Some birds flit, but not doves. We looked at each other for a while, through the sliding glass door. The longer I looked, the more beautiful the bird. It’s loveliness increased.
A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o’er-darkened ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits.
- John Keats, Endymion
View of the chicken coop from the back deck yesterday morning.
Time for some fresh air and “free ranging,” I herded my five hens out of the chicken run and along the deep, narrow path through the snow. Under the deck, they scratched around in dirt, gravel and straw wisps.
While they scratched, I did some more snow shoveling. And because it was 45 degrees and the sun was hot and bright, I did it sleeveless. Then I carried a dining room chair out onto the deck and, in t-shirt and shorts (plus boots, still), I soaked up some of that hot sunshine.
Then chores indoors. Later I peered out a window and spied the chickens in a warm, companionable under-deck pile, in slanting sunshine, each one facing a different direction… to keep an eye out for that red-tailed hawk.
Opening the coop door to the chicken run, two mornings ago, after snow.
The coop and run are halfway to hobbit hole, as the snow accumulates, packs down and raises the ground level. Seventeen years we’ve lived here and I can’t remember deeper snow on the ground.
But now: rain. All night, in torrents, and into this (early) morning. Strange to hear the sound of water outside. Slushy ice in patches on pavement and still-deep, soaking-wet snow everywhere else. Deeply cloudy skies. Temperature right now: 35 degrees. Forecast:
Chickens and I will be shut in again, my house, their coop like Noah’s arks in storm seas of New England weather.
I’m reading a good book now, Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle, by Thor Hanson.
From page 4:
“Animals with backbones, the vertebrates, come in four basic styles: smooth (amphibians), hairy (mammals), scaly (reptiles, fish), or feathered (birds). While the first three body coverings have their virtues, nothing competes with feathers for sheer diversity of form and function. They can be downy soft or stiff as battens, barbed, fringed, fused, flattened, or simple unadorned quills They range from bristles smaller than a pencil point to the thirty-five-foot breeding plumes of the Ongadori, an ornamental japanese fowl. Feathers can conceal or attract. They can be vibrantly colored without using pigment. They can store water or repel it. They can snap, whistle, hum, vibrate, boom, and whine. They’re a near-perfect airfoil and the lightest, most efficient insulation ever discovered.”