This is Cleopatra.
If she were the size of a T. rex, she would tear your head off and run around the yard with it. She is a mean bully, and completely huge and weird looking compared to the others. She fights like a Tasmanian devil when I pick her up, and she’s bony and strong.
Winner of my Least Favorite Chicken award.
My birds are 6 1/2 weeks old now and they are sorting out the pecking order. All bets for #1 alpha dominant chicken would have been on Cleopatra.
Four of eight: from left, Cleobratra, Ginger Grant, Marilyn Monroe and Ella Fitzgerald.
But in a surprise turn of events this week, after a morning of constant conflict and near-bloodletting, Cleopatra has shifted to the #2 or maybe even the #3 position. And the victor? The charming, gregarious, lovey-dovey Marilyn Monroe. Go, Marilyn!
And now Cleo is calmer and nicer, since Marilyn put her in her place.
Oh, make yourself at home. (Photo by Anna Kane.)
The most alert chicken is Dorothy Gale, the barred rock with her head held highest, above. She loves high places; she’s alway on the lookout. She may be #2 or co-leader with Marilyn. Cleopatra avoids conflict with her. She is quiet and reserved, and generally figures out new things first.
The other Rhode Island Red, besides Ginger, is Lucille Ball (just Lucy, really) and she has always been small and nice, and a homebody chicken like Ginger.
The other Buff Orpington, like Marilyn, is Grace Kelly. She is demure and attractive, with fluffy soft feathers like all Buff Orpingtons.
The other barred rock is Mary Ann Summers. She is petite, she sings a lot, and she sings like a little bird.
Ella and Cleo are ameraucanas, or auracanas, or Easter eggers. The whole point of having them is to get blue or green eggs. Ella is low girl on the totem pole and has charming puffy cheek feathers and a wild, pretty feather pattern. She looks like a little hawk, but has the personality of, well, a dumb sweet chicken.
I was finishing up an article for NH To Do magazine, went inside to grab an iced tea, and came back to find the chickens in my chair.
“Mom, I can’t believe I have to compete with chickens for your attention,” said my eldest daughter who was home this past weekend. (She’s 23.)
Well, they do need a lot of attention when they are little. And mine are outside now but the portable electric fence isn’t here yet, so the dog and I are chicken shepherds, tending the flock and prepared to fight off the fox that ate my chickens last year. (Free range fail.)
Watching chickens ranging around, exploring, eating bugs and slugs, flying up into the blackberries, or taking dust baths under the honeysuckle, is actually one of the most relaxing, pleasant ways to spend an hour or two. Chickens are never bored, and never boring.