February 6, 2012

Mrs. Mean (And Other Chicken News)

Mrs. Mean, formerly Lady B
I have renamed my original Barred Holland hen. Not that I actually name any of my chickens; when addressing them I call everybody "Mrs. Chicken." Except of course our rooster. This gal though, had always been referred to as "Lady B." Until recently that is. She is now known as "Mrs. Mean".

In our original flock, she was at the very bottom of the pecking order. She was constantly being picked on and chased away by the others. She had so many feathers pulled out that she was forever half naked. Fortunately these grew back, but when the new chicks arrived she made sure that she was no longer on the bottom.

While very sweet and friendly toward the humans, she is definitely not so toward the Buff Orpingtons. Most of the time she just chases away whichever one is handy. Or gives them a peck, or a yanks out a feather, just to remind them what's what. On occasion though, she gets her ornery on. For example, one day I heard panicked squawking and a frantic flurry of wings in the hen house. Fearing some critter was after the chickens, I took off running. Turns out Mrs. Mean had decided to occupy and defend all of the nest boxes, and was chasing all the pullets out of the hen house. I removed her to the goat shed and egg laying resumed after that.

Old and new all grazing & bug hunting together

Other than that, I am pleased to report that our chicken situation has evolved into a happier place. My two flocks, old and new, have finally blended together and everybody seems fairly happy!

Calling a chicken conference at the buck gate

I do have to say that this rooster is not as romantic with the ladies as Lord B was. Lord B used to sidle up to his intended and dance when he was in the mood. While she stood there, mesmerized by his fancy footwork, he would hop on and do the deed. From our observations however, his aim didn't appear to be too good. It wasn't surprising then, that only 3 of the 9 eggs I gave Mama Welsummer hatched.

This guy announces his intentions by puffing out his wings and chest, charging his victim like a raging bull, and grabbing on at a gallop like a rodeo rider. Consequently he has earned himself the nickname of "Cowboy." He is hitting the mark however, so perhaps we'll have a brood of Buff Orpington chicks one of these days.

The junior Barred Holland pullet, one of
the "Mrs. Chickens," & Cowboy

Another interesting observation is that my original hens expect said rooster to find tidbits for them and turn them over. Like Lord B did. Cowboy however, had no clue he was supposed to do this. They're getting him trained however. Now when he finds something, he may start pecking away but they all run over, push him aside, and help themselves. At that point he starts making the "look what I found" cluck, so perhaps he'll eventually catch on to his duties.

And that's the chicken news for February, 2012.

Parting shot: Mrs. Mean, hopeful for some tidbit


Michelle said...

I loved reading about "a day in the life" of your chicken flock!

Susan said...

Cowboy looks like a Texas rooster - look at those long legs! It is so much fun to watch them carrying on their chicken business, isn't it?

Rosamargarita said...

Adoro esa gallina negra! Mean es su nombre?
Un abrazo

Alice said...

Sitting here laughing out loud about your chickens. And your pictures are wonderful, too.

The Stay @ Home-Gardener said...

Pretty birds. If it were not for needing permission from all adjacent neighbors according to local city ordinance we might have gotten a few. Pest control. Would have to find a nice neighbor to give away the eggs being vegan. :) Now the apiary idea... City says we can have two of those without a permit!

"Captia today was "Tomarugs" Is that when you spill all your precious pico de gallo over the carpet?"

Leigh said...

Michelle, with chickens, there's always something going on, isn't there!

Susan, a Texas rooster, that he does. He's really a big'un, about twice as big as the Barred Hollands.

Rosamargarita, gracias! And si, "Mean" is her name now!

Alice, every night my DH asks for the animal report. The chickens are always the ones we chuckle over the most. :)

Stay @ Home-Gardener, LOL. Chickens are great for pest control. Also manure, if you use it in your compost. You could always get one of those fancier breeds that doesn't lay much. Check Henderson's Handy Dandy Chicken Chart for an idea of breeds that lay less.

Cat Eye Cottage said...

Our barred rock has turned out to be very mean to the new chicks, and we think she was the guilty party to a massive attack on our buff orpington's comb a few weeks back. It was gushing blood.

Poppy said...

Your chicken tale is just too funny Leigh! My kids are wondering why I'm smiling from ear to ear!

Ngo Family Farm said...

Chicken romance, too funny! I love how they're training Cowboy ;) We're lucky to have a very gallant, yet gentle rooster. He's got that fancy footwork action, although occasionally the ladies ignore him as if to say, "you it any new moves!?"


~mel said...

I don't raise chickens ~ but Mom has had them for years. When she gets an aggressive hen towards the others she takes a nail clippers and nips just a tiny bit off her top beak. It grows back; but in the time it takes for it to grow back the hen seems to stop picking on the others. She also does this to hens that want to peck on eggs. Don't ask why ~ I just know it works.

Mama Pea said...

Just have to say you've got some mighty good lookin' chickens there! Our little bit of snow has melted enough that there is bare ground showing around the chicken house and they are loving scratching in the dirt again. It's not normal at all that we have bare ground at this time of year, but at least the chickens are happy about it.

Jane said...

I just loved the part about Mrs mean,she looks as if she is full of attitude,very charming lady!!

Blessings Jane

Leigh said...

Candace, who in the world knows why chickens do what they do! Especially to one another. Not exactly peaceful natural living in the animal world.

Poppy, so glad you enjoyed it!

Jaime, I love those chicken dances. Cowboy seems to understand that the ladies all have first dibs, but he's still catching on to the rest of it. :)

Mel, it grows back?!?!? I hadn't heard that. It's true that they're habits can be changed, especially with a distraction!

Mama Pea, thanks! Chickens do love bare ground, dirt, and even mud! Mine certainly do too. :)

Jane, she's a character. Anytime she sees Dan or I with a shovel, she's right there in the front row to "help." Have you ever tried to dig a hole with a chicken on the shovel? She really is an excellent forager though. In fact, my Delaware used to follow her around and still the tidbits she found!

Crustyrusty said...

Rosamargarita's comment produced an interesting translation in babelfish...

Theresa said...

Thoroughly enjoyed the newest installment of As the Coop Turns!

Clint Baker said...

Nice to meet you Mrs. Mean and the other chickens. I love these posts!

Donna OShaughnessy said...


Your Mrs Mean should meat my turkey "Banana". When a chicken gets in her way she grab it by the neck, shakes it back and forth and then FLINGS it across the barnyard. Funny in a sadistic sort of way. The chickens have learned great R-E-S-P-E-C-T for her!

Carolyn said...

Before getting chickens, I wouldn't have in a million years guessed that chicken lives would be so completely complex and interesting. And the fact that there are so many different personalities. Although we don't tend to let the "undesirable" traits get too far as those end up in the soup pot.

We've got one young rooster who acts like your Cowboy...no romancing, just runs like crazy towards the hen & does his thing. Except then, even when he's finished, he just stands on the hens instead of getting off! I've had to kick him off several just in the past few days. I can just imagine the hens thinking "get OFF me you Fat&*($@"!!

Dar said...

Mrs. Mean reminds me of a rooster my mother had, operative word, HAD! He kept attacking her...well, she was not going to have that every time she fed, watered and gathered. When I asked her why she still had him when she had another rooster for her dozen hens, she said, " Well, he has a nicer crow." Mr. Mean clawed her pretty good and he is no longer king of the roost. Moral, don't beat the hand that feeds you. Afterall, Mom is 83, patient, but not That patient.
Mom raises the same kind of chickens as you.

Renee Nefe said...

what does Mrs Mean think of Cowboy?

Sherri B. said...

This is the cutest post! Chickens are so funny..We have 2 Barred Rocks that we call The Stripey Sisters and they pick on the younger ones too...also chase off little birds that come to eat the cracked corn we scatter on the ground. - We are without a rooster now, My Mr. had to put him down on Sat. he quit crowing around Thanksgiving and then just started slowing way down, finally we found him laying down and couldn't get up. Hubby thinks it was just old age as he wasn't young when we got him. - This was a great post! xo

Leigh said...

Crustyrusty, of course I had to go check Babelfish. Hmm. It would appear Yahoo is more up on Spanish street slang than Google Translate!

Theresa, thanks! Makes up for not having a TV. :)

Clint, thanks!

Donna, I've never heard of such a thing, Funny for everybody but the chicken! We're thinking about getting some turkeys and I wondered if they got along with chickens.

Carolyn, amazing isn't it? Someone could write their dissertation on this. Your poor hens. They must run when they see him coming. ;)

Dar, I wouldn't have put up with it for a nice crow, LOL. Cute story.

Renee, initially she was ruthless with all the young cockerels. Now that Cowboy is the only rooster, she's the one who first started expecting him to hand over whatever he found to eat. She's small, only half his size, but doesn't think anything about pushing him out of the way. And he takes it.

Sherri, thanks! I've wondered about old age for chickens. Our oldest are actually just two years old, heading in to their 3rd summer. I doubt too many, except for the occasional rooster are allowed to get very old.

Anonymous said...

LOL the dynamics of the chickens is almost as good as watching a soap opera:) Thanks for sharing Leigh

Anonymous said...

Leigh, I gave you the Liebster award:) Check my blog for info on passing it on.

Jocelyn said...

Chickens are funny people. Mine make me laugh all the time.

I'm glad there's a bit of harmony in your flock. Your roo sounds like one of mine-Beethoven. He's fresh and takes what he wants. He is un-gentlemanly about it. The only really nice roo I have is Copernicus. He shares with his girls and looks out for them. Mating is still rough, though. Poor girls.

CaliforniaGrammy said...

Great chicken post, Leigh! We have no rooster but there seems to be a pecking order, somewhat, in our flock of eight. The other day I even saw one of them jump up on top of another...the one on the bottom seemed puzzled. I am sure she was thinking "What the heck?" They are entertaining to watch, much better than watching TV!

* Crystal * said...

LOL, thanks for the evening laugh! :)

My new roo, Big Red is a combo of your boys. He does his deed rodeo style, but he finds food for the girls, I'd very friendly & if we hand him something big (bread for instance), he'll run it straight to his favorite girl we call Hoppy. She's a Jersey Black Giant that screwed up her leg as a chick, she waddles around, but when she "runs" she hops :) Big Red always stands by her nesting area when she lays, & always takes her bits of food..

Love the personality chickens have! And I must say, that last pic of Mrs. Mean shows quite a bit of personality :)

Leigh said...

Stephanie thanks! For both the comment and the award. I really don't qualify for the award though. :)

Jocelyn, chickens are hilarious! Who would have known? Any yeah, chicken mating is rough. Some of my girls refuse to cooperate. It's interesting too, how different roosters can be.

Janice, now that is puzzling! Mrs. Mean though, doesn't batt an eye at "beating" somebody up. She was at it again yesterday, chasing them all away from the hay feeder, where some of them like to lay. Not sure what I'm gonna do with that gal.

Crystal, that is so interesting about your rooster! Who would have known they could have favorites.

bspinner said...

I loved reading this blog posting. You could write a book, Leigh. So fun and interesting. I feel like I know the chickens.

Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking said...

Oh your chickens are so adorable!!

Betty Bohemian said...

I was concerned my "new" chickens would get the snot beat out of them by my existing hens, but they actually segregated themselves! My pen HAD a some divider down the center so the ducks could muck up their side and the chickens could have there own. When I brought in 4 more chickens the divider was partially removed so all the birds could have more room. For the first month the old chickens lived with the ducks and the new chickens claimed the chicken side. 6 weeks now and everyone is happy!

Leigh said...

Barb thanks! Working on the book. :)

Alicia, I think so too. :)

Betty, it's always a puzzle as to how they will work these things out! Love how yours did. :)