Hens are their most productive in their first two years. After that, some lay a few eggs weekly, some lay none. The hens in the Little Barn are all elderly and are retired from daily egg laying. Watch this flock on HenCam. See inside their coop on InsideCam.
Little Barn Chickens
Edwina is now an elderly (hatched in spring 2005) and slow Barred Rock, but in her day she and her sister Eleanor ruled the flock. She hasn’t laid an egg for a couple of years, but has earned their keep.
Twinkydink is an Australorp. Her black feathers shimmer with greens and rust colors; she is especially beautiful on sunny days. Australorps are classic big laying hens. Twinkydink was often broody, but when not she was a good layer of big brown eggs. She hatched in the spring of 2005, and so now is retired.
Buffy arrived here from another backyard flock, where she was in danger at the bottom of the pecking order. She has gained status since coming here, but is a quiet hen and keeps mostly to herself. Hatched summer 2006.
Snowball was such a wonderful character that I decided to get more bantam White Leghorns. Betsy is a tad shyer than Snowball was, but did do her share of school visits playing the role of “Tillie.” Betsy is now retired. Hatched early spring of 2007.
Big Barn Chickens
Most of the chickens in the Big Barn were hatched April 25, 2011 at a large midwestern hatchery, and shipped here through the United States Postal Service. I call them "the Gems" because they are named after rocks and famous women geologists. Watch these hens on the BarnCam.
Agatha Agate, Etheldred and Florence
These three are Speckled Sussex. Unlike the Orpingtons, who look and act alike, these hens, though of the same breeding, are unique unto themselves. In fact, all of the Speckled Sussex that I’ve had have all been full of character—friendly, active, curious and demanding. They might be my favorite breed. Florence is named after Florence Bascom, the first woman hired by the United States Geological Survey (in 1896). She is the smallest, quickest and smartest of the three. Etheldred is named after Etheldred Benett (1776–1845), who was a female geologist in Britain at a time when there were very few women scientists. My Etheldred is large, calm and always hungry. She has the most white on her head. Agatha Agate is a very, very sweet hen of very little brain. She likes to sit on laps. She likes children. She would never peck anyone. Agatha is the perfect hen for school visits and is adored by many.
This Barnevelder’s brown and green feathers have an iridescent glow in sunlight. She is a mild-mannered bird with a personality that keeps her in the background of the flock. Barnevelders lay milk-chocolate colored eggs. She is an easy-to-care for hen and a pleasure to have in the flock.
Jasper is a Welsummer, which is a light-weight breed. She is very pretty, and is curious, active and gentle. She is the only hen that has been picked on. For some reason, the other girls like to pluck out the feathers at the base of her tail. I’ve tried all sorts of remedies, but to no avail, and although it makes her look scrawny, it doesn’t seem to bother her. Jasper tolerates the feather-picking and no blood is drawn. Her eggs are dark brown. She is a very nice hen to have around.
This Buff Orpington is true to her breed – she is of moderate activity and temperament, calm and personable. She lays medium-brown eggs a few times a week. However, However, unlike most Buff Orpingtons, Amber never goes broody. She often accompanies me when I visit schools and libraries.
This mostly white hen is a Delaware, a breed developed for both meat and eggs. Despite her size, Opal is not at the top of the pecking order. She is a good forager, and yet calm and placid. Her eggs are large and light brown.
Pearl is a Cochin with blue-grey feathers. Cochins have masses of soft feathers all the way down to their toes. This makes them very pretty, but also high maintenance. They suffer in the heat, and when it is cold, get mud and snow stuck to their feet. Cochins are heavy-bodies birds, so waddle more than run. Pearl is a sweet, mellow bird.
Garnet and Ruby
These Rhode Island Reds (RIRs) look much alike. Garnet wears a leg band so that I can tell them apart. RIRs are sturdy, winter-hardy, active hens that tend to be dominant in the flock. They need a lot of room and things to do or they can become aggressive to the other chickens, so they are not the best for small urban spaces. They lay large brown eggs.
Not one of the Gems! Polish Crested hens have outrageous bouffant hairdos, and personalities to match. They are active, curious, and ditzy. When they do lay (they are not consistent producers) the eggs are long and white. Siouxsie came to us from a coop that was too crowded. The other hens pecked at her white pouf (irresistible!) In my flock she is no longer on the bottom of the pecking order. I keep the top feathers trimmed in the winter so that they don’t get wet and freeze. Polish Crested are not low maintenance birds! Hatched in the spring of 2009. Siouxsie was aggressive towards other birds in the Little Barn so she has been moved in with the Gems.
There are other animals to get to know here at Little Pond Farm. Read their bios here.
The Beast arrived at Little Pond Farm in 2003 when she was a little fish, no longer than two inches. She looked pretty – all white, with a big black spot on the top of her head. But as this koi grew, the spot didn’t, and now she is a pale peachy color. The Beast lives year-round in the water feature that we call a “pond.” There’s a big rock, with a fish cave under it, where this huge, savvy old fish stays safe from Great Blue Herons, and hibernates in the winter. Smaller goldfish, and goldfish/koi mixes keep her company.
Lily and Scooter
Both of these dogs came from rescue organizations. Lily’s mother was probably part Border Collie, but Lily is mostly Rat Terrier. She’s smart and has a high prey drive. She’s a good farm dog – she chases hawks out of the sky and keeps raccoons away. She was born sometime in April, 2003
Scooter’s mom was a mixed-breed stray, and dad was obviously a Chihuahua. Scooter’s job is to be a pest to Lily to keep her busy (he gets her to play by biting her toes). They are our comedy duo. Scooter was born January 8, 2007.
Pip and Caper
Pip and Caper are twin brothers, born on April 26, 2009 at Village Haven Farm in Maine. They are purebred Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats. Pip and Caper are pets. They’re gelded males, and their only job is to delight and amuse – which they do very well! They also help to keep the back meadow free of briars and poison ivy.
Caper is the goat with the darker splotches. He is the talkative, loud boy, and the smarter of the two. Pip has the caramel-colored markings, appears to be always smiling, and is the domineering one (you’ll see him butt Caper away from the food.)