The Gems’ First Outing

On Wednesday I opened the door and let the Gems out onto the lawn. They were hesitant, but Agatha led the way. After all, she reasoned, if I was out there, it must be safe.

Little Blue Sapphire needed a little coaxing, but she soon joined the flock. She very much liked the soft, green footing.

The Gems introduced themselves to the goats.

The old hens were eager to get a closer look at the interlopers.

Time for the two flocks to meet.

Buffy was uninterested.

But Opal, the top hen (rooster?) of the Gems, so sure of herself, after weeks of barging into the other girls, grabbing food, and basically throwing her considerable size around, took that attitude right to Philomena. It was a mistake.

After Agnes let Opal know what’s what, Coco had her say. Look at the body language on that little bantam! Opal didn’t dare get close enough to even chest thump.

I was hoping that this would happen. Opal has become increasingly aggressive. She goes gallumping through the Gems, making them run willy nilly out of her path. She’s a bully. (Or a rooster, or both.)

Her attitude is much better today.


  1. Awww, poor Opal. She found herself on the low side of that pecking order! I need to let my chicklets out of their pen, but I have 2 hens that are getting more aggressive as they get older and I’m not sure how to deal with that:-/ I think after this next heat wave over the weekend, I’m just going to have to cowgirl up and let them out. Under my supervision, of course.

  2. If Opal turns out to be a “HE”, what will you do with him ? Give him to Ken ? I hope it is a girl because she sure is pretty.

  3. maybe Opal appreciates knowing she doesn’t have to be top hen; that is a lot of work, after all. my miss bossy pants is my ameraucana, Frittata (Fritta for short). other than her attitude there’s nothing about her that makes me think she’s a roo in disguise and my other potential roo seems to have settled into a lovely mini-hen after all. i can’t wait for the fresh eggs!!

  4. Boy Agnes was having none of that Opal ‘tude!!

    Did Anges flog Opal or was body language enough intimidation?

    Also, I am amazed you still have green grass in the Gems run.

    • The grass was planted before I got the chicks. I expect it will be gone by the end of the summer. They do have a digging/compost area which takes the stress off of the grass.

  5. Hmm, I am surprised Buffy wasn’t intrested in the other Buff orpingtons, acourse they are probably still to young for her to realize that they look similair to her. Or she is too old to care any more. Sigh…this makes me miss Lulu all the more. She would have finally had three other hens that looked like and she could have finally had some minions to rule over. Lol, poor Agnes and Philomena they were probably so use to being the babies and bosses of the flock, in a few more months they will be having a bit more challenges. And go Coco, not much opportunity for a bantam to boss others around in a large size hen flock !!!! How did the Polish react to the babies ? Knowing them they probably couldn’t see them, and either totally freaked out or like Buffy ignored them. For Twinkie, Edwina and Eleanor this probably nothing new for them, having seen several young hens come and go before.
    As for Opal if he is a cockerel, why not keep him ? I have heard Delwares can be nice roosters. Is it because of your neighbor’s and the law in your part of the country that doesn’t allow you to keep roosters ? Or just personal choice ? A good rooster can be worth his weight in gold, protecting the flock and be quite a character if he is nice with people. Opal is still young enough for you to really hand tame, and to show that you are the alpha rooster. With 25 hens even a young hot and trot rooster would have his hands full mating with them all. I could see a problem of not wanting bare backed hens, but I think you have enough that he wouldn’t do that.

  6. I think Opal is warming up to the other girls as I see him/her cuddling with the others for an afternoon nap.

  7. Opal’s quite the sturdy girl. Her legs are like tree trunks!

  8. So Terry, what age do you consider best for letting the new girls in with the old flock? I have 2 pullets, 11 weeks old, who have so far been living in a separate but adjacent run. The girls on both sides of the wire are VERY interested in each other, but the big girls still seem peckishly inclined when they get close. The pullets (a Dominique and Orpington/Dominique cross) still look a LOT smaller than the big hens. My run area isn’t super big. Dare I try it now, or would it be better to wait until they are closer to full size?

    Though it seems silly to be asking chicken advice from across the country, I count you as my chief eggspert. :) I dearly wish I could come take your workshop. Maybe you could do it by Skype sometime?

  9. Hi Terry,

    When will you know if Opal is a rooster? We were at the Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay on Saturday and saw their Speckled Sussex – I think those Sussex chicks are my favorites. The Gardens were beautiful.

    • Would love to see those gardens! Opal is sure looking like a he, but I won’t be positive until he starts to crow, or lays an egg. Soon on the crowing, another 10 weeks for the eggs.