Oh, Agatha!

I let my hens free range only when I can stay outside with them and keep an eye out for predators. In the summer, they get to forage for long stretches while I garden, but in the winter the outings are shorter and less frequent. There’s a limit to how long that I can stand around in freezing temps watching the girls.

The old hens are as eager as the young ones to get out, but then they don’t do much more than find a place in the sun and wait to go back into their pen.

The 19 month old Gems, though, rush out and spread across the lawn to forage.

All of them, except for Agatha.

She sees me. She sees the camera. She wants to know what’s what.

This is why I’ve included three Speckled Sussex in my spring chick order. There’s bound to be another inquisitive, friendly and slightly bonkers hen like Agatha in the bunch. Every flock should have one.



  1. My 2 Speckeled Sussexs Gloria and Latrelle, are quite Inquistive and nuts, I can not keep Latrelle in the chicken yard she insists on touring the whole yard by way of flying over a 6 ft fence, After the the wind from Sandy, it blew part of my stockade fence apart creating a gap that I did not see, well while I was at work she decided to go through it, when I arrived home from work it was dark and the hens were in bed, I closed the door to thier house and did a head count, and Latrelle was missing… I searched the yard to no avail. the next day my neighbor called me and told me she spotted my chicken she was trying to cross the road to come home, I couldnt leave work, and the neighborhood kids would be home soon so I told my neighbor, to have the kids catch her and put her back in my yard… To which they did with success, with the help of a fishing net…

    Now we all know the answer to the question, Why did the chicken cross the road???? To get home.

  2. I have loved Agatha since I saw the video of you calling them into their pen, but you had to go back and pick up Agatha. She reminds me of my 5 year old grand daughter.

  3. Lol, she is a doll. And I am glad you will be getting some more speckled sussex. I also suspect you will be getting copper marans as well. Any more hits of breeds, maybe some plymouth white rock, or australorp, or houdan ? I don’t know about the Polish, I am hopeful, but doubting.Maybe something something other than the more popular black and white Polish ? I also know more cochins aren’t to be, or silkies. As much as I love salmon favorelles, I know their have been problems with the hatchery stock. And their problem’s make Pearl’s look simple. I also know Naked Necks are out, and so are frizzled cochins. More Delware like Opal I am more certain off, Orphington’s maybe, but maybe something other than Buff colored, or not. Rhode Island red’s maybe. Hybrids of any kind, no. I am sure though in your new batch of speckled sussex you will find your Lulu again, and you will have ever more laughs than before.

    • PS Will you be building a third coop, maybe a smaller one for the older girls so that you can move the Gems to the the smaller hen coop ? Also it will be funny if no one goes broody in April, when you need them espically your two crazy broody buffs. Probably they instead of Pearl wil go broody, or to be really out their Betty or Buffy in their dottage will be the only ones to go broody. Then you will have 90 year old aged hens raising the chicks as first time mothers. It would also be funny if end up finally getting a rare sociopathic Buff Orphington, like another certain’s blooger beautiful but very much a sociopath buffy orphington. I know her flock is getting older and it be neat if the two of you could raise some new babies together.

  4. We too have a Speckled Sussex named, The Queen, and she is the first one to run to the gate when she hears by truck at night. She is also the one that sticks closest when I’m pulling weeds and trimming bushes. We have long conversations about all kinds of stuff. She’s a good friend.

  5. Can’t wait to see what you will get in your new chick order. Do you have a limit on a “chicken head count”? I always thought 20 was a good number and then I don’t know what happened but I have 40. I think in the future I will keep it at 20…10 in each coop. :)

    • I like to keep it to under 20. More than that and I don’t know the individuals as well, and that’s a big part of the pleasure of hen keeping for me. Let me know if you ever get down to 10 in a coop. When you have room for more, it does tend to get filled up, doesn’t it? :)

  6. Oh dear, Agatha, you darling hen.
    This spring we are bringing home
    chicks, and this certainly has
    me considering Speckled Sussex!
    Terry, just so you know… I mentioned
    your wonderful blog in a post I put up.
    I am thankful for your gentle and practical
    advice on the health and safety of our

  7. Is Agatha the same one that flew into the fly trap tape? What a laugh they provide you and us.

    • No, that was Florence, another Speckled Sussex. I sure that Agatha would have, but she’s always been a bit… ahem… heavier.

  8. I am envious of your bright sunny day, and so are the girls. My hens are huddled together in their coop anxiously watching the wind harshly blowing the thick sleet sideways towards them. We situated their enclosure so we could view the Hens from our house on days like today and I am forever grateful. It makes me wonder though, if their eyesight is keen enough for them to see me gawking at them through my window and are giving me the stink-eye?

  9. I laughed out loud when I got to the 2nd picture of Agatha and your description. This curiosity is what I love most in my chickens, along with that strangely comical beauty. So photogenic. I can stare at your portrait shots for a long time, just enjoying the details. The strange, odd, incredibly imaginative way the Creator could even think up such a creature. Who woulda thunk?

  10. Oops, I was so dazzled by Agatha that I forgot the point I really wanted to make. “My” winged predators will attack within just a few feet of me, so I make a tent of that electric chicken fencing. One long row, or tent, with the tops of each side of fencing meeting to touch at the top. A hawk did recently attempt an attack and ended up shaken up, hobbling to a nearby rock before she flew off. I don’t have the fence charged, so I still have to watch for fox and other four-leggers.

  11. I just had my first egg. :-) I am new to chickens, I live in Las Vegas. I have had some problems. Lost some pullets, but think I am getting better. Never knew chickens would hurt each other. Looking forward to more of your sage advise. Thank you for your help.

  12. I too love Agatha! The way you have described her is so endearing. From the photo it looks as if Jasper has never grown back her tail feathers after the molt? I thought perhaps after the molt her buddy would stop eating Jasper’s feathers and they would return. My wish list includes Speckled Sussex, Barnevelder and Faverolle. Onyx is so beautiful. Looking forward to your baby chicks!

  13. Yes, and next thing you know Jasper will be asking if those feathers make her rump look fat.

  14. Love your blog! The post on friendships was especially moving. :) Due to the loss of our dear Hope this year, we have a few new girls on the way in the spring. A Rhode Island Red bantam, a Welsummer bantam and a Maran bantam. Can’t wait to see how thier personalities develop!

  15. Candy got bored in her hutch alone so she she braved the rain drops to go visit the girls. She looks happy now. I have been checking back regularly today because I didn’t see Buffy this morning. Seems she blends in really well with the plywood! Sneaky little hen. <3
    Slow work day…..

    • I keep checking on Buffy, too. She’s been weak in her legs and sitting on her hocks. But she’s been eating as much as ever, and no one is picking on her, so she’s still ticking!