It’s no secret that the chickens are a central point at Dalrymple Farm. We talk about them to anyone who will listen, spend countless hours tending to them, lose sleep over them when one is sick, and research for hours on end to be as knowledgeable as possible so that we can be the best chicken tenders we can be.
They can be a downright colorful bunch, quite literally. We have an array of breeds, colors, sizes and personalities that mesh together and create the most perfect flock of chaos we never knew we needed.
And so it’s only fair that we introduce you to the real stars of this show; the chickens. Wednesday is HENSDAY around here, so join us every Wednesday as we spotlight a weekly unique character.
Our story with Rango actually starts with two other chickens we had before him. Way back in May, we had started our chick journey with 4 sweet little chicks. We lost half . So I ventured to TSC for some replacements, and was after a little bit bigger size of chicks, hopefully older and a little more durable. And in the pen were 2 big chicks, a head above all the others. The box said Rhode Island Red, the clerk said “oooh you should get these 2 sisters. They are the best mama hens.” I was sold. Hello, Thelma and Louise, you’re coming home with me.
As time progressed and knowledge was gained… We learned that they were actually cornish cross chicks, also known as “meat chickens” and that their coloring actually told us they were BOYS. My Thelma and Louise quickly changed to Willie and Waylon. We had bought these chicks as pets, and were not interested in using them for meat… So we decided to just let them live as long as they could. Waylon O.D.’d in Denver early on, unfortunately, but Willie, just like his namesake, lived forever. For 8 months. That’s like 4 lifetimes in Cornish cross years.
Willie left us on a Sunday and on Monday I awoke to no crowing. It broke my heart. That night a friend of ours had posted she had a rooster she needed to part with. It was one that she hatched out, and now her original rooster was picking on the new guy and he needed a new home. I went to comment on it asking if he was mean and my husband had already commented saying “I think we want him, let me talk to Becky.” That was all the conversation we needed to have and I said we’ll take him! I really believe that was God’s perfect timing, because he immediately filled a void and has been the best rooster we could ask for.
I was nervous to introduce him to the girls. I hoped it was like when they recast an actor on a TV show and everyone pauses for just a sec and says… “Oh. That’s the rooster” and carries on. Thankfully they all meshed immediately. Dylan was actually the one to name him, claiming there was a new sheriff in town and “no one tangos with the Rango” 🤠 He is a sapphire gem and Plymouth rock mix which is why he has such an awesome array of colors. He takes such good care of the girls, protecting them and leading them to food, that I swear I could just sit an watch him for hours. When treats are out you can really see him work. He makes his certain “food cluck” and the girls come running. Everyone else will have their heads down, munching away, but he will be popped up right in the middle of them keeping watch. Sadly, he did get a little frost bit on his comb over this cold winter, while not a single lady did, and I know that’s because he was making sure they were warm and safe before he worried about himself. He’s never mean, not even to the kids the way some roosters can be, however we are trying to introduce a bantam rooster to go with our bantam girls, and Rango isn’t taking too kindly to that. He wants to be the only ruler of this roost.
Hennifer is one of the first chickens I’ve ever gotten that I didn’t raise from a chick… My Aunt tagged me in a post of a large flock needing to find a new home, thinking I’d say “heck no I already have 22 chickens, I don’t need to get any more”… But see, they had chicken breeds that I did not. And chickens are like a country folks’ pokemon, you gotta catch em all. So I gave my husband, Dylan, about 20 seconds to change my mind and when he didn’t, I messaged the woman on Facebook telling her I wanted some of her chickens. Dylan looked at the photo of the flock, as I’m expecting him to say my chickens and I needed to move out, and he picked out a pretty speckled one he wanted too. This is why we work so well together.
So I get my father in law to take me to pick up these chickens. We got lost, turned around, given bad directions, and it was just a journey to get there from the get go. When we finally arrived, the woman who I had discussed which chickens I wanted ended up having to work, so her husband helped me gather them up. He said “Oh the speckled leg bar I know just which one”. He scooped her up, I said Hello and we stuck her in the chicken box Dylan built so that I could collect all the chickens I
don’t really need. I didn’t exactly closely inspect her… We decided to name her Hennifer. My husband’s mom and my mom are both named Jennifer, and we thought she would feel right at home… But see Hennifer had other plans. That bird flew away from home every chance she got. There was nothing, and I mean NOTHING she couldn’t jump and fly over. As we were spending 2 hours looking for her the next day, I got a call from the woman I got her from that we had picked up the wrong chicken and someone was there waiting to get her… I hated to admit to her that I had LOST this chicken, and if only I could find her I’d be happy to bring her back. But Hennifer was no where in sight. Right as we were about to give up, and I was making a lost ad for a chicken, she struts back over. At this point, she is again my chicken, and that family waiting for her at her old owners house went home with a different one. She was stuck with us, or maybe we were the ones stuck with her.
That night as we are checking the coop before we lock up for the night, we realize Hennifer is missing… Again. Just as I’m about to start looking outside for her, I see something perched above my husbands head like some crouching tiger hidden chicken. Hennifer is happily nested in the rafters of the coop. I have never lost a chicken, never seen one jump over 7 feet, and never had a chicken in the rafters… Until Hennifer. We ended up having to clip her wings… Twice. She still managed to escape to the neighbors after the first clipping and so our little runaway is now officially grounded. She’s adjusted pretty well since then, certainly established herself high up on the pecking order, and is always the first to spot treats. We believe she is a cream leg bar but possibly mixed with something else as her coloring isn’t that consistent with what we’ve seen of other leg bars. She is rather sassy, maybe even a little grumpy, doesn’t let anyone get too close, but has accepted that she was meant to be ours whether we meant to get her, or whether she likes it, or not.
When this Bantam Cochin was a wee little baby, it was before we found our forever home in the country, our chicks lived in a swimming pool in our garage. While I was cleaning out their pin one day, I put the babies in a box lid on the garage floor for just a second. Gatlin, my youngest, was playing on our lawn mower, having a total NASCAR moment, and you see, my husband is a tree man so its not uncommon for chainsaws to be laying around, and the largest one he owns was laid across the hood of the lawnmower. Gatlin’s playing, inducing death-wobble like shakes, jarred the chainsaw right off the hood and can you guess where it fell? Right on my box lid of babies. Most scurried, but the blade pinned this little lady to the ground. I was so certain she was dead. I quickly threw off the saw and scooped her up. She was a bit stunned but no evident injuries. A couple hours went by and I expected her to pass anytime, certain I brought her to an untimely demise. A day went by, then 2 and she kept on a truckin’… And so, basically we decided that what doesn’t kill you… You get named after. Her and her sister, Flash, are both bantam, basically meaning “dwarf”, and are as big as they’ll ever get. Cochin chickens have feathered feet, as do our little ladies. They lay the sweetest mini eggs, although they only lay about half the year, are a tad skittish around all people, as I guess you would be, too, when the first person you encountered brained you with a chainsaw… but they are the sweetest little things that hold their own just fine in a flock of hens double their size.
I searched high and low for a picture of Groot by herself, but you see if Groot is out of the coop, she is most likely being held. Gatlin’s self-proclaimed “best friend”, Groot basically gets the celebrity treatment around here. Most chickens aren’t necessarily crazy about being held. Some can be really curious about us humans, follow us around and be friendly, but to actually WANT to be held is unique in our flock, except with Groot. It’s mostly Gatlin’s fault, really. He picks her up, takes her with him, and I’ve even come across him laying down watching the clouds with Groot in his arms. Groot has a rather profound beak, and so my husband thought she should be named Gru, like the Dad from Despicable Me. We started calling her Gru, but the boys heard Groot, like ‘I am Groot’ from the Avengers, and the name just stuck. She is often confused for a barred rock, but is actually a Dominique breed of chicken. She is only about 6 months old, so her comb still isn’t full size, but once she matures she will have a much more distinguished, almost dimpled comb rather than the usual flowered comb of chickens. Dominiques are actually considered “the first chicken of America” because this is the breed of chicken that the pilgrims brought over with them to America. They are incredibly friendly, making the perfect pet chicken, which is characteristically true for Groot as well. She is wonderfully playful, like tugging on sweatshirt strings or pecking at bib buttons (and occasionally grabbing hold of braided hair). She eats food right out of Gatlin’s hand, lets him carry for her hours on end as he pets her and tells her how cute she is, and on the small chance that he does put her down, she stands there at our feet like “Hellooo?! Pick me back up. We have adventures to go on!”