Then a few emerged.....
Here come the girls!
Then after a little patient waiting they were all out into the evening sunlight, exploring this big new world of grass & wide open space replacing wood shavings & cage bars. They were quite skittish to start with & if one was spooked they would all scatter in all directions. But as they calmed down they proved to be friendly little things, gathering around me as I sat on the grass & letting me pat their backs like little puppy dogs! They are about 14 to 15 weeks old now we think. All eight of them are cross breeds and as they are hard to tell apart they are collectively known as the 'Dolly Birds'. Only one of them stands out as her rear is a lot paler than the rest, so she has been named 'Dolly Parton'.
The other hens were distracted with bread crumbs by my middle son whilst the little ones were released, but so far the older birds have shown little interest in them. The only problem we had was that when we tried to put the ducks away for the night the 'Dolly Birds' had all gathered by the pop hole blocking their way, so we literally had to shove them up to get the ducks in. Today the young 'uns have spent half their time inside the chicken house & half out with the rest of the birds & fingers crossed the only squabbling has been between themselves.
Here are the rest of the hens that they share the house with:
'Hattie' the Rhode Rock, lowest in the pecking order before the pullets
'Bella' the Bluebelle hen
'Chicken Licken' the Black Rock
'Mother Hen' the Lohmann Brown
'Dottie' the Speckledy hen
'Fanny' the Welsummer hen - the prettiest
'Annie' the Amber Star
'Belter' (front of picture - crossbreed), currently top of the pecking order
'Clara' the Light Sussex hen
And looking after all these girls is Rodney, our bantam cockerel, who has seen the number of hens increase rapidly since we bought a larger hen house recently (nick-named 'Chateau Des Oeufs'). He is about 6 or 7 years old now & starting to look weary so we are letting him see his time out before buying a new cockerel as we don't think he could face up to the competition.
Chateau Des Oeufs (note the roofing felt has been removed from one corner of the nesting boxes by very naughty goats!!)
I do love my chickens - there's something really homely about them. We get an average 10 eggs a day from them, which will increase as the pullets reach point of lay, but to me that is just an added bonus of keeping them. Being a bit of a mad old bird myself, I would have hens as pets even if they didn't lay!