In which I spend a lot of time with my dear Minerva Louises

The chickens' Winter Palace is mostly finished now. We erected this amazingly ugly orange net (uh, it was free) over the roof-parts of the garden to keep chickens IN and predatory birds OUT. So far, so good...
however, the hens have shown a preference for roosting in the net at night rather than in the henhouse. I go out in the evenings and shoo them into the house to sleep--it's warmer there, ladies, and winter is coming!

They have also shown a decided reluctance to lay eggs in the beautiful nesting boxes that Jim built inside the coop. In fact, despite brightly-colored "helper" eggs in the nest boxes, the hens sleep in the boxes and lay eggs in a little corner of the coop, near the back door. I must say: it's certainly more convenient to collect them there!

Some of the hens are quite friendly, and will follow me around the enclosure while I take pictures. They even like to be scratched on the shoulder blades, between the wings. Huh. I never would have guessed that.
Most of my photos from the Palace grounds are of chicken bums. Even when I think I'm going to get a lovely shot of a beautiful hen looking around with something vaguely resembling comprehension, when the lens actually clicks it's almost always full of tail feathers.


And then there's this hen:
She's very, uh, handsome, isn't she?

Sorta. Uhm. Well. Kinda, um. Masculine?

I admit that I don't know a bunch about chickens, and I know even less about roosters.

Technically, I realize that a rooster is a male chicken. Since we keep our hens for egg production only, and not "additional chicken production", we have no use for a rooster.

(Ahem. Hens will lay eggs without a rooster anywhere nearby, just as human ladies will ovulate with no men around. That was tactful, wasn't it? This is a FARM BLOG, after all)

It is, however, really difficult to discern roosters from hens when they are young, and even at this stage of adulthood, they look pretty much alike. I've always know that you can tell Barred Rock roosters from hens because the roosters are the ones who

a.) attack you
b.) cock-a-doodle-doo

Jim says that if she's a he, he won't admit it because when they were little, he would sing to the flock "cock-a-doodle-doo, make me into stew". Apparently he still sings that, because if that lady is a man, she's not telling anybody about it!

This hen is definitely a hen. I watched her lay an egg this morning. Isn't she pretty?


  1. That would be one of those non-egg laying variety of chickens you have there. If you have just one, I'd just leave him be. They can be very entertaining, and not all that loud.

    When we had chickens, we taught them to go in to their little pen at night. We fed them in there, and as it would start to get dark, just herded them in to the pen. Eventually they learned to go there on their own each evening.

    BTW, they are some beauties! Even the boy. lol

  2. TXTRIGGER: I give up! How can you tell? If I look at the undercarriage, all I see is feathers.

    (please don't ask me if I've done this...!)

    Aside from his obvious good looks, what are the clues? Is he planning to start cock-a-doodling anytime soon? Will he attack me?


  3. Heh-heh-heh...stew...heh....

    But only if he outs himself and develops certain undesirable rooster-ish traits.

    (nope. nothing but hens here. no-sir, just us chickens, that's all.)

    clifin: chillin', on a cliff.

  4. The Minervas are beautiful, each and every one! I know nothing about chickens, or how to determine chicken gender, but I think they're beautiful and smarter than most people think.

  5. LOL at what Kate said. Smarter than people! I love it.

    You know I'm scared of them, but I would like to pet a nice one someday.

    I love their black and white coloring. Goes with my horse, my tack, my old gothic clothes.

    Wish we had fresh eggs.


  6. Oops, I thought she said "Smarter than most people I think."


  7. I'm not sure that the Minervas are least, not in an "evolutionarily sound" kind of way. They are pretty, though.

    Sort of like Luna, actually. Perhaps my little dog was a chicken in a past life?

    Still not sure about Mister Minerva, though. Is she really a rooster? I can't tell!

  8. Ok, ok, here's my chicken knowledge. It COULD be a boy, but the chances seem slim, read on. Also, not all boys attack. We had a very nice one and we have had "Joe, get me the GUN!" boys... which were dispatched poste haste. But all boys do crow and really, he should have started that by now. Some hens have big combs, and since he doesn't have the accompanying tail feathers... all boys have plumage and he would have those too by now... I don't believe I am going out on a limb here to say: you got a hen with a big comb.

  9. Okay, in order to tell, you need to be able to catch them. Catch them and then put your hand between their legs - yes, for realz. A hen is going to have very wide-set pubic bones, like about 3 fingers width apart, in order for the eggs to come out. A rooster will only have a finger or maybe two width between his legs.

    From a former State Fair Round Robin person...

    ~ C

  10. Some of the hens at the farm like being scratched between the shoulder blades also. When you reach down, they flatten out in anticipation.

    Let us know if/when he "comes out".

  11. Look at his crowd. It just looks a bit bigger than the girls.

    But he should be crowing by now. Of course the ax on the stump by the hen house has him scared to do so ;-)


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