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A Peek Inside the Hen House

Among my list of favorite things about working at a farm is that from my office window I get to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the barnyard. This means I get to watch a lot of exciting distractions throughout the day — escapee lambs running wild in the yard, chickens free ranging under my window; I’ve even been greeted by a hog once. Never a dull day at the farm!

High on the list of favorite things is definitely watching the heritage hens free range and be chicken-like.

One afternoon I noticed that Polly, our livestock manager, was having a particularly challenging time getting all of the hens back into their coop for the evening, so I helped. (I’m always eager for the break from the computer screen!) With Polly at the coop guarding the door I rounded up the stragglers. Our dialogue at this point was what inspired this blog post:

Polly: Is that all of them? Me: Yes, a spotty chick, fluffy cheeks, fuzzy feet, and the Dominque. Polly: Strangely, I know exactly which breeds you’re talking about!

If you’ve visited the farm this year, you’ve likely to have encountered a few of the heritage chickens ranging freely around our barnyard and offices, each with their distinctive characteristics and personalities. While it’s easy for those who work with the animals regularly (like Polly) to know each animal, including the many breeds of chickens on the farm, for the rest of us it’s not so easy. To help with the identification of the chickens seen at the farm, below is a helpful guide along with my personal translations:


aka: “Dominique” I know these ones so I don’t have an alternative name for them, though they look similar to the Plymouth Barred Rock (or Rock Chick).

DSC_0709 dominique

Sussex (Speckled)