Yesterday began Elaine's and my foray into raising heritage Rhode Island Red chickens. Brice Yocum, who operates Sunbird Farms in California, shipped us five eight-week-old birds which arrived in much confusion. Brice shipped them overnight on Tuesday, but the quintet did not arrive on Wednesday or Thursday morning.
When we began to fear for the birds' survival, as they were traveling from California to Botetourt County, Virginia, Elaine received a call from the Troutville Post Office that they had arrived and needed to be picked up by noon.
Once here, though, the youngsters seemed none the worse for their cross country junket, and after I put them in the chicken tractor, the chicks began busily foraging. Our daughter Sarah and grandson Sam also came over to see the newcomers. The next problem was introducing them to our two-year-old chickens: Ruby, Little Spotty, Tallulah, and Dot.
Predictably, Ruby, our alpha female, erupted in loud squawking and bit a chunk of feathers out of one of the chicks. Dot, who often pecks us, attacked one of the chicks and was about to do so to another one. But Dot had picked on the largest of the chicks, which I already had identified as the alpha male of the two young roosters that arrived.
The cockerel stood his ground at Dot's advance, flared his wings to make himself look bigger, and, to my great interest, Dot quickly backed down. This cockerel clearly has potential as a future flock leader.