I think we’ve had the hens for 6 months now, and I can confirm the Barred Rock variety are very sweet and gentle. They put up with an awful lot of “playing” from a little girl, and don’t seem to mind being carried around often. Said little girl has yet to suffer any chicken scratches, which constantly amazes me.
I wanted to comment that while they are very charming to look out the window and see scratching around the flower beds, that if you are very just-so about your garden you will either have to be raking up everything their scratching puts out of place…
or else you’ll have to learn to be a little tolerant of things being out of place. The hens always scratch along the path of least resistance, so that means the bark chips fly back onto the pathways or anywhere except around the plants. I’m hoping it will pay off next spring in fewer pill bugs and earwigs, fingers crossed.
We did have to put up a temporary fence to keep them out of the garden, otherwise there would never have been any ripe tomatoes. And they ate all the lettuce, too.
I think I’d also suggest starting with at least 3 hens instead of only 2. Remember one of our hens was a rooster? We’re just lucky we had a friend to trade with, or else we’d have only one hen now — and no animal likes to be alone all the time. Starting with three also means if we lose someone over the winter, or to a predator, there’s still two. And while we already have more eggs than we can eat, there’s always someone willing to take the extras off our hands.
Tomorrow I’m thinking of turning a dozen eggs into a jar of pickled eggs. I’ve never actually eaten one that I remember, but the recipe says they stay good for 6 weeks when refrigerated. Anyone have good memories of pickled eggs?
Also, I was musing about how the tradition of eggs-for-breakfast started. Our hens lay their eggs between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., so they don’t quite match the picturesque ideal of sending daughter out to gather a basketful every morning before breakfast. Either people used to let the eggs just sit out until the next day, and then gathered, or else that only happens in movies.