A bit of a love hate relationship exists – we love to let the chickens out and let them free- range but we have to accept that they choose what to eat and trample in .Newly edged borders resemble quarries in a matter of minutes once a new area becomes a dust bath. They are noisy- although to us they have become white noise. And so they are situated at the furthest lest profitable end of the garden, under the trees so that their plumage doesn’t bleach.
If have kept chickens for over twenty years, always pure breeds, from Marins, Cotswold Cream Legbars, Sussex, Scots Dumpy , Pekins and Orpingtons. Over the years the fox has had a fair share, so we now have a ten foot enclosure for our flock of Orpingtons. I have always had Orpingtons and they are by far the easiest in temperament. The cockerels ( and we have two) are docile with me and with each other; the birds through size are not flighty. However the Orpingtons ( favoured by the Queen Mother) are very loosely feathered making them look bigger than they really are and they feathers are easily dislodged by the cockerel and so take on an oven-ready appearance if not watched. I do use poultry saddles when necessary.
We have Buff Orpingtons and blue running with a cockerel of each. One hen is Splash bred from blues; Blue Orpingtons do not breed true. The splash hen is particularly photogenic although in winter she does go a rather reddish colour on account of being stained by mud.