In my flock of chickens, not counting the Silkies, there are Rhode Island Reds, Araucanas (Easter Eggers), and Plymouth Barred Rocks. I used to have both black and buff Orpingtons, and once had a white Leghorn. The pullets, now full-grown, card-carrying egg layers, are sex-link chickens. Sex-links are crossbred chickens in which males and females can be identified by a color differentiation (don't ask me how they do this). Determining sex is an important factor when one buys chicks, and it's a specialized profession. That job is made easier by the sex-links. Out of a previous batch of purchased chicks, I ended up with two roosters, two roosters too many, and that's why I paid a little more for these hen chicks. The littlest little girls are red with white tails, easy to identify among the others, although it's difficult to tell them apart individually. Except for Ginger.
Ginger continues to "fly the coop" daily. Sometimes she coerces one or two of her "sisters" to join her, but generally she goes it alone. Chickens are such social creatures, I wonder if she is lonely, scratching in the leaves, snatching up bugs in the orchard, nesting in the hay barn all by herself. I've noticed that she doesn't go far from the pen. With darkness falling early now, the bedtime pattern has changed. Goats being scaredy-cats, they have to go to their rooms first. Their water trough gets topped off on my way back, and then I get the chickens' nighty-night treats. Opening the back door to the feed room, I find Ginger waiting at the bottom of the steps. She follows, watching as I tuck in the Silkies and shut their door, clucking quietly as if also saying good night. The last job of the evening is closing up the big hen house. I hear the pitter patter of little feet in the leaves as Ginger follows close on my heels, coming in directly behind me now with no coaxing. I don't know whether it is the treats or the companionship that draws her; it doesn't matter. I like welcoming her home at night.