The chickens and their new home.
On the advice of Don at American Livestock Breeds Conservancy I was able to contact Steven Moize, who breeds the rare buckeye chickens. Scant minutes after I (sort of) finished the henhouse, I jumped in the car and raced up to Hurdle Mills.
Steven is farming land which has been in his family for 220 years, but he himself was raised in the suburbs, because his parents had fled the farm. The property lay vacant for years until Stephen and his wife decided to move back. They raise turkeys, chickens of various rare breeds, and have donkeys (more on that later).
Here are (I think) the buckeye pullets, my chickens' sisters. He put my three pullets in the cardboard box I brought and I carried them home.
I had to stop on the way to buy some rebar to build a fence - I'd thought they would just "free-range" during the day, but he said they'd need a few weeks to get their bearings and know where to come home to roost at night, so I cut up some of my leftover deerfence and made them a little paddock.
Then my friend Mitzi and I got a couple chairs and some cool drinks and opened the box.
It was clear there was a hierarchy already. One hen importantly stuck her head out of the box immediately to scout out the surroundings. One was not far behind; the third, it turns out, was being stood upon by the other two. Long after Captain and Number One had jumped impetuously and gracelessly over the edge, the stood-upon bird was still hesitant to emerge.
It was a brutally hot day and the chickens instantly realized the best place for them was under their house.
Two of them spent most of the afternoon perched on the edge of their water pot, periodically dipping their breast feathers into this improvised wading pool. The third got to sit on the adjacent paint can. Same view, but less water.
I was concerned it would be hard to catch them when it was time to put them in the house (at night chickens, aka Everybody's Favorite Meal, are stupefied in sleep and easy prey for raccoons and other marauders). However, I found them huddled together on one of our chairs and they were happy to be picked up one by one and plopped into the house. Next morning I took the following pictures of them exploring (if you could call it that). Now I realize I sound like one of those excruciatingly dull grandmothers whose pictures you flee from when they get hauled out, so I'll stop. For now.