I shouldn’t find it funny, really…that one of the most common questions people ask about our chickens is “Do they have names?”. Although having chickens as pets is trendy in some circles, it’s still not the norm…so given that most peoples’ context for chickens is what they’re having for dinner, it’s not that odd of a question. But yes, each of our 7 backyard chickens has a name…and their own distinct personality too.
No, we don’t cuddle with them, but we do pet them…and do consider them as part of our extended family….and with their daily gift of eggs, a productive part of our extended family! Although not as common, we’re also often asked if we plan on eating our chickens…the answer to that is, no – just their eggs. There’s just something a bit unsettling about eating something that you’ve named and spent a good bit time with. Wasn’t that at the heart of Wilbur’s story in Charlotte’s Web.
Introducing Our Ladies
Anyway, to ward off any additional name questions during our friends’ future visits to Scott Family Farm, I built a sign with each of their names to hang on their coop. Besides having some functional value, I think it also turned out really nice…adding a layer of homespun charm. Before I explain how I built the sign (below…if you’re interested), I think it only right for me to first introduce our ladies to you:
- Henny – A Barred Rock and our last remaining hen from our original 5, Henny was once paired with another Barred Rock named Penny…from the Henny Penny/Chicken Little folk tale. But poor Penny was killed by a possum during an early attempt at allowing our flock to free range. Despite the fact that Henny is one of our smaller hens, she’s the flock’s true Mother Hen…calm and a bit broody at times, but demonstrating where she stands in the pecking order whenever needed.
- Ginger – A Golden Comet (a sex-link hybrid between a Rhode Island Red rooster and Rhode Island White hen), Ginger is the first to greet us whenever we visit the coop. She is very social and is also always the first to the treat bucket.
- Merabeth – Another Golden Comet, Merabeth was effectively named by the farmer we bought her from when he suggested that we name her after Littlest One (either he was hard of hearing or I garbled my words…probably a little of both). Anyway, Merabeth is our most docile hen…letting us hold and pet her for as long we’d like.
- Polly – We felt like we needed to give Henny a friend after Penny’s unfortunate demise…so we got another Barred Rock and named her Polly…going off the “P” in Penny. Larger than Henny, Polly is a bit more skittish and if she’s not in the mood to be held she’ll flap the tar out of you.
- Mayzie – At the time we bought Merabeth, Polly, and Mayzie…Brown, our oldest daughter, was in a Dr. Seuss production playing the role of Mayzie…a beautiful, yet self-absorbed red bird. Being the reddest of our 3 Golden Comets we decided it was the perfect name for Mayzie.
- Marigold & Hazel – The last 2 additions to our flock were both Easter Eggers. We got Marigold & Hazel in a trade for “Lyle”…a white Silkie rooster – who was originally named “Lilly” because she/he/it was supposed to be hen…but wasn’t. We specifically wanted an Easter Egger because they lay green eggs…and bonus, our friends were gracious enough to give us 2! They are the most skittish of our flock…but I think that has more to do with the fact that they were not around humans as much when they were young than it does their breed.
- You may have noticed that I skipped the first name on the sign…Rosie Mae. Well that’s because she’s not a chicken at all, but our Mini-Rex bunny…who lives next door to the chickens in the left third of the coop…divided by chicken wire.
[If you want to get to get to know are ladies better, check out the video below that I produced after I originally published this post.]
How I Made the On the Farm Name Sign to Introduce Our Backyard Chickens
Making our On the Farm sign introducing our feathered friends (+1 bunny) was actually quite easy…and because I already had all the materials from previous projects, it cost me absolutely nothing.
What I Used:
- Miter saw
- Old tongue & groove flooring…weathered
- Britt’s Cricut machine to make the stencils for the writing on the sign.
- Painter’s tape
- Exterior black paint
- Thompson’s WaterSeal…clear multi-surface water proofer
- Small brass cup hooks painted black with Rust-oleum Painter’s Touch flat black indoor/outdoor spray paint
- 4 #8 eye screws
- Screw driver (to help tighten the hooks and eye screws)
- Wood glue
- Black nylon webbing…like what’s used for backpack straps
- Black chain left over from an exterior light fixture
What I Did:
- Made the name boards:
- Using my miter saw, I cut a single board to size for each name of our lovely ladies (approximately 28”).
- After spray painting the brass cup hooks black (since brass screams “new”) with Rust-oleum Painter’s Touch flat black indoor/outdoor spray paint, I measured and installed 2 hooks equidistant to the left and right on the top of each board (and I chose the “tongue” side to be the top so that water wouldn’t get caught in the “groove” if that side had been on top)…and then 2 hooks directly below to the left and the right on the bottom/“groove” of each board…so each board had 4 hooks total. Where it didn’t feel like the hooks gripped tightly enough, I added a blob of wood glue before screwing them in. (I probably should have done this with all of them, but I was already a third of the way through before I got to the first “loose” one…and my fingers were tired.)
- Finally, I twisted the top hooks so that they would open towards the back and the bottom hooks so that they were sideways. That way when I connected the signs everything would line up correctly.
- Using Britt’s Cricut machine we created a stencil for each of the hen’s names (and the words for the “head board”).
- Note, the Cricut font we used is Alphalicious. You can find it here. We “shadowed” the letters, tweaked the sizes at times to our liking, and for letters like “B” and “S” we flipped them so that the “fatter” end was on the bottom vs. top…just looked better to us.
- I adhered a name stencil on each of the individual name boards with painter’s tape…then using the same black exterior paint we’ve used for the doors and shutters of our home, I painted over the “negative” stencils…leaving the name painted on the sign.
- After the names dried, I removed the stencils and sanded everything down to make it look a bit more weathered…like the wood.
- Lastly, since the sign would be outside, I sprayed a thin coat of Thompson’s WaterSeal to on all sides of each board…hoping it would extend the life of everything a bit longer.
- Constructed the “head board”:
- I cut 2 boards 2” longer for the “head board”…from which all the other name boards would hang…one to the next.
- Using wood glue, I first glued the 2 boards together…tongue & groove style. Since everything else was going to hang from these boards, I added additional support by connecting the boards with a staple gun and some nylon webbing that I had left over from a previous project.
- I then painted the On the Farm stencil…and finished things off as I did the name boards. (I actually did all this painting and finishing at the same time I did the name boards.)
- Lastly, after one failed attempt at using the same smaller painted brass cup hooks to hang the name boards to the “head board”, and then it to the coop, I ended up using larger zinc eye screws (#8) on the “head board”…and then I connected the black chain to the top eye screws.
That’s it…my sign was complete. Then all I did was hammer in a large nail just below the mule deer antlers in the center of our coop…hung the “head board”and then connected each of the name boards in the order in which we added the hens to our flock. Again, I really like how it turned out and think it helped complete things. What do you think?
What have you done to personalize your chickens and/or coop? I’d love to hear and then share it with all the other chicken-loving ground redeemers.
Lastly (shameless plug here)…if you’re like me and you want to let the rest of the world know that you raise chickens, check out our brand-spankin’ new tees over at The RYG Store. Okay…I’m done.
Take care all,
- My Top 5 Chicken Coop Designs
- Our Chicken Coop Design (Part 1 of 2…err 3)
- Our Chicken Coop Design – Front Elevation (Part 2 of 3)
- Our Chicken Coop Design (Part 3 of 3)
- The Real Truth about Backyard Chickens