Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Chicken Story

(Subtitle: Wait, What Just Happened?)

So.  We now are the home to 39 various breeds of poultry.  I'm not exactly sure how it happened but last week we added 31 birds to our flock.

I suppose the story begins in that our hens have almost ceased laying.  We only get one, maybe two eggs a day now and that just isn't cutting it around here.  I had been on the lookout for a few months for pullets or adult hens in the area to buy.  (Pullets are basically pre-pubescent chickens, if you will.  Not yet laying but older than chicks.)  A few came up but they were either 1. super far away requiring time and gas money to get there or 2. fetching a premium (there is no way I'm paying $20 each for a hen that is already over a year old).  We decided that we might as well get the 25 chick order from the online hatchery (25 is the minimum order) and at least start some of our own hens.  We didn't lose any more time waiting for the 'right' ones that might not come.  When they get a bit older, we decided, we can choose which ones we will keep and sell the rest as pullets and make our money back.  

But THEN after I bit the bullet and hit the confirm payment button and said order of 25 chicks (+1 bonus "exotic" chick...I picture it chirping with an accent and wearing a revealing bikini) was on its way, one of the people from Craigslist called me back.  She said her other buyers had fallen through and she had five pullets available. And they were right in our town.  So Brian came home from work with five teen chickens who we've introduced to the flock.  The next day our 25 chicks (we had one DOA) arrived at the post office.  I love that the post office calls you to tell you your chicks are in and you get to pick them up there.  It's so...quaint or something.

The pullets are sweet enough.  They're Rhode Island Reds.  Not my first choice but definitely a good standard laying bird.  They need to learn our property and they're a bit too curious about my mulch and flowers (and my new hydrangeas...grr.) but they're slowly catching on.  We're trying to get the older hens used to their new coop mates.  The natives weren't thrilled with the idea and have been trying to show the newbies who's boss.  I'm hoping their little competition ends soon and they get their pecking order established without too much bullying.  You're not supposed to interfere too much (unless it's violent) but I'm still a softie for the under chicken and our older girls definitely have some attitude.

The chicks are adorable.  I ordered the "rainbow layers" assortment where you get a discounted random mix of all different breeds based on availability and what's left over at the hatchery on the day of hatching.  They're all sorts of colors and arrived with a lot of energy and extremely healthy (except for that dead one...).   Another one did die the other night and we aren't sure why.  So now the count is:

4 adult hens (2 Aracaunas and 2 Rhode Island Reds)
5 Rhode Island Red pullets
6 heritage turkeys (4 Naragansett, and 2 Royal Palm)
24 Unidentified female chicks

Oy.  

The family activity now is to figure out what mystery breeds we have and do a mini poultry study with the boys.   (We'll call it our unit study on Ornithological Heritage and Identification with hands on experience in Poultry Conservation, Care, and Management.  Bam.  Bonus homeschool points.)  I believe we have nine different breeds among the chicks!  Some of them are really beautiful.  I'll update with our guesses once we get some closer looks at their plumage and compare them to the website.  It's extremely challenging since many of the breeds look so alike when chicks but then vary widely as adults.  I think we're going to have some crazy exotic chickens here on the homestead.  But no bikinis.  We teach modesty around here, folks.

For now, just some pics of our rapidly growing flock...

Adorable fuzziness

I have no idea how they survive the trip with no water but they were healthy and super energetic!

Introducing them to their temporary home

They really are fun to watch. I'm trying to make a point to go out more and handle them a bit to get them friendly and used to us.

We got the chicks from this hatchery.  It's reputable and has great reviews.  Probably not the best one out there but I wanted to just get them ordered and not get too bogged down in researching the perfect that I put off ordering even longer.  (Not that I ever overdo it in searching for the perfect... ;)  

 The new girls in school.  Still a little awkward.  Trying to join the cool kids.

We're hoping these girls will begin laying in two months or so.  And they need names!  Our last flock was named after first century female martyrs (cuz we're cool like that, yo.  Or possibly cruel like that, yo).   Do we continue on the same route?  Do we venture off into literary characters?  Not having been able to pick out female names for our own little human flock, this is quite the important issue.

If you happen to be in the area, come on over and meet our newest additions!

  

Click the picture above to see how others are cultivating their own little (and big) homesteads!



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8 comments:

  1. First, your posts crack me up. Second, that's a lot of chickens! I'm looking forward to reading about the upcoming adventures...because you know there will be some. :)

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  2. This is so exciting! I laughed super hard at the "exotic chic", btw. Awesome.

    And in your pile, I do believe I see some Barred Rock beauties (my fave!) and some Easter Eggers, so right there you've got a fab flock. I agree that the RRs (we have two) are kinda lame in the looks and personality dept., but they are great layers so....you know...

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    1. Oh, I would love some Barred Rocks! I hope you're right. It's REALLY hard to take the pics of the chicks from the site and match them up for many of them but we'll make our best guesses :) It's weird, our RIRs stopped laying at less than 2 years old. I don't know why...

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  3. oh and how much fun when you start getting different color eggs and try to match them to the hen that is responsible! fun, fun, fun - maybe start a guessing game to see if the boys can guess the colors to come

    have a good time - especially looking for those egg recipes you will need in a few months

    blessings
    Karen

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    1. I forgot to add the best part of the story is that my husband doesn't even like eggs!!

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  4. Yep, they are adorable! I did have one thought though... the 26th exotic chick is probably an exotic-rooster-to-be since that is what they usually have the most left over of at the hatchery... time will tell, but just don't be mad at the poor fellow if you don't get any eggs out of him ;)

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    1. ah, that would make sense... He probably won't make it long around here then because I don't want to bother the neighbors with crowing. But does that mean a speedo instead of a bikini? (ew.)

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  5. If we were close by I would be coming by for sure! I looove little chicks and I know the girls would love it... This post definetly made me laugh :)

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