We made the leap into the poultry world in November. I have become...a chicken farmer. The idea was to get 4-5 hens and maybe one rooster to learn about life, responsibility and for a little fun. It is not surprising that Sadie was the initiator of this adventure. As I type this we have about 40 chickens in our backyard. Yes, 40! I came home one Saturday afternoon in early January to the announcement by Jay and Sadie that we should expect 35 day-old chicks at the end of the month. I was not a part of this decision, though I am certainly responsible for making sure they receive proper care. I have learned not to be bitter about that fact.
Honestly, it has been a great "hobby." We have learned a tremendous amount about life - how it comes to be and how it can quickly and unexpectedly end, particularly with the loss of our sweet Iris. We have learned a lot about how hard and time consuming farm life must be as we have only experienced it on a tiny level. It takes about 2 hours to clean out and replenish the coops which we do weekly. We also feed and water daily along with throwing out scraps, chicken grit, and occasional corn. We have also learned about the intricacies of God's design in His creation. The process by which chicks are brought into this world is fascinating and it is amazing to me all of the pieces that come together to make it happen - daylight, temperature, timing. Although this might sound a bit hokey, it is actually entertaining to watch the chickens when we have them free-ranging in the yard. Some of them have distinct personalities like our group of Polish ladies who are always curious. Others, like our Silkies, who are sweet and docile, are not the smartest chickens on the block. It is pretty hilarious when one chicken finds a worm and all the rest go crazy trying to get it out of the mouth of the finder.
Our current breed selection include: Silkies (a chicken with black skin - google an image for a picture of the black skin. It looks a little creepy), White and Silver-crested Polish chickens, Wyandottes, and Crevecoeurs. We also have 4 Giants and 4 Red-Star Roosters. We also have a "mystery" chicken that was sent to us as a bonus. We think he is either a Americuana or a Buff-Laced Wyandotte.
We have names only for the Crevecoeurs (Bob and Brenda) because they were our first chickens and are endangered. We also have a name for our Polish Rooster, Fred. Fred has gone a little kooky since his original mate died and he had to be separated from Bob due to fighting. His group of ladies are not quite old enough to be in his same coop, but I hope once they are, he will calm down. Currently, he does a lot of prancing around and crowing and displays signs of haughtiness. He still allows Sadie to pick him up and carry him around like a baby on his back, so at least no pecking has begun.
Lily likes to create these funny names for the chickens. She has named one Mrs. High Places because she perched up on the highest corner of the coop. Other chicken names include Florida and Dudlette Do-Wrong, Cooper (short for Coppernicus), and Bob Junior.
Only Brenda, our lone Crevecoeur, is laying. The others should be ready in another month or so. She lays about 1 a day. We are letting her keep her eggs in hopes she will become broody and want to sit on them. Time will tell. Eventually, we should get about 20 or 30 eggs a day. Our plan is to sell what we can and donate the rest to the Open Door Shelter.
On these warm spring evenings after Jay has returned home, we will get a drink and sit in some lawn chairs down by the coop watching our flock free-range around the yard. There is a bizarre sense of peace down there amidst the clucking and cooing. I never thought I would find contentment in that.
Images (top to bottom): Silver-crested Polish hen, White-crested Polish hen, Crevecoeur rooster, Silkies, Silver-laced Wyandotte