For years my flock has consisted largely of Americana chickens, docile birds who are good layers of green or olive eggs. But this year, diversity has been the theme. I just can’t seem to resist new breeds.
In addition to the original Americanas, of which two remain, I have a Black Australorp and Rhode Island Red (brown eggs), a couple of Silkies, little white puffballs with feathered feet who are great mothers and lay small white eggs, and my favorite from the original flock, Houdini, a Hamburg hen who escapes the chicken area every day to lay her white egg in the bushes.
When I ordered chicks, I decided to go for exotics, so I have two Cream Legbars (turquoise eggs), three Coco Marans (mahagony colored eggs), a Black Orpington, an Olive Egger, and a Rhodebar. Some of these look pretty strange. Here’s a Coco Maran and a Black Orpington with her feathered feet:
And here’s a Cream Legbar: Continue reading “The Angelina Jolie of Chickens” →
Many modern hens are too refined to set on a nest of eggs and hatch chicks. The instinct to get “broody” is bred out of them, because they stop laying. Commercial farmers would rather mange egg production and incubation. Continue reading “Meanwhile, back on the farm” →
This week, I decided that the two young Polish roosters had to go. I really can’t have three roosters. Cloud, my Americana rooster is a gentleman and protects his hens. I didn’t feel good about sending him to the stewpot, so the young ones had to go. I waited till evening, then boxed them up to take to my friend who eats them. (I would have no problem killing and eating my chickens except that plucking a chicken is hard, smelly work. My friend’s husband, apparently doesn’t mind.)
But as I put them in the box, I couldn’t help but notice their gorgeous, glossy feathers and entrancing topknots. Especially Dorie One, as my grandson named the now certainly rooster, whose head was laced with gold and red feathers. Continue reading “A bad farmer” →
For those of you who follow the chicken saga, I wrote about my attempts to incubate or have my broody hen hatch some chicks. I have to report failure on both counts. Nothing in my homemade incubator hatched. I wasn’t so surprised at this, as I had some initial problems regulating the temperature. But for whatever reason, the eggs under the broody hen also failed to hatch. After 23 days, I took them out. Three had complete chicken embryos inside, but not alive. I don’t’ have any idea why, as she was a very diligent setter. I slipped seven day-old chicks from the feed store under her the night I took away the eggs, a mix of Rhode Island Red and Americana chicks.
Two of the Americanas are black, as is the mother. For whatever reason, she rejected the two black chicks. She refused to let them be, but pecked at and chased them around the cage. A self-loathing racist hen? In any case, I had to take the black chicks out and foster them inside. Continue reading “The failed hatch” →