Once you have chickens (or at least once I do), it becomes tempting to want more exotic varieties. Four years ago I started out with six Ameraucanas, the friendly, puffy cheeked hens that lay pale green or olive eggs.
Now I have a wide variety, and often know which hen laid which egg by its size and color. Still, I wanted a couple of Cukoo Marans (rich, dark brown eggs) and Cream Legbars (turquioise eggs). When my Silkie (a small white puffball with feathered feet) got broody (sitting on eggs to hatch them), I arranged with a small breeder in Redding to ship a few baby chicks. Continue reading “New kids on the block”
Do you remember the seven eggs that the silkie hen hatched? Five of those chicks turned out to be roosters! Beautiful as they were, they had to go. In their place, I got three 3-week old hens from Craigs’ list. Their breed is Cuckoo Maran, a medium size chicken that lays deep brown eggs. They are in the chick pen now. At least the owner says they’re hens…
And the silkie is broody again. This time, I’ve ordered female day-old chicks for her to raise–I’m not taking any chances. Continue reading “Babies”
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”