Chick Days Are Here Again

 

DSC_4911Is there anything sweeter than chick days?  They are little and adorable.  There is bird song in our home all hours of the day.  Gentle, joyous chirping from the closed guest room door.  Their personalities begin to emerge.  Namaste is sweet and content to stay in my hand.  Yoga likes to sit and watch me do yoga.  Buttercup is dead set on escape.  And Bobbi and Chi Chi (Maryjane named them) are frantic.  The unnamed Marans and the owl-like Araucana just follow the crowd.

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The grass is growing higher in their chicken yard and a huge pile of old compost waits for their sing song clucking and digging.  I can see them in my mind, rolling, gossiping, kicking up dirt in their luxurious dust baths.  The sounds of an urban farm are soothing against the traffic.  And inside the warm guest room with its red light glow holds little souls new here and joy in every new feather.

 

For the Love of Chickens (a look at different breeds)

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“How did you decide on these chicken breeds?” someone asked me.

I can’t say I did a lot of research.  When we went to the feed store to get chickens the first year, we hadn’t reserved any so we got who hadn’t been picked up.  One of the breeds I hadn’t heard of.  Golden Buffs.

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Mahalia has never laid an egg.  But her sisters, Peep and Daffodil, are great layers.  They reliably lay a large brown egg a day.  They are slowing down in their third year of laying, but they are still good layers.  They have great temperaments.  Peep runs up to strangers and wants to be pet.  The other two are less lovey but are not aggressive  in the least.

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Our California girl, Ethel, was another breed that we got that year.  She is a great layer (again slowing down now) but she laid a white egg that was perfect for boiling and Easter eggs every day for a long time.  She is sweet.  She also likes to fly.  Not away, but into the goat yard.  The grass is always greener on the other side for California Whites.  She doesn’t leave our actual yard though.  A clip of a few feathers could keep a California girl in her own yard if needed.

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Our Jersey Giants are still great layers even though they are older.  Nearly every day we can count on a small, beige egg.  They are very sweet and docile.  They are not near as giant as I had imagined.

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The next year we researched breeds that were docile, affectionate, and good layers.  The Buff Orpington came up in many suggestions.  Though I have heard that many are affectionate, mine peck at my ankles and fight with each other.  They are good layers but they are not the fun loving birds I thought they would be.

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At a farm we were touring there were these black and white birds that laid dark chocolate eggs.  I was smitten.  They had a nice rooster that was with them who was also a Marans.  We got three girls, Liesel, Brigitta, and Louisa.  Louisa soon became Henry Higgins.  And indeed, he is a very nice, docile, yet bossy and protective, rooster.  I just love him.  I love to hear him singing in the morning.  I love how he herds the girls to safety if he thinks anything is amiss.  He is a gentle giant.  He is very passive with us.  The eggs the girls lay range from medium to dark brown, some variegated with lovely stripes.  Brigitta wants to be picked up and has had many a photo shoot with our granddaughter.  They are one of my favorite breeds.

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I have always loved the blue and green eggs that Araucanas produce so we got three Aracauna girls, two beautiful gold and black girls and one white who still lays blue eggs every day.  They like to fly as well and for awhile laid all their eggs in the front yard.  They are passive, sweet chickens as well.

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A friend of ours had Brahmas.  They were black and white lace patterned with petticoats and floofy slippers.  I loved them as well.  They are dual purpose, meat and egg layers, so they will not be prize winning egg layers, but they will add to the pretty factor on this farm.  We are fickle farmers.  I pick animals based on their cuteness.  Not scientific, but fun.  Two of them will be joining our farm next month.

Backyard chickens are a joy to have and easy to take care of.  An essential component of any mini or large farm.

The Most Sincere Chicken Egg

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We live in a little house on a busy street.  We have two lots so it lives big, but we have neighbors, traffic, and street lights.  There are no chickens allowed in the front yard.  They have a large area in the back yard where they have taken over the swing, the lawn chairs, the outdoor dining area, and the fire pit.  They have a large, comfy coop, dogs to play with, laundry to pull off the line, and the back porch to play on and under.  It’s freakin’ Disneyland for chickens back there.  They seem happy enough and we don’t see them attempting to get out all that often.

Wading through the pumpkin patch yesterday to find the perfect pumpkin to roast, I gingerly sifted through the large spiky leaves, and tall grass.  As I lifted a limb of the choke cherry near a large pumpkin leaf, there lay eighteen beautiful eggs.  I stood there a bit dumbfounded.  ‘Could it be a duck?’ I thought.  Far fetched I am sure.  Farm fetched more like it.  Could it be Leo’s chickens across the street?  Robin eggs?  As my mind raced wildly for an explanation I came to the more realistic conclusion that one of the chickens has been out hoeing around the front yard.  I know who it is.  Sophia.  She is as naughty as she is lovely.  I have seen her running around the side yard a few times but thought I had just caught her.  Apparently she loves pumpkin patches as much as I do!

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Doug said, “That’s not the Great Pumpkin!  That’s the Great Chicken Egg!”

(Perhaps a little early for Halloween references, but we feel that It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! is a year round classic that should be quoted at will.  I do hope you will indulge your inner child and watch it!)

Chick Magnet

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The girls are looking fine.  We have only lost one of the infants (thus far and hopefully total!) and the girls are already showing vast personalities and trying to fly out of their plastic storage container.  They ended up back in Emily’s room because of the cold snap that we did not expect.  Two below zero is a smidge cold for little chickies.  Emily is not pleased but is being a good sport.  She is the only one with a cat proof room!  They were banished last night from her bedside, however, for being stinky, loud, and jumping out of the box.  When one of them escaped and pooped on her makeup box, that was the end of that.  They are now in the bathtub (in her bathroom).  New moms are no fun.

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The Polish girls, Aretha Franklin and Ginger Rogers are looking more and more like Billy Idol.  We all went through some funky stages as teenagers though.

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My angelic little Buff Orpingtons.  They are the smallest of the bunch and look like a quintessential Easter chick.

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This is one of three Cuckoo Marans.  They look like they have bald spots on their heads.  Like little old men running around!  The two Buff girls and the three Marans are named Gretel, Marta, Louisa, Brigitta, and Liesel.  Pop quiz!  Where are those names taken from?

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This is Nala, our little leopard Araucana.  The Araucanas are so cool looking!  (Yes, I know.  Nala was a lion, not a leopard.)

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I just kept calling this gorgeous Araucana, Falcon.  She looks just like a miniature wild bird.  Her new name though is Sophia.

We have one more yellow Araucana with a brown halo.  Emily advised me not to name her Angel as that is too predictable.  (Guess what I was going to name her?) We’ll see what her name becomes.  I asked Doug what he thought would be a good name.  He said it didn’t matter because he will never be able to tell them apart.  “You can’t tell them apart?!”  Maybe I have too much time on my hands.

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I am incredibly nervous about integrating them with the big chickies.  I don’t want any massacres or injuries.  I know that you sneak them in with means of a dog kennel and the chickens think that they were always there.  But, I think Daffodil will remember.  How do you integrate new chicks to the flock?