I don't know what came over me. I think it was the longing for my birds to be able to enjoy the outdoors. But it would be difficult to provide proper facilities for tropical birds in this climate. So when the opportunity came up to get some real outdoor birds, I guess I just went for it!
We always talked about having chickens if we ever moved to a farm, which was our plan before we moved here. This property has four acres, but no outbuildings, so not a real farm at all.
But I've been hearing more and more about urban chicken keeping in recent years, and one of our neighbors even had some chickens. So it doesn't surprise me that I would be tempted to give it a try myself.
Man oh man! I had no idea how much I would love having chickens, and how fascinating I would find them!
Our very first egg
I didn't even care about getting eggs from them at first. My idea was just to have pretty pets that lived in the back yard.
But I quickly came to appreciate fresh home-grown eggs. (The first day!) I also discovered that you can get special colored eggs if you buy the right breeds of chickens. I tell you, that was all it took! I am now on a quest to add special chickens and special egg colors to my flock.
Thankfully, my first four chickens are beautiful and have special personalities, so I don't care what color eggs they lay (pale brown).
My fifth chicken lays a blue egg with a slight tint of green to it, and my sixth hen, when she gets old enough to lay, will have dark brown eggs with speckles.
I also have some chicks lined up to raise this spring. Those will give me some more egg color options, but they will also be especially pretty to look at.
Raising chicks is a lot of fun, and apparently the downfall of most of us chicken keepers. I have already raised a batch of Lavender Ameraucana chicks over the winter. It was a lot of fun watching them grow up. I can't wait until my spring chicks get here!
Well, enough talking. On to the pictures of my chickens:
Buff Orpington and Black Australorp
Betty, Wilma, Daphne and Jenny
5 two week old Lavender Ameraucana chicks
The Lavender Ameraucana chicks are half grown up.
Livestock guardian cat
I built them a coop and decorated it for Christmas.
Coop at sunset
Wendolene, the Welsummer chicken
Wilma photo bombed my chick picture!
I thought I had all cockerels, but three of them turned out to be pullets! Yay!
March 20, 2015
Well, it is finally spring, and I have my new group of baby chickens! They are living in a brooder that I keep in my mudroom. The garage was too cold when I got them for the heat lamp to warm it up enough, but soon they will be able to graduate to a larger brooder out there.
We have Blue Splash Marans, Rhode Island Red, Blue Laced Red Wyandotte, an Olive Egger and...
an Appenzeller Spitzhauben!
Well, one type of poultry soon leads to another, and after a hawk killed one of our Lavender Ameraucana chicks, we decided to put a turkey in with our group of hens, both as a lookout, and as a deterrent against future hawk attacks. Being the genetics geek that I am, I looked up what colors of turkeys there are, and we ended up with not one, but three different turkeys!
Cranberry is a mixed breed. We think regular bronze with an added red factor.
Cranberry at 5 1/2 months old
Muffin is a purebred Narragansett. (They were both supposed to be, but Cranberry didn't turn out like this.)
At 5 months old, we still can't tell for sure whether they are males or females. We are leaning towards female, because neither one shows any obvious Tom Turkey characteristics. (The chicken in the photo is Peppermint, one of my Blue Splash Marans.)
Our third turkey is a Sweetgrass, which also goes by the names of "yellow shouldered Ronquieres" and "tricolor". Poppyseed is only 3 months old, and too young to mingle with the older turkeys. They have been introduced, but only under close supervision, because the older turkeys pick on him. But turkeys grow very quickly, so soon he will be big enough to hold his own, and they can work out their pecking order.
Poppyseed has shown male characteristics a couple of times, although it is actually too early to tell for sure. If we are really lucky, we will end up with one male and two females. Two males would be a problem, and one of them would probably have to go. Either that or the female would have to go, and then the males would have nothing to fight over.
When he (or she) was a baby, Cranberry was raised in the house around people, and as a result, has a much more human-oriented personality. A lot like a puppy dog. And whatever you are doing outside, he has to have his beak shoved in it. Here is a photo of Cranberry as a baby: