Sunday, March 27, 2011

Meet My Chickens!

First of all, I apologize for the photos.  Photography is not my strong point, and subjects that won't pose or stay still make it even harder!  These photos were taken when my babies were two days old.

First up, we have a pair of Ameraucanas.  These are the breed that lay blue eggs.  I've always known that when I got my own flock, I would have this breed.  These two are the biggest (and bossiest) of the bunch so far.

They won't retain those beautiful markings into adulthood.  The photo below is a mature Ameraucana pullet (girl chicken).  Her legs are blue!

Next up, we have a pair of Cuckoo Marans.  The one on the left is a "feather-legged" variety and you can see she is already starting to grow feathers down towards her feet. 

This is a mature Cuckoo Maran pullet.  While not very remarkable in appearance, they lay the darkest brown eggs.  Can't wait to see them!

This little guy is the runt, and we have taken to calling it "the baby."  It is a bantam, which means small.  The particular breed is a "frizzle" which means it's feathers won't lay down.  This chicken is "un-sexed" which means there is no way to figure out whether or not it's a boy or a girl until it grows up.  If it is a boy, unless he is really really quiet, and really, really nice, we are eating him.  Circle of life, people.  Deal with it.
 Here is a picture of a grown up frizzle pullet.  If it were a rooster, it would have a larger comb on its head.

 This chicken is "Aidan's chicken."  It is a "Polish" chicken, sometimes also called a "top hat" because it grows a big crest of feathers on it's head.  Aidan was attacked by a rooster when he was small, and developed an irrational fear of chickens.  As he got older, that fear morphed more into loathing, and he always said if I got chickens he would have NOTHING to do with them.  So, being crafty, I let him pick out "his very own" chicken.  Old age and treachery trumps youth and beauty every time.

However.  This chicken is also "unsexed" and I don't want to think about it's future if it winds up being a rooster.  Aidan is already talking about moving "his chicken" into his room.

I really do hope that if it is a rooster, he is very quiet, and very nice.  They definitely grow up to be one interesting-looking chicken!

This cute little one is a Silver Kraienkoppe.  Like the Ameraucanas, she won't retain her beautiful markings but does grow up to be quite a regal-looking chicken.

And finally, this one is "Bridget's chicken."  She picked a Silver Laced Wyandotte and she will grow up to be one beautiful bird!

None of our flock have names yet, we are waiting to see their personalities emerge.  They are 3 days old now and already starting to grow mature feathers, so soon they will be in that awkward teenage phase where we wish they were still cute and small.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Chicken Chronicles

So, two days ago, I got the much-anticipated call from the post office.  "Ma'am, we have a box of live poultry here for you."  Woot woot!  My chickens have arrived!

I have wanted chickens for a long time.  Several of my neighbors have them and while the eggs are delicious, it is also the personalities of the birds that I enjoy.  Each one is unique and they definitely have a social structure and I think it will be a lot of fun to have our own small flock.

So, like usual, I started my research.  Talked to all the chicken owners, read things on the internet from online poultry dealers to chicken bloggers.

We eat about a dozen eggs a week in my house.  So, theoretically, we only need a few birds.  I ordered eight.  Yes, that is way too many but I doubt they will all make it to laying age (4-5 months).  Due to my inexperience, disease, or varmints, I may lost up to half.  I've had them 3 days now and I can't bear to think of losing ANY of them!

The birds in the lower right are mine.  The rest are Black Indian Runner ducks that "my farmer" ordered to help me fill up the box.  They stand a better chance of arriving alive if there are more in the box.

So, I got them home and put them one by one into the cardboard box that will be their home for a few weeks.  I had to dip each of their beaks in water to "teach" them how to drink.  Each and every one of then figured it out and then headed straight for the food.

I definitely learned that I needed a bigger feed dish!

They are just the cutest little balls of fluff.  But only for a few more days.  Then they will go through that awkward teenage phase where we all try to remember how cute they used to be.

Check back soon!  In a few days, I will intruduce you to each and every one of them!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

March Madness

Well, I exagerate.  It's not nearly as busy as last March.  But after nearly 14 years of this motherhood gig, I am finally noticing a pattern.

March is where it all starts.  March is when I awaken in the middle of the night suddenly remembering 4 events I forgot to load on the calendar, two birthday gifts I forgot to pick up, one outfit that needed ironing for some ceremony or performance, and all of the chores outside that I've neglected all winter.

March is where it all starts.  The crocus bulbs remind me spring is coming, and the daffodil bulbs follow closely behind them.  Its the iris that I wait for though, with their showy blossoms in unimaginable color combinations.  The black, skeletal trees suddenly burst with a sweet green-ness that will darken throughout the summer.  I need to start walking again, so that I can observe and enjoy this magical transformation.

March is where it all starts.  When I have to prepare the garden beds, get my seeds in the ground, shop for seedlings, and hope that this year will be better.  Empty canning jars are piling up in my pantry, waiting to be filled again with this year's produce.

March is where it all starts.  I am starting a small flock of chickens this spring and hope to have my own fresh eggs by mid-summer.  My baby chicks arrive in just over a week and I love the feeling of anticipation.

March is also the "beginning of the end."  Swim season wraps up with championship meets, and we start planning for the end of the school year.  That means TAKS testing, final exams, middle school graduation, choir parties, 8th grade dance, three girl scout overnights, the father/daughter prom, middle school swim team, club swim team banquet, a triathlon, a couple of birthdays, and all the planning, cooking, purchasing, taxiing, packing and volunteer work that accompany all those activities.

I've learned something over the years.....  yes, it's crazy, but it's a good kind of crazy.  And we will all survive even if I forget to iron that shirt, don't have time to spray the weeds, or have to postpone a birthday celebration.

I've learned to take a moment.  Enjoy my growing children and revel in the activities they attempt, rather than resent the demands these create.  Celebrate both my husband's birthday and another year of being married to him.  Take time for a walk in the woods near my house and see the astonishing array of flora quietly announcing spring.  Put my hands in the earth and feel it turning.  Shed the shell of my winter cocoon and dive into the fresh spring air.

Hello, March!