I am starting a chicken blog!  That is where my current flock pictures are now.  Things there changed after the Boxing Day Massacre, so only six of the chickens shown below still live; Jack, Romeo, Mathilda, Lucy and two Ranger hens, Frances and Flappy.

 

In which I introduced my chicken flock.  (David calls it the United Nations of chicken flocks)

Currently (August 26, 2010) I have 6 large hens, 1 bantam rooster, 2 bantam hens, 20 meat-breed chickens (Freedom Rangers) and 3 Orpington chicks I hatched myself.

The ladies first, of course.

Charlotte, the Welsummer hen, is the queen of the roost.  She is the oldest of the group I originally brought in and is laying.  Her eggs are typically a terra cotta brown with darker spots on them.  I wanted a Wellie for the unusual eggs.    Charlotte is very vocal, always talking to me when I’m in the vicinity.  She also has crowed a couple times, which was a very compelling reason for me to get a rooster – I didn’t want her taking that role!  Getting a rooster evidently stops it and I’ve not heard it but the once.  Although the wee rooster isn’t yet crowing, he’s still MALE.   (side note – I googled “crowing hen” and discovered an old saying: A whistling girl and a crowing hen are neither fit for God nor men.  It made me laugh.)

Another of the next three hens has begun laying, though I’m not sure which one.  The eggs are smaller than Charlotte’s and light brown.

Second in the pecking order is Mathilda, a Black Australorp.  The bottoms of her feet are pink.

Drusilla is the middle of the pecking order and thus a little mean to any other chickens that enter their realm.  When I released the Ranger chicks in, she ran at them, pecking their wee heads.  She wants to assure herself that she won’t fall lower in the order.  She is a Silver-Laced Wyandotte.

Evie is a Gold-Laced Wyandotte.  She can be a little mean towards the Ranger chicks, but not as bad as Dru.

Pearl is an Ameraucana in a dilute Wheaten color.  Her eggs will be blue or green (possibly pinkish, but so far all I’ve had from this hatchery have been blue or green).  Being at the bottom of the pecking order makes her a bit skittish around me.  So far it seems that all my Ameraucanas have been at the bottom of the pecking order and they’ve all been skittish – I just realized the connection.  Me, I’m the very top of the pecking order.

Emily is a Cuckoo Maran hen and while she hasn’t yet laid an egg for me, I expect one any day.  Her eggs will be a dark chocolate brown. Here is a good comparison picture!  It shows regular brown eggs, Maran eggs and white eggs.  So far Emily isn’t really within the pecking order.  She comes and goes as she pleases as she is a full-grown hen and the silly wee pullets don’t quite know how to bully her.  She seems to get along with most everyone, which is nice.

This is Lucy, one of the Dutch Bantams.  She and her sister, Ethel, both lay tiny white eggs.  The fun thing about bantam eggs is making deviled eggs from them.  Tiny bite-sized devil eggs.  Part of me wants a Serama, which is tinier still and thus lays tinier eggs.

Ethel is currently in isolation with a respiratory problem.  She’s very wheezy and I hope she will recover.  She and Lucy range around on the outside of the pecking order.  No one seems to pick on them and they run in to grab the good food without being picked on.  They are very tiny chickens!

This is Oliver, the bantam Polish cockerel (until they are 1 year old, they are considered cockerels and pullets.  Then they grow to be roosters and hens, but I tend to use rooster and hen when talking about them because that’s what most people know).   He’s taking a sun bath here.  He’s a handsome little guy but so far the ladies don’t want to have much to do with him.  When I first put him in the yard with the others, he immediately found some food and started fussing about it, trying to call ladies over.  They ignored him.  Dru seems to chase him a lot.  Currently he sleeps in the barn with the Rangers instead of in the chicken coop with the ladies.

Rangers sunning in the coop.

The little tri-color Ranger roo, showing off his coloring.  I love their pudgy legs and how they stomp about on them.  It’s very different from layer hens and their graceful pacing.

Today I released the Orpington chicks into the chicken yard.  I stood over them for awhile to let the middle of the pecking order know they should leave them alone.  I’d go back and check from time to time and when I did all was going well.  I did put them back in their brooder box for the night, but soon they will be sleeping with the other chickens.  I ended up with two males (in back) and one female.   The splash guy (the whitish one) is starting to get a few dark feathers.  He has pale blue eyes.  The blue female seems black until the light hits her just so, then I can see the blue in her feathers.  I can’t wait for them to grow up and show their colors.   These littles have no names yet.  Sometimes it takes awhile to name the chickens.  Drusilla and Evie were with me for 6 weeks before I named them (just today!)

Updates as they happen…

September 22 update:  Ethel got better.  Better enough to go broody and have a nest in the woods.  I finally found it when Sadie flushed her out of the weeds.  That was evidently enough to break the broodiness as she never wanted to sit on the eggs.  She had eight in the nest and I moved them and her into a cage.  She just wanted out and is now running around with Lucy again.

I lost the little Blue Orpington chick to a Cooper’s Hawk I had seen in the area.  She was the smallest chicken and they are small hawks so I don’t think I will lose others.  The little splash may turn out to be a hen after all.  It’s hard to tell at this age.  I’m hoping I still have a male and a female so I can have some more Blue Orpingtons!

One of the Rangers got Botulism – I don’t know where it is in my yard, but I’ve lost 4 of 5 hens to it in the past.  This time I read in my chicken health book that if you flush the afflicted chicken’s crop with Epsom salt water, it will get the poison out of their system.  So, I water-boarded my chicken.  That’s what it felt like.  He was not a happy creature, but the poison did not get further into his system and kill him (it paralyzes the heart at the end).  He still has a weak leg and gimps about in a strange hop, but he lived and is growing, so I feel very good about that.

On Sept 18, I went to a chicken sale and came home with these chickens (as of 9/22, only 2 are named):

the first one I bought was this Barred Rock pullet.  They have striped feathers, which I wanted to have.

Next I purchased these Cochin bantams girls.  The dark one is a blue (the color Orpingtons I want) and the light is a splash.  They look like little puff balls.  The blue is Amelia, because she is a brave exploratory girl.  She went into the barn by herself and put up with a lot of pecking from the Rangers, who are all more than twice her size.  I finally talked her into going into the small coop with the other hens, and that’s where she sleeps now.  Sadly, the little white Puff was eaten by something that got into the coop one night.

Next I decided I wanted a silkie.  Avery (my hand-raised pet black silkie) is happy where she is.  Since she wasn’t raised with chickens, she can’t be out with chickens or they beat her up.  So she is staying where she is, but she made me want to have another silkie.  So I bought this one (sex undetermined until it either crows or lays an egg!)  Also unnamed at the moment.

Finally, I got a Buff Orpington.  I chose her without input of other chicken folks and they were concerned because she has “old legs”.  To me, she looked like my old Buffs and I wanted her.  She’s probably two, which is no big deal to me since the chickens are as much pet as food source.  She’ll still lay, just not as many as younger Buffs (which isn’t a bad thing.  I determined I rather like a slower laying batch, as then I won’t be overrun with eggs!)  Her name is Camille.  Sometimes when I hold a chicken a name comes to me (happened with Avery) and so it happened with her…

Interestingly, she started hanging out with the Orpington chicks, who tend to stay off by themselves.  Then I remembered how clique-ish chickens are.  But I was still surprised because they are different colors.  When I had primarily Buffs, the other chickens were always the outsiders and we commented on the clique then.  This time, the Barred Rock ran over to the Maran when I let her loose, because they look rather similar and it brought it all home.  Then a friend commented on her mixed batch of chicks congregating along breed lines and it became something that really interests me about chickens.  And, as Suzanne said, “how do they know since they can’t see themselves?”

Here are the Orpington chicks, growing up.  Still no names with them since I am completely unsure of their genders.

They are growing into lovely little chickens.  They come running to me at night to be picked up, as they sleep in the barn but can’t get into their pen themselves because of the big Rangers.  So I carry them in.  There’s an opening that they can fit through but the big chickens can’t, so they are safe for the night and can get out themselves in the morning.  But for now, I’m putting chickens to bed every night…

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