Don't let the time frame and the setbacks get you too discouraged. There is no way to plan for every problem that might happen. If people don't have setbacks, then I have to wonder if they are really serious about breeding because you don't notice problems as much if you aren't paying attention. I've had my share and I know a few others that have had theirs, but you just have to keep going till you see that tiny pin prick of light at the end of the tunnel.
I think there is a lot more setbacks in this work than people want to admit or talk about. I have a theory that we just don't hear about the problems because for one, discussing the reality of poultry raising does not sell poultry products and it would turn off potential buyers if magazines and online sources told the truth about things. Two, people don't like to hear about the hard parts of things, they want the warm fuzzy stuff not the dirty stuff. And three, it can be discouraging and embarrassing to talk about your problems because it can make you feel like a failure.
I wish there was more formal support out there educating people so they weren't feeling like they were floundering. Not everyone knows how to research what they want/need to know, and not everyone can go to poultry shows and be friends with successful breeders to learn from the very start. I like the work that the Livestock Conservancy is doing to promote old breeds, but they make it all seem like it's a bed of roses, instead of showing what it's really like. That's why I keep running across people that claim to want to breed heritage birds, yet they are opposed to culling and not only will they not kill and eat their own birds, but they won't allow people to buy their birds with the intent to eat them. Being a chicken farmer is a glamorous fad these days but nobody is telling these people the truth about how hard it can be.
Thanks- it's good to hear the failures as well as the successes. I try to keep in the back of my mind, the 1 in 100 "rule" of the good bird- that way I feel a bit better when I look at mine, and realize that the 99 of the 100 will be chicken dinner. And really, I don't blame the people who have been breeding for a long time, when they don't want to sell their stock to newbies- it's very true that when you you're new and starting out, and you get all your information from the popular magazines and sources, it does sound pretty easy, and pretty glamorous. In fact I read an article on Black Javas in some magazine- and of course I had to have a lovely flock like that free ranging on our farm. I figured it would be easy to find some and go from there- ha! I could not have been more wrong. First, there seemed to be none (at least that I could find) in Canada, and then when I located some at Urch's I thought, well I'm all set- and then was shocked that they didn't ship to Canada. Neither did Sand Hill Preservation.. or anyone else. The magazine made it sound like a fairy tale, as you say, all rosy. I didn't realize that it would take time to build relationships and tons of research, and set backs. But I've come a long way since then. It's a typical case of the longer you're in it, the less and less you realize you know. I miss those early days when I knew just about everything there was to know about chickens! Haa haaa haaaa haaa!!!!!!!
Black Javas are lovely, but I've found a lot of the Javas out there are no where near Standard. You might have dodged a bullet by not finding any breeders that would ship to Canada.
Serious Java breeders are few and far between. Javas in general need a lot of work. Some folks are making progress. Others (me included) are having a lot of learning experiences along the way. Two steps forward, one step back. Some years it's one step forward and two steps back.
I'm in my fourth year with Black Javas and keep re-evaluating how much effort I want to put into the process of improving the birds. So far the answer has been yeah, keep going. I love the breed. I love growing the chicks out. I love the eggs and meat, and being able to feed friends and family. I love watching the birds run around the yard. I don't like killing chickens but I do it because it's necessary. And I've gotten a lot faster at killing and butchering so it's not as traumatic as it was at first. I have sold a few birds along the way to people who wanted them for eggs and meat, not for showing. I would rather eat the birds than sell them.
This year I cut back on the number of chicks I hatched because I don't have the space to grow out any more. That will slow down my progress toward improving the birds, but I get to have more fun with the flock. And that is the whole point of raising chickens.