I started keeping chickens in 2003 just for fun and found out they are REALLY fun! I ordered my original 25 pullets from Mt. Healthy. All turned out to be girls and all were very healthy. Since then I've had 4 more batches of chicks, 2 were hatches from my own flock, which has been really fun to see how the traits are passed on and just watching the chick develop in the shell and hatch was great. I'm working on developing a long-lived, intelligent, friendly flock that lays well without sacrificing good health. A nice variety of colors is always good too!
I've lost a few girls to various problems and have personal experience with crop infections, cancer, egg yolk peritonitis, egg bind, eye injury, bumblefoot, frostbite, accidental poisoning, cuts, bruises and sprains. Whew! For all the trouble and heartache, they are still worth it because they make me laugh every day.
Here is a roll call of my current flock:
Alva: Silver Laced Wyandotte, Hatched 4/28/03. Named after my great grandmother, she loves hugs.
Monk: Silver Laced Wyandotte, Hatched 4/5/04. Makes very loud noises when treats are around.
Hazel aka Witch Hazel: Production Red, Hatched 4/5/04. Quite uptight.
Dott: Barred Rock, Hatched 2/28/03. Always up for a good brawl. Mother of Nekoda.
Ella: Golden Comet, Hatched 4/28/03, died 9/9/10. My lovey dove sweetie pie and mother of Apollo, Cammi and Monty. I also included a pic of Ella as a baby because she's just so cute! The flock truly is not the same without her.
Nekoda: Black Sex Link, Hatched 4/23/05. Daughter of Jack and Dott. Smart AND pretty.
Last years babies:
Burton Guster a.k.a. Gus: EE x Jersey Black Giant pullet, Hatched 6/1/07. Daughter of Apollo and Rook (deceased). Smart and friendly little girl.
Shawn: EE x SLW (?), Hatched 6/2/07. Son of Apollo and Wyn (?). What a sweet little guy, I just love him!
Camembert a.k.a. Cammi a.k.a. Cammi-bear: Buff Orp x Golden Comet, Hatched 6/1/07. Daughter of Jack and Ella. Cammi has fallen in love with Leif and follows him everywhere, it's pretty cute.
Monterey Jack a.k.a. Monty: Buff Orp x Golden Comet, Hatched 6/1/07. Son of Jack and Ella. He's going to be a big boy!
Pumpkin: Buff Orp x EE/RIR, Hatched 6/2/07. Son of Jack and Circe. Very talkative
2008 chicks (from Privett hatchery) all hatched 4/16/08:
Miss Amelia Peabody: Partridge Cochin. Amelia is quiet and thoughful.
Juno: Partridge Cochin. Juno is petite for a cochin, but big on personality.
Ali: Dark Brahma. Ali has yet to lay an egg but is so darn pretty I don't even care!
Ruffles: Dark Brahma. Ruffles is so soft and fluffy, my favorite to snuggle with!
Sophie: Delaware. Sophie lays such pretty dark brown eggs!
Lulu: Delaware. Lulu and Sophie are the bosses of the baby flock, but are kind overlords and give me gorgeous dark brown eggs daily.
Dottie: Speckled Sussex. Dottie is so sweet and pretty!
Gracie: Blue Andalusian. Lovely girl, laid her first 17 eggs under the coop before I figured out what she was doing.
Ladybug: Blue Andalusian. She's quite a character and has been known to sleep 30 feet up in a pine tree and nest under the coop.
Matilda: Silver Lakenvelder. Such a sweet beautiful face! She's determined to nest over in the roosters yard and has fallen in love with Leif despite being 1/3 his size!
Roy: Silver Phoenix (yes, she's a girl!) Named after my friend Sarah's fictional son. She was straight run, so 50/50 chance of being a boy.
Tricki Woo: Silver Spangled Hamburg. Named after the famous Pekenese in James Harriot's books. She's a tiny determined little girl with gorgeous dark brown eyes.
Kirby: Silver Phoenix. Kirby was named after a little girl with beautiful long blond hair. He was straight run, so 50/50 chance of being a girl.
Paris: Silver Spangled Hamburg. Paris was sexed as a pullet, but turned out to be a stunning cockerel. He's named after the City of Paris.
Leif: Black Sex Link, Hatched 4/23/05. Son of Jack and Penelope. So Handsome! He Lost the teeth on his comb to frostbite after a fight with Pi.
Jack: Buff Orpington, Hatched 4/5/04. died 2/12/10 Big daddy of the flock, father to Leif, Nora, Nekoda, Pumpkin, Pi, Cammi and Monty.
Apollo: Easter Egger x Golden Comet, Hatched 4/22/05. Son of Val (deceased) and Ella. Father of Shawn and Gus. My sweet snuggly rooster who loves kisses. Really he does!
I have occasionally used jackets on the hens. The roosters will sometimes wear the feathers off the back of their favorite hen, the jackets protect their backs until the feathers grow back in the next molt. I use polar fleece because it is soft, flexible and does not need to be hemmed. It's important that the jacket be tight enough not to fall off but loose enough not to be uncomfortable or restrict. I've found that all you need for an effective jacket is for it to fit around the wings and over the tail, like this:
The big holes at the top go around the wings, the little one on the bottom goes around the tail. Here's how it looks on:
Other farm residents:
Safina is a stray who was dumped at our farm 8 years ago, spayed and declawed, she was living wild in the woods. It took me 3 weeks to get close to her, but she's a wonderfully nutty classic cat and I love her!
Safina with her summer haircut
Esmerelda "Izzy". She was found by a friend of ours on her back porch in 2 feet of snow in the freezing cold. She's recovered from frostbite on her feet and has been treated for various other health problems related to being a stray and is looking and feeling much better...
So much better in fact she's revealed her true nature as a vampire.
Not surprised are you?
In November 2007 we found a little bird in the front yard, it seems he broke his wing flying into the greenhouse window.
After a little research we found out that Spike is a Dark-eyed Junco which is one of the most common birds seen at birdfeeders in the U.S. I tried taping up his wing but he fought it so hard I had to take off the bandage and let it heal on it's own. Unfortunately his wing is still droopy so he may be a permanant resident. He has adapted really well to being indoors and seems happy in his cage even singing everyday. I will be getting him a companion if he can't be returned to the wild.
Spike update: I haven't gotten him a buddy yet, still researching how best to do that -I think it'll be side by side cages. But I did make him a much bigger 1'x4' cage. His wing is still droopy and his beak got mangled when he flew into the greenhouse window so he will not be returning to the wild. He's still singing daily and enjoying figuring out how to get to seeds I hide around his cage so I think he's relatively happy here. Just needs some companionship!
Then there's Ben...
Adorable 33'' tall registered mini gelding. Smart too! This little guy has sold me on mini's. I would love to train him to drive, I bet it wouldn't take long. He doesn't spook at anything, I tied him out when we built the new coop he was 5 feet away from air compressors, nail guns, saws alls, etc... he didn't bat an eyelash! I trained him to carry a backpack in 2 minutes with no bucking or fighting. He really is an amazing little guy.
It's hard to believe just how tiny he is, he's much smaller than the neighbor's black lab, he's so little I could just about pick him up!
Winter of 2009 Ben is joined by retired breeder Candy (far left) and Skylar. The miscreants have already escaped 3 times and taken a jog around the neihborhood. They look so innocent, lol!