'Cleveland Chickens (Texas)'
Well, I moved us out of the city (Dallas) 1 year ago (Spring 2011) and into the outskirts. My city friends would call this "country" (we are surrounded by crops and until a month ago when we finally got DSL, we had to use satellite internet), but to my country living relatives my acre and a quarter is too close to a Bath & Body Works to qualify as "country". So, I'll settle for "outskirts".
I grew up in Oklahoma where I spent most of my childhood at my Grandparents' farm with chickens, goats, sheep, horses, and a huge garden. So, this Spring I planted a medium-sized garden and decided I wanted to get chickens. When I win the lottery, I'll buy up the land behind my house and get the horse, but for now I'll start with the chicks.
I thought that getting them as day-old chicks at the farm supply store for my daughter's Easter basket would be fun, and then we could raise them for their eggs.
I researched online the best breeds for eggs, what sort of investment would be needed, and off we went to Gebo's. I let my daughter pick them out and she picked 4 baby Rhode Island Reds. I loved the ducks, but was glad she didn't ask for one- I hadn't researched that yet. I created a space for the chicks and my daughter and her friends would play with them and sing/rock them to sleep. They were adorable!
As they started getting bigger- and they get bigger WAY faster than you think- I upgraded to a bigger cage and started noticing the comb on one of the chicks seemed to be developing very quickly. Then another started to develop the same way. Frantically, I did more research. Turns out, even though Tractor Supply had their chicks labeled as "sexed" or "straight run"...Gebo's didn't. I just assumed they were all girls. Now, it was looking like I had 2 girls, 2 boys. What was I going to do with 1 rooster, let alone 2?!
One roo was developing fast- we called him Rooster Cogburn. The other seemed rooster-y one day, but hen-like on others. We called him Mabel Peabody (after the name of a gay bar in Denton). I knew it wouldn't work out with 2 roos, but I thought I would have time to figure things out- like maybe until they were about 5 months old or so. The girls we named Berniece and Camilla (after Gonzo's favorite chickens on The Muppet Show).
At about 5 weeks old, I started letting the chicks run around my fenced-in backyard. They LOVED it. I would still lock them back up at night in their make-shift coop, but during the day they darted here and there and took naps under my rose bushes.
Then one day I noticed Cogburn & Mabel fighting ...a lot. I would pop out and try to "break it up" by distracting them, but they would peck each other on the head quite a bit. I read about it and everything seemed to indicate that they would work it out, so I didn't worry. besides, they all 4 still snuggled up together at night, so I figured it couldn't be too bad.
One morning I went to open the coop to let them out- and there smack in the middle of the coop were both Cogburn and Mabel. Dead. It was almost as if they had been standing facing each other and then both fell backwards. Berniece and Camilla were awake and happily eating already.
I work from home, so in between conference calls, I somberly buried my man-chicks back by the woods. I don't know if they injured each other. I can't see how any predator could have gotten in. They were too far away from the sides for anything to have reached in. I didn't see any signs of injury on them. I have to say, I am a little suspicious of Berniece and Camilla. Maybe they were just tired of all that fighting crap and put an end to it. Secretly, I now call them Thelma and Louise.
So, now it is just the 2 girls, and I just got our new coop delivered today. I do hope to add more to the flock soon, but I have had enough chicken drama for this month. They run around the yard still all day and seem to be very happy.
I'll add more as this adventure continues.