When I was two my parents moved us from the city to a farm house on about 10 acres. We were about as far in the middle of nowhere as you can get. Our driveway was 1 mile long through open range (meaning it ran through a pasture with no fence around the road, so sometimes you had to get out of the car and chase a few cows out of the road). Our closest neighbors were 3 miles away.
The first thing we realized was different about the country: grasshoppers. Millions and millions of grasshoppers. I am NOT exaggerating. There were MILLIONS, maybe even gazillions!! And grasshoppers are not easy to kill. Smash 'em, and they still walk off. Pull off their heads, they'll still walk around. And they'll eat a tomato plant in no time flat. So, obviously, our first attempt at gardening was a total failure. The solution: Chickens.
Well, we made a common first-timer mistake. We ordered 25 straight run Heritage Breed Package. We ended up with about half of them being roosters. So, my great grandma (Grammie) came out and taught us how to process a chicken, and we ate a lot of tasty chicken the next 6 months.
I don't remember much about the next seven years though. I remember most of our original flock was eaten by predators (until we got our AMAZING pit bull/lab, Boom-Boom, predators were a huge problem). But we always had some chickens in the yard. We had ducks too, but most went missing or were butchered because they were agressive.
When I was about 7, I joined 4-H. My project was Poultry. I was going to show a pen of three Barred Rock hens, but I needed to really take more responsibility for the chickens. So, I started feeding them. Now, anyone who raises chickens knows, they LOVE to eat. And they do recognize the bucket that food comes from. And they will pursue that bucket (even if it's being carried by a little 7 year old girl) until they get it. Well, one hen names Quaily Bird (my mom's favorite) was particularly....ambitious.....in her quest for that bucket. And, to say the least, she scared the bejeezus out of me. I was TERRIFIED of that bird. Now, of course I know she was just friendly, but back then I was pretty sure she was going to attack me if I ever turned my back on her. And I kinda just generalized that fear to the idea that every chicken was out to get me.
I did show my Barred Rocks that year (Reserve Champion: ) and showed a few bantams the next year, and did quite well. My mom really wanted me to continue showing Poultry through 4-H, so I was allowed to pick around 5 breeds (usually I got 10 chickens) to be my show prospects for that year. (BTW, I had nothing against baby chicks, I LOVED them! I was also quite comfortable around bantams).
When I was nine she allowed me to order two Porcelain d'Uccles: a breed I had been admiring for a long time. Those d'Uccles were Stan and Sophie. Neither of them were very friendly, and had some foot problems, so I didn't show them that year. There was something special about Sophie though, I could just tell. That winter, when she was nearing one year old, I decided I would try and tame her. I started by letting her eat treats out of my hand, then just holding her. Pretty soon she was riding on my shoulder!
That was when it started. I decided I loved chickens. I realized how much personality they had, I wanted, no I NEEDED, more! I took over the chicken raising. That winter I spent most of my spare time huddled over a Murray McMurray catolouge, trying to decide what breeds I wanted come Spring, or cuddling with Sophie.
To sum it up: My flock grew, and my flock grew FAST. We went from around 30 birds to 60 in a year. And Sophie was ALWAYS my favorite.
Then when I was 10 we had to move. We were only going 17 miles, but I could only take 33 chickens, that was simply all we had room for in the trailer. I had to pick and choose, our friends were moving in in two days, but I wasn't sure if the ones I left would last that long without dogs to protect them. (Thankfully, most of them did make it.) So, at our new house, it was time to start rebuilding my flock. The next spring we didn't order chicks, we just didn't have time. A year later we did order 25 though. My flock has just been growing and growing ever since. With 10 roosters and so many hens it's bound to! We currently have around 85 chickens, and I am hoping to order more purebreds next Spring (). I also want to start breeding Quail d'Anvers soon.
So, here I'll post pictures, updates, and stories about my flock.
My favorite breeds to date are d'Uccles and Naked Necks. I have 5 Porclain d'Uccles (2 roos, and three hens, including Sophie) and 4 pure NNs (4 hens, but I also have 4 chicks who's dads were normal roosters).
My d'Uccles are:
Sophie-almost 4 years-Hatched in Spring
Jerkface-about 2 years-Hatched In April
Temple-almost 1 year-Hatched February 24th last year
Stoner Eyes-Same age as Temple but very stunted in size
Oscar-Same age as Stoner and Temple
The girls are all very friendly, Oscar is shy, quiet, and laid back, and Jerkface is a jerk.
Here's some pics of my d'Uccles
Size Comparison of Stoner and Temple with Temple on top. This was taken this July
Me with Sophie. Photo taken this summer
Sophie this fall
Sophie this fall *again*
Stoner Eyes. Her best friend is this Faverolle, and they both have apple in their muffs and on their faces. Taken this fall.
Stoner and Frankie.
Temple this fall.
Stoner this summer
Temple this summer
Sophie a few years ago
Sophie at a concert April 2011
Stoner Eyes with her toes painted pink. (She has blueberries on her wing, not nail poilish btw)
Naked Necks are the runner up as my favorite breed of all time. I don't have any pics of the new babies (they're a week old).
I have four hens and four un-sexed chicks:
They all hatched around Feb. 24th
Gollum s sorta buff, with some black streaks. She is very calm and laid back, and loves attention. She also has a facination with rings.
Wilhelmine is all black. She is like Gollum as far as temperment.
Maude is red, and is very slender compared to the others. She does NOT like being handled, but is the best layer of the four.
ZaSu is black with some golden lacing in her bowtie. She is like Maude as far as temperment. She LOVES carrots, but if she eats too many her neck turns a funky shade of yellow.
Here's some pics
Gollum (She wasn't looking very good, I need to get some more recent pics............)
More of my flock:
Ders: Ders is an evil little Quail d'Anver, but we all love him <3
Lullabelle #1 (Barred Rocks)
Lullabelle #2 (my favorite. You can see my Phoenix in the background)
.....and then they grow up......this boy was so adorable a few months ago...
Frankie--She's sweet and caring. She LOVES her little d'Uccle friends. (Salmon Faverolle)
June--June is convinced the camera will taste delicious. She just hasn't figured out how she'll eat it all yet. (Speckled Sussex)
Uhora--Uhora likes to roam. She'll disappear for hours, but always comes back at night. She LOVES Jerkface. (Buff Brahma Bantam)
Lily and her chicks--Lily LOVES being a mom. This is her second brood of the year pictured. Her older kids were jealous. (Millie Fleur Booted Bantam
Nora (she's due to hatch ONE egg sometime next week)--Nora likes to be broody, but has a hard time deciding what nest she likes best. (White Cochin Bantam)
My drakes, a Chocolate Runner and Black Swedish. Pokey and Ping, I love them most of the time.
Annabelle Lee--Annabelle is confused most of the time. Probably because whenever she sees something exciting she runs for it full blast and ends up crashing. (EE)
Buddah (Mottled Cochin Bantam)
From left: Uhora, Nora, Sophie
My Columbian Wyandotte hatched chicks
My Jersey Giant hatched chicks
Little Red (Red Cochin Bantam)
Bess--Bess is a ninja chicken. She likes to sneak up and peck people in the knees. Then run off doing her trademark evil chicken laugh. (Buff Orpington)
My Phoenix. Best. Roo. Ever. RIP
Pocket--Pocket was Mr. Bagawkbagawk's best friend. As you can see he got a little beat up. But Mr. B tried to keep him safe most of the time (Birchen Cochin Bantam)
Eliza--Eliza has creepy eyes. I'm pretty sure they can see into your soul. But that's about all they can see, since she's almost totally blind. (Light Brahma Bantam)
My JG and her chicks
Alvena--Alvena is also a ninja chicken. She likes to sneak out of the coop at night and scare me when I go to lock the door. (White Faced Black Spanish)
I have more, but they're not all so camera friendly.
A List of Breeds I Currently Own:
White Faced Black Spanish
Rhode Island Reds
And a whole bunch of mutts!
UPDATE!! Unfortunately Gollum has passed away. She was attacked by an owl at 1:30 AM, October 31, 2012. I heard some brief commotion, but didn't go out to see what the problem was. In the morning I found feathers spread in the yard, and a few looked like they had been painfully ripped out. My mom told me she had seen Gollum in the yard when they went to bed (we rarely lock the door, because the dogs are always out to keep predators at bay, and I never worry about forgetting to let them out in the morning. A few like to go out and eat bugs under the pole light.) And that she had also seen an owl stalking them from the woods. RIP Gollum, you will be greatly missed.