I did not grow up on a farm and have no family with farms or even backyard chickens, yet it has always been in my heart and soul to have a farm.
I have always wanted a farm sense I was a little girl. I met my DH in 2006 and we have always rented our homes and never had a yard big enough for even weeds to grow.But I always told DH that I would have chickens as soon as we owned our own home. In March of 2011 we bought out first home in Mill Creek on 7 acres, then got married in Hawaii July of 2011.
Finaly in January of 2012 I had decided it was time. Time to fill my time with clucking chickens and my fridge with healthy eggs. Scanning Craigslist on a daily basis paid off, I found a woman in Arlington that had 5 hens she wanted to rehome for free. We decided that I could pick them up the next day. DH was out in his shop, and I ran out to inform him that I needed to have everything ready for the new girls that night. There was already an area that was almost ready for them in an out building. All I had to do was put up some chicken wire to keep them in their side and build some nesting boxes. Because my DH is so great we got all of it done that night. Getting sleep that night was impossible as I was so very excited. Morning finaly came and off I was after getting our kids off to school.
I did not even think to ask the age of these hens before I went all the way up there, but found out that they were 5 yrs old. Well I was already there, I was told they were still laying an egg every few days and they were free, so I brought them home. Two Barred Rocks, two EE's and a molting Road Island Red.
*Please excuse the quality of the picture, they would not stay still and I took it with my phone.*
One thing that DH and I agreed on, is that any animal that is here must serve a purpose. Not only were the chickens for eggs and bug controle but we would also be prossesing some to feed our family. I know many back yard chicken keepers do not agree with this as they see their chickens as pets but this is what we have chosen to do.
The very first egg we got was a giant blue egg from one of the EE's. I was thrilled, never had I seen an egg any other color than white or brown.
Although we were warned not to name our chickens if we had plans to eat any of them (and DH did not think I would really go though with it being the obsessed animal lover I am) I aloud our 5 kids to each name one of the chickens. Our DD's picked the Barred Rocks and named one Lovey and the other Pecky Peckerton (both from Mr. Popper's Penguins) Our three DS's picked the rest, RIR became Elmo, one EE was Black Beard while the other became Golden eye. It was explained to them several times what was to become of some of the chickens and they were fine with it. More so than I thought they would be, some of them even jumped in to say they wanted to have the feet from their chicken when it was to come time. The first one to stop laying was Golden eye, so she was the first to be invited to the dinner table. I watched some really helpful videos on Youtube to learn how to prosess my hen. Gathering the kids around the computer I told them what they were about to see and that I wanted them to watch it so they knew if they would be able to hand seeing it in real life. They all did great, asked many questions and were turly interested in the whole thing. When we did the dead the hen went very fast (I will not go into detail for those with a different mind set) and we all learned a lot from her. The kids all helped remove the feathers, and we all examind the organs and named all the ones we could. We thanked her for the eggs she provided us and the meal she was about to become. It was a great expireance for all of us.
While the kids were at school, I spent my time eather sitting out watching the chickens run around or on the computer searching for more to add to my flock of five. At this time I had not yet descovered the Heaven on earth that is BYC, which now I spend at least 1/4 of my day on. Sucsess, I found yet another batch of hens for free, then another and then another. Now so many hens later and a memorie worse than 10 second Tom (from 50 Firts Dates) I can no longer recall in what order or which breeds came next. But I can tell you that chicken math hit me with such unexpected force that I am currently now up to 23 hens, one rooster, two cockerels (that I know of) and 7 pullets, 15 chicks and 14 eggs total devided between two broody hens.
I have come to have a very wide variety of different chicken breeds, mostly large fowl but some bantam breeds. Which leads me to My Chickens!
As I said before, I have the chicken math sickness that has lead to owning several chickens. They all have different personalities, but there are some that just stand out from the others.
I am happy to introduce HONEY. Still not quite sure what breed she is, but I have found at least three that she looks just like. (Any thoughts on her breed are welcomed)
I am not sure if she has a dogs sence of smell or if she has a sensor that tells her when someone is walking around with food, but she sure as heck knows when to show up to beg for it. If you walk around any where on our property with food, you better hold onto it tight and watch where you step because as sure as it is going to rain in Washington, Honey will be under foot waiting for the right moment to rip your food right out of your hand. I have had many guests family, friends and neighbors come over for a chat and eather had their food taken and ran off with or being interigated by Honey who really wants to know what is in the plastic bag you have dangling. And as we chat, you hear the bag rustling several times from Honey trying to find a way in for a peek see. This girl lays a medium sized "pink"/light brown egg every day! She is such a delight that I have been told by my brother in law that no matter Honey is to stay! I guess when she stops laying and he wants me to keep her, I will just charge him for her feed.
Emma is one of three hens and one roo that I also aquired for free. That storey is interesting in itself. Again I found an add on CL for free chickens, I got ahold of the nice lady and we began trying to set up a day and time for me to pick them up. Just my luck our scheduals were not matching up. But we finaly landed on a day, I called her just before I left my house that day and she told me then that she would not be home when I was to pick up the group and neather would anyone elts. I really thought about not going as I really do not trust people these days and was worried that something was not right. She said I could just go into the back yard and catch them and take them home. I decided to go anyway. On the way there it acurred to me that I was going to pick up not only hens but I rooster I knew nothing about. The thought of getting beat up by a protective rooster was now running threw my head over and over. When I finaly arived I wrote up a letter to tape to the door, with my contact info on it stating that I had come and taken the chickens, just incase it was not the real owner I talked to that way they could reach me for the return of the chickens. I went into the yard armed with scratch treats and my boxes. Thankfuly they were very easy to catch and the roo was everything but agressive. Two of the hens I just cornered and grabbed, the roo ran into the coop and I reached in and got him and the third hen was the easiest. The woman had told me that one of the hens was alway in the coop, but again I was not apart of the information network of BYC so I was unaware (as was the woman) that this hen although only 8 months old, was broody. I brought them home and added them to the flock I had collected.
Fast forwarding a bit, I finaly became a member of what is now my home internet page BYC! After a few failed atempts at hatching fallowed by lots of BYC reading, I decided I wanted a broody hen. The day after 5 more free hens were delivered to me, one of which I was told was ALWAYS broody, Emma jumped up to fill the first role of broody hen. At that time I had some eggs in my incubator from my hens (barn mix chicks to be) yet wanted more and was not about to denie her the need to be a Mommy. I set her up with only 6 egg as it was her first time. She proved to be great, she hatched all 4 that were fertil and has been an amazing Mom. Two of her chicks were given to a new home, she still has the other two that are now 10 weeks old and she is still raiseing them. I read that they leave the chicks around 5 week old or so, but every time the chicks tried to go off on their own Emma would freek out untill she found the,. Just with in the last week or two, the chicks have been able to run around with out her chasing after them but they still hang out with her most of the day. Not only is she a great mom, but she was a great broody hen too. She aloud me to reach under her to candle the eggs with out her snapping my fingers off and when they hatched she had no problem sharing her babies with me durring a time that I really needed happy things to fill my days.
Emma and her sisters are beautiful Black Cochin Mixes of some sort. They all have beards and muffs. They are not bantam size but they are by no means LF eather. I have sense sold one of the three to an awasome woman that was looking for a Cochin mix. So I now have Emma and her sister Kristine. Kristine has now gone broody and is my 5th broody hen from when Emma started the trend.
I love the bit of brown that she had one her head next to her comb!
Apparently she was not done having her picture taken, she popped in for one last pose when I was trying to get a pic of another hen! Silly Emma your broody fame has gone to your head.
This next one has been a mystery for so many reasons.
I had someone interested in a little buck that I had and found out that the guy how wanted him was selling a bunch of pullets that he had. They were all about 9 weeks old. His price was between $5 and $7, so I was only expecting about 9 pullets. After we met and swaped I came home with 2 boxes of little peeping pullets. To my suprize when I opened the boxes there was a total of 18. The man had promised no roosters so I was a bit sad when I saw this little thing with a big come and big waddle that were quite red. I instantly assumed it was a boy and named "him" Tiny Tim as he is the smallest chicken out of all of them and the smallest I had ever seen up close.
The next mystery was what breed could "he" be? So recently I hopped on the great BYC and went to my very informitive friends on the Where am I? Where are you? Washington thread. Not only did I find out that "he" is probably a Serama chicken, but is also most likely a little hen!!!! Now Tiny Tim is Tiny Tina. I am thrilled and am now glad that I had decided to keep her when I thought she was a he, but just to cute to rehome.
So here SHE is....
The white feathering around her neck is new as of this week. She is so darn cute.
This seems to be one of those "Mom, they are making fun of me for being small." moments!
About 75% of the chickens I have were given to me for free. Eather because people just had to many hens and needed to quickly find a home for some, I find many free on my local craigslist, roosters because some one thought it was a hen and it began to crow, but Bothell Feed Center also has my number that way if any costomers ask of a place for their chickens or roosters they can call me!
Charley is a rooster that some one did not want any more. So they put him in a dark green tote with a wire mesh lid and a note taped to it that stated; My name is Charley, please help me find a new home. Sadly these people decided to leave him in this tote and drop him in the parking lot of the Bothell Feed Center. I got a call from the feed store asking if I could take this poor boy for them. They had no idea how long he had been out there sitting in the sun. But they had pulled him out to give him some food and water and found that he was very sweet, he did not freek out when they tried to pick him up. Nore did he struggle to get free when they were holding him. So I rushed over to pick him up. I figured if anything I would just find him a home, because I already have one of the roosters that I wanted and he is not the breed that I am looking.
For the most part I always quarenteen new additions to my flock and had his temp area ready before I left to get him. Apon ariving home I put him in his little area, where he could see the flock but not have contact with them. Charley decided that was not enough as soon as he saw all the girls. Running, jumping and trying to squeeze his head through any opening is what he did for the rest of the day. I was worried he was going to hurt himself, but figured he would calm down at some point. When I went out the next morning to check on everyone, there he was running around with the flock! I still to this day can not figure out how he managed to get out as I have used this same pen several times and this has never happend. I made the decision to just let him stay out. I sat out and watched him for a few hours and found him to be very sweet, yet head strong and brave or dumb how ever you wanna look at it.
Charley is a bantam breed of some sort, hi is not tiny, but not as big as my LF hens, so to see this little guy run out of the coop and the first thing he picks a fight with is a big turkey tom with a bad attitude! Charley stood his ground and the turkey backed off, ha ha. Instead of running out and fighting with my 16week old cockerel or any of the hens he just went along with everyone as if he had been here for years.
This boy is a very interesting charactor, not only did he pick the fight with the turkey tom, but he also has tried to steel the tom's girl! Charley tried mating with my turkey hen, picture that. I recently introduced a new pair of turkeys to my flock and they are twice the size of my first pair. When I was out watching and taking pics of everyone that day, my first tom tried mating with the new huge turkey hen. Well Office Charley was not having any of it. When Charley cought sight of what was going on he ran full feather legged speed twards the "couple" and jumped up at the tom knocking him off of the hen. The tom and Charley made eye contact for a split second and then a hen walked by and Charley was on a new path after her. I kind of just sat there in aww of what had just happend.
Well now I can not very well have a rooster that will keep my turkeys from mating and he was only coming here to find a new home anyway, so Charley is Free to a new home, hopefuly to people that will be as amused by his antics as I have been.
This is right when the turkey had got his ballance on the hen and Charley showed up. It all happend so fast that I was not able to get the pic of Charley jumping up and knocking him off, darn it.
But here is after the fact, as the boys both watch the hen walk away!
Then Sunny walks by and Charley is off to get HIS grove on!
Sense I am on the subject of roosters, I will share two more with you. Their stories are not as long and interesting as Charley's but they are still worth mentioning.
After doing some reading I decided that I wanted to breed a few pure breeds to sell and to keep for my self. I like the thought of being able to know what sex chicks are when they hatch and I just so happen to have a white leghorn hen. So I got ahold of some chicks again for free, hoping that at least one of the RIRs was a boy. Well I got what I wanted. I now have a 16 wk old RIR rooster that will make beautiful chicks, not only with my White leghorn, but also with my other RIRs and possibly will throw some color into chicks from my EE girls. This rooster came with another RIR and three Barred Rocks, (two of which have gone to new homes). Him and the two pullets tend to stick together all the time. They do mingle with the rest of the flock, but they have their own clan and they are very cute. Now this cockerel is yet to be named because I am waiting to see is adult personality. I feel that roosters should have big strong manly names as they are the protectors of the flock, they forage for their ladies, alert when there is trouble and they "get around"! A rooster with all these qualleties just sounds like a man's man to me, and desurves a name that states that. My last main rooster was named Jax, now the name it's self is not nessisarely masculan, but he was named after the main charater from Sons Of Anarchey, one of our favorite shows.
Here is my yet to be named cockerel....
This next boy was brought to me the other day by a family that thought they had bough a pullet. I had met the woman when I was at the Bothell Feed Center a few weeks ago. She was at the counter trying to get information from one of the gals on how to tell if it was a pullet or a cockerel. I did try helping her as well, I have heard that with EEs the pullets do not get red coloring on their shoulders and that is what she was describing. I tried to inform her of BYC and how easy it was to get answers to questions like this, but she was in a hurry and I am not sure she took the advice to heart. I gave her my number just in case it was infact a cockerel, which he indeed is. And a pertty one at that. Sadly her daughter had picked him out and both of her children had become very attached to him. It was hard for them to let him go, but once they came and saw where he would be living they were happy to let him stay. He is about 14 wks old and has already been crowing as well as attemping to "get" his girls at his previouse home. I can't wait for him to settle in, he will be set up with my 3 EE hens in their own area so I can make sure he get them and I may hatch some chicks from them.
Here are two of the girls he will be paird with...
I am hoping to get some really unique and colorful chicks from this group.
And now for just an over all over load of chicken pictures....
" I'm sorry, but what the heck are you looking at."
These are some very cute mystery bantams from the feed store.
Sitting and watching the sunset!
Well that is my story so far. I have so many more chickens and like I said they all have their own personalities, but some just stick out from the rest. As far as the numbers I have this is how it breaks down...
* Hens- 25
* Roosters- 2
* Cockerels- 1
* 16wk pullets- 2
* 14 wk pullets- 6
* 10 wk chicks- 10
* 3 wk chicks- 7
* 14 eggs under broodys
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed! If you wanna see more you can check out my facebook page for my farm @ http://www.facebook.com/CollierClocksFarm?ref=tn_tnmn Please like us on Facebook!
*This is a work in progress, and will be continued and added to untill I am done! Hope you enjoy so far.*