Hey all! I figured I might as well sling some pictures of my birds at everyone. I've got a good bunch in the way of stories to share, so I hope people enjoy 'em. I'm quite proud of my feather-bums, so I'll do some little bios here and there! How we got chickens was a bit of a crazy situation (and a long story, so bear with me!), but I'm so glad it panned out as it has. When my husband (then fiance) and I started looking for a home to purchase two years ago, we ended up looking at a medium-sized house on 2 acres nestled along a decently-sized creek with one neighboring house and cows on the other side. It was pretty much perfect, except that the house was a wreck. The house was going into short-sale, and it was an eight month battle with the bank until we were finally able to sign the mortgage and buy the property in June of 2012. The guy that lived there with his mother was a (for lack of a better word) slob. There were holes in the walls, floors, and ceilings, the carpets were saturated with all manner of animal waste (so bad we had to actually tear up subfloor in the hallway and the entire second floor), and all sorts of other stuff. We ended up having to gut the house and fit in all new wiring, plumbing, and retro-fit a central air system, on top of cosmetic stuff like fixing and fitting in walls, fresh paint, new carpet, etc. Suffice to say, by the time we finished the repairs and upgrades necessary to actually move in, it was August of this year (2013). And my husband and I managed to do it with him working a full time job and me in school full time. His parents and a few good friends of ours were an enormous help. ANYWAY. The previous owner of this house was an "animal guy" of sorts, but not the doting, adoring farmer or pet-owner type.... It's like he just wanted animals to HAVE them and as far as I know, he didn't take a lick of care of any of them. When we first looked at the house he was still actually "living" in it and he had goats, pigs, chickens, dogs, and turtles. The pigs were in a really terribly-built hut thing and their pen was literally right on top of the well system for the house (which was a WHOLE huge can of worms and now we have the filtering and sterilizing equipment for a 12 person household installed in our basement). The goats were either roaming free (and IN the house) or chained to a tree (one of the black walnuts will forever bear the torso-sized bark-free scar of a goat constantly rubbing his horns on it in boredom). The turtles were slapped in a scummy kiddy pool on the patio and the dogs were allowed to run around unchecked, pooping and peeing on everything in sight, inside the house and out. And that brings us to the chickens. There were six white leghorns, three roosters and three hens, that simply roamed the yard. They had no coop, and slept on the patio, and they weren't fed regularly, if at all, and were a bane to all the neighbors (and their birdfeeders) when we stepped in to try and purchase the property. When we got to fixing up the house we found out that the birds had been nesting inside the roof, getting in via unkempt soffits and poorly maintained vinyl siding. We found hundreds of eggs inside the roof and down inside walls and BOY I can tell you that it is extremely alarming having an egg literally explode in your face. The smell alone is overwhelming, but it's just about as loud as a shotgun going off. Nasty. Our realtor was a God-send during the painful buying process, and let the neighborhood know that there were new kids on the block who were going to do their best to set things straight. When the previous owner finally moved out, he had managed to rehome the pigs, goats, dogs, and turtles. He left the chickens, however. Or, more accurately, he left SOME of the chickens. He took two hens, and left us to deal with three huge roosters and one little hen. We named the roosters Dovah, Kiin, and Muldoon, and the hen was dubbed Lydia. We rushed to throw together a ramshackle coop out of left-over wood and chicken wire we found around the yard and that got us through winter, spring, and summer. After we bought the house, we started throwing together a permanent coop, which you can find out more about here and I am happy to say that our coop is nearing the final stages of completion! It's just shy of 400 square feet in footprint, and is home to 21 birds! My husband and I are very proud of the how it's turning out and within the next week or so it should be completely done (shy of finding a good, strong, translucent roofing material to put over the run, but that will have to wait until spring). We've got twenty chickens right now and one young blue slate turkey tom named Baldr. All in all we have two white leghorns, six ameraucan/EEs, three buff orpingtons, three brown leghorns, two copper marans, and four mixbreeds. So let's start this up with my boys! Dovah the white leghorn and one of the original yard chickens, Ember the EE/ameraucana, Sudoku the EE/ameraucana who is Ember's son, Butter the mixbreed white leghorn/EE boy, and Danger Baby (who will be getting a new home soon!). First up, Dovah! He's handsome as can be, even with his blind right eye. He's a great guardian of the flock, and is a fair leader with a LOT of patience, particularly toward the lower ranking roosters. He keeps them in their place firmly, but doesn't harm them (as long as they're smart enough to back down). He won't take no guff. He's old, and I'm almost positive his attempts to make chicks are for naught (except for Butter, and he turned out a little...weird), but he's second to none as far as roosters go. Next up is Ember, a roo we bought at auction with his two siblings, Flynt and Steel. All three were mislabeled as pullets, much to our chagrine. Flynt succumbed to a mystery illness last summer, while Steel grew up to be far too aggressive for a flock containing multiple roosters. He didn't get along with Dovah, so we found him a new home on a farm where he has his own girls to protect and no other boys to compete with. Ember is a great second-in-command for the flock and will split off without fail to keep an eye on any wayward girls while Dovah takes care of the main group. His crow is a much more pleasant than Dovah's ear-splitting screech. Third, we have Sudoku! He earned his name shortly after he was hatched. When placed in the brooder on some newspaper he decided to poop and then plop down on a sudoku puzzle. It looked like he was trying to solve it and some webcam viewers found it hilarious. The name Sudoku stuck. He was hatched from a group of eggs we gathered from our original girls and is the son of Ember. He's extremely handsome (even moreso than his pop, but he doesn't have the awesome beard that Ember does). He can be a bit of a jerk sometimes, but his mannerisms are a spitting image of his sire and even his voice sounds similar. Butter was from the same clutch as Sudoku! His mother is our ameraucana, Rosa, and we're almost positive that his father is the esteemed Dovah. How else could you explain that impressively large comb and wondrous white plumage? He's a strange fellow, for sure, and a chicken that will always have a fond place in the flock with us. He has a bit a handicap, with a huge hump on the left side that's resulted in a limp and his tail shooting off crooked. He's very calm and chatty, and will hang around people without fail (though don't try to touch him!). Despite his issues, he can keep up with the other boys very well, and is as attentive to the flock as his father, despite the lower place in the pecking order. It amuses me that he's practically blind in the same eye as Dovah, because of his floppy comb. Last we have the youngest rooster and the result of a mid-summer broody hen, Danger Baby! He's a very gorgeous buff orpington/EE cross and was one of five roosters hatched by our hen, Mama (out of five eggs! sheesh, what bad luck!). The others have been rehomed, but we hung on to Danger Baby because of the promise he showed for friendliness when he was very little. Up until a few weeks ago he would actively seek me out when I was in the yard, and even chose to jump onto my outstretched arm or shoulder to perch at times. He's maturing now, though, and the older boys are viewing him as a threat. Because they're picking on him, the hens are being aggressive toward him, as well. The result is that he's getting very skittish, and I just don't have the time to devote to calming him down again, so we're actively working to find him a new home. I've got a place lined up for Sunday, a gentleman nearby who has a degree from Penn State in Agriculture (focused on poultry), who is offering him a good forever home (with no chance of ending up in the stewpot). Here's hoping! And that's it for now... I'll have more little chicken bios soon! And a ton more pictures! Toodles!