Thursday, May 3, 2007

Chickens in the backyard, chicks in the garage. . .

It started innocently enough. I've always wanted a few hens, just for the eggs, you understand. And after years of telling DH how much he'd like them, too, he finally agreed.

Of course, the annual homeschool picnic at the Salatins' Polyface farm that always starts with a farm tour might have had something to do with his capitulation. He loves all things "sustainable ag," don't you know.

So we ordered 25 brown egg layers from McMurray Hatchery and I couldn't resist adding 6 straight-run Aruacana chicks to the mix. That makes 31, plus McMurray will send a "rare breed" chick with any minimum order of 25, so we were expecting 32 little chicks on April 16. Instead we received 44!

The fine print says they may need to add a few chicks to any orders that don't divide by 25 evenly. The shipping box sizes make it necessary to have certain numbers in order to keep the little guys warm on their cross-country trek. So we keep combing the catalog trying to figure out what kind of chickens we have. Guess we'll know more when they all have their regular feathers.

That covers the chicks in the garage -- soon to go out to the portable coop DH has been working on in odd moments for the last week or two. The backyard girls came from a family that had hatched them from eggs last spring but didn't want to keep them any longer. They offered and I jumped at the chance to have eggs before August!

So Madame President and her committee arrived a week or so ahead of the chicks we'd ordered. DH put together a small hen house in the backyard and the girls came home to roost. (sorry, couldn't resist!) Madame President is, I think, a silver-laced wayndotte (or is she a cuckoo maran? her eggs are very dark brown...) Miss Dolly is a barred Rock, the three brown hens are Aruacanas. They have the poofy cheek feathers (do I know how to describe poultry or what?) and lay lovely light green eggs. Jabberjaw, the white hen, is an unknown, tho she lays brown eggs so maybe she's a type of Rock, too?

Whatever kind they are, they're doing their job of laying eggs -- every day we get either 5 or 6 eggs and they're so entertaining! DH even says he likes that they "talk" to him while he's working in the yard.

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