What Breed Chicken Is Your Favorite?
Blogging to me is all about being humorous about things I face daily, and along the way share a bit of information I have learned. One of the big questions I get from people is, "What Breed Chicken is my favorite?". I usually blog about the general group of "ladies" but today I will share about a few individuals who just make having chickens, worth the busted knuckles, sore muscles, and tired days.
For instance; can you look at this face and tell me that you don't want to laugh your ass off? If you don't, then you are broken somehow. Your funny-bone has gone sour.
That face "Elizabeth" is making is purely diabolical! I laughed so hard at her, I cried.
She was so damn mad that day. It had rained almost non-stop for 3 long days. She'd been wet so many times her fluffy-pants were getting wet, as well as the other feathers on the outside. She was insisting that I MAKE IT STOP RAINING. I'm sure that's what that face says...
Funny thing about it is, they do have a shelter. She wants to walk out in the rain, get soaked, and then look at me like I did it! Whew! Some of them just have such high ideals about my ability to control the environment they live in. Yes, I am a chicken Goddess, but I can't always keep back the wet weather.
Elizabeth has always been a favorite of mine. She's an Ameraucana and her eggs are a lovely aqua color. Her temperament is really weird. She's a lovely huger (to me), and enjoys me picking her up and nuzzling her neck, but she'll kick any other hens fanny if they intrude in her airspace. She's a dominate hen. With her little body, (just under 4 pounds) it's a bit surprising to know she has the heart of a lioness.
Here she is with a dry face! She looks way happier, now doesn't she? She's just as happy as a pig in a mud-puddle!
Anyone who feels chickens have no moods or personality, just needs to compare these two photos. It will change that idea in a moment.
I secretly knew she'd eat me, if I died, out in the chicken pen...
(Thank you Natalie Dee.com for the borrowed image)
The other hen whom makes a world of difference in my day, is Victoria.
Victoria, is Elizabeth's sister. Here is her sweet little face. She is one of the most docile of birds. I love her dearly. Once a Dog got in the yard and attacked her. She was pretty badly injured but I had to try to save her. She was my buddy! We patched up her wounds and slowly she improved. Thankfully!
Victoria is also an Ameraucana. She's darker in color but still the same breed.
One quirk about her, is that she is the worst broody hen I have. It's so bad that most of the time she sits the nest and I have to force her off of it! It's useless... I finally decided she can just sit there. She's not a violent broody hen, just quietly sits there hoping she'll hatch out a baby or two. She won't. I don't have any roosters (That's another blog).
This is Victoria, after the dog tried to have her for dinner... Getting all fixed up. She was so calm for a wounded bird. I've done many, and this is the most passive I ever remember one being. She's just a darling...
I really can't even tell you how much I love this girl. Really this breed is sizing up to be my favorite breed of chicken. They have personality plus, and I'd have a whole flock of them.
Are they great layers? Well no... They are not dependable layers. It seems to be a personal thing though, and not really an indication of the breed as a whole. Elizabeth laid her eggs regularly about, 4-5 a week. While Victoria is a fussy-pants diva and lays when she damn well feels like it (rarely). When she does lay though, she has the most stunning egg color! They are a darker Aqua and always bring a smile to my face.
The breed is fun and a novelty. However, if you want Eggs on a regular basis, I'd shop elsewhere.
Speaking of Elsewhere. Soggy-Bottom is a breed chicken called Araucana. They are from South America and lay blue eggs. Not a dark blue but a pretty light blueish egg. All of the colored egg laying chickens, lay different hues of color; Some darker in color than others. Some of the greens are Greener than others. While some eggs, bluer than the rest. Also, it depends on the day, the weather, and what they have eaten that week. It all effects the egg color of a hens egg. She is an Egg-Laying Machine. You can depend on 6 eggs a week and seldom have a bad week in laying.
Soggy-Bottom-Girl, is in her molt season right now, and she's an old girl who isn't really laying. I figure she's over eight years old now. I'd easily buy more just like her.
She has a story all on her own. I won't take time today to fill you in. The brief of her history, is that she was (more or less) a rescue bird. A chicken man was "cutting down the size of his flock" and put them up for sale. I was the fish that bit that line. He told me, "They are 2-3 years old", and lay nicely. Well, he didn't lie about that. Those birds I bought from him, were laying fools. They were not in amazing shape however, and I was determined I'd take as many as I could get that day. I did, and ended up with 13 birds, of which she was one.
Soggy-Bottom-Girl, is called that mostly because she has a weak vent and it leaks. I'll wait a few seconds, while you get that mental image...
Her butt is always wet. It's not her fault though. I think she must have had a horrible fight with other birds while he had her, because her right eye-lid is droopy and she doesn't see as well with it. Then there's that issue of her bottom. Even if I had the slightest idea of getting rid of her, that thought would have been dashed with her ability to lay massive aqua eggs. They were the prettiest eggs I'd ever seen... However, getting rid of her never even popped up.
Here in the chicken yard, we have 5 colored egg layers. They are, Victoria, Elizabeth, Soggy-Bottom-Girl, Little-Owl, and Farrah.
Bantam Aqua Egg
Both Farrah and Little-Owl are a bantam weight "Easter-Egger" bird of little more than 2 pounds and they lay lovely greenish-blue eggs. I'm holding a small egg of Farrah's (above).
Now, if you talk about different personality birds from the same group of eggs, it's these two. Farrah is flighty, and unfriendly. She views people as EEEEEVIL and wants nothing to do with them, except the food we bring.
Little-Owl is Amazing! She is my constant companion out in the chicken yard. She's with me almost all the time, while I am working out there. If I ignore her, she'll hop up and grab onto a finger she can reach, and then stare at me, wanting UP. If I stoop down, she happily awaits for me to lift her up and kiss her birdy face, and hug her. She hugs right back...
Honestly, 4 years ago when I began this journey, I didn't know hens hugged... I do now.
♥♥The Chicken Mom♥♥
Amazed Disgusted and Shocked
I need to warn you in advance, this is not for the faint of heart, OK? If you get squeamish easily, ya best click off and leave now.
(You will sometimes see links to my other blog so you can do more reading, if you would like.)
Putting off the chicken coop cleaning was done for long enough! I'd fiddle-farted around most of the spring and the spiders and icky stuff was beginning to get to me (Insert disgusted face here (Really I wish I had one of those "insert face here" on this blog-post editor!).
Weekly, one needs to clean the shavings of poop, and then do general maintenance, of raking, picking up random bits of trash and god-knows-what, that the hens dig up in the yard. Then you have to clean up the storage area of the stuff you thought you wanted to keep and now find you can surely do without.
It's all good, but it can wear you out. I'd let this go for several weeks now and was sort of tired with all the catching up I'd done for the last hour.
Along with the usual cleaning, I also decided to do that Spring Cleaning, I skipped doing! I'm going to hate myself in the morning, I can tell already.
When my husband brings me the pressure washer, I'm elated that I get to blast the shit out of stuff with water, but appalled at the thought of how much my arms are going to hurt in the morning.
I begin by washing down the walls, back corner, then out to the front corner. After that, I blast the roof where the spider webs are! If you are as arachnophobia prone as I am, you know that you would also back out closer to the door, one step at a time, while you blast away. Just so you don't end up with an unhappy spider landing down your shirt...
As I finish up the coop area, I move over to the nesting area where they work their magic laying eggs. It's pretty dusty in there and thankfully the girls are finished laying. With the exception of one hen laying claim to that area it's free and clear. I move the grumpy broody hen out of the way, for now. She officially hates me, at the moment... =/
I take down the nesting boxes which are held in place with Zip-Ties. I can always put them back when I'm done washing the area down. When I do that and move a bit of plastic which had fallen down on the floor, a passel (a bunch) of baby rats scrambled out of the area. They shot everywhere! Left, Right, Between my feet, Over my feet... It was pandemonium in that place!!
About that time, the hens saw the scrambling baby rats and .... well.... Nature took it's course...
I'd never seen so many chickens running around with rats for dinner in my life! It was disgusting, disturbing and fascinating! I didn't want to watch, but like a soap-box show on TV, you just can't miss what's going on.
I knew that chickens ate other critters. I'd seen them devour snakes, and kill other animals who had the distinct misfortune of finding their way in the coop; like a squirrel and a few birds, and random mice. I had never seen them GULP down a whole baby rat before. Kill something yes, but Eat it? Ick... Dear God. I was now damaged goods. You just can't unsee some things...
With that said, I was totally fascinated with how they beat the snot out of them, then swallow them head-first. The fights that broke out in the coop I was powerless to change, except maybe push them apart; which I did. I even moved some of the small dead rats into a hole so I could bury them, but the hens took them out before I could get the others collected. I finally gave up and said, FINE! Eat Rat! They did....
And they ate and ate and ate.... What they didn't eat they left half dead, and I had to finish off the little rat babies. Can you imagine what that did to me? Dear God, I wanted chickens but not this!
Just one more thing "they" don't tell you when you decide to have backyard chickens.
You can read up on this, till the cows come home but you aren't prepared for the real life with chickens (the other blog of mine).
By now I'm pretty shell shocked and just keep clicking photos, so you can live though my experiences. It's not always easy, lemme tell ya! Below are more (yes graphic) photos of the hens enjoying Rat, a la carte'.
This tiny New Hampshire Red pullet, is only 12 weeks old and she's a master of killing and consuming baby rats. It's kind of unnerving to think that I could be dinner as well, if I ever passed out in the coop. =/
This young Red SexLink was one of the most persistent and aggressive. No sooner than I removed a rat from her, she found another one, or grabbed the one I had, back in her beak. She was so determined to eat it, I finally just gave it back to her, and grabbed my camera.
They beat them on the ground, to make sure they are dead then swallow them head first (just like you have seen a snake or a lizard eat).
OK One More...
Don't say I didn't warn you... You just can't Un-See some things...
♥The Chicken Mom♥
To Free-Range or Not Free-Range Chickens
A lot of folks have asked me "Are your Birds "free-ranged"? "Well, No, they aren't" I'd say. This article is about the , Why" questions I get.
So, you have spent about 16 weeks or maybe more raising your lovely little biddies. Ya know, those adorable little bundles of fluff you nuzzle your face into, and kiss the little birdy-beaks of? Yea, those things... Well, it's a Huge investment, for the emotions, especially if the birds have any personality. You run the danger of falling in love; period.
Here, you are, the big day you get to let your lovely little brood out into the wide open spaces of lush green grasses and plants to nibble and bugs to eat. What a GLORIOUS time!! Right?
Lets refer to that little picture above us.... Do you see it? Yea, right there!!! That's another lovely little bundle of fluff who would like nothing better to have chicken for it's breakfast.
Now, let me interject here. I really, really adore hawks. As a matter fact, I truly enjoy all birds of prey. They are majestic and full of ancient wisdom (So I've been told). However, the avian world of predator and prey just doesn't mix well with Chickens. They are just "meal-time" to any healthy hawk. I don't blame them, they are delicious!
My Attitude Change Came ...
The appearance of Barred Owls, Red-Shouldered Hawks and Cooper's Hawks in my yard, just changed the playing field for my "girls" and me. I really love seeing the hens out pecking and scratching. It was one of my true loves in life. Now the hens live safely tucked inside my Chicken Yard with overhead fencing as well as two layers of fencing on the sides. We really went to great time and effort (along with blood) to secure a safe place for the hens. Well, now they are forced to use it!
Did you know that Barred Owls feed between dusk and then at dark? I did, but guess what? I also noticed they feed in the late afternoon. Around here, between 3-5 were peak feeding times in the Fall for Owls. I don't notice them much in the high-heat days of Summer.
If your ladies are still out in the yard feeding, they will become dinner for an Owl, or any other predator, including neighborhood Dogs, or Cats (Yes, some feral cats can take down a hen), and Bob-Cats are common in areas which still have "TREES". (It tweaks me off, that so many trees are being hacked down). For today we will leave out the ever present Raccoon, who does more damage than any overhead predator.
OK! So, that is "Dinner for Predators 101" for you folks out there who always say..."Free-Range" is the best range...
FYI ... My chicken yard is huge. I mean 25x50 Huge with overhead protection.
This is 4 years old now and many changes have been made but it's been an excellent protection pen.
Thanks for coming and reading!
♥♥The Chicken Mom ♥♥
Life With Chickens
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