The Chicken Dance

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This is Black Chicken, accomplice to White Chicken who will be finding a new home together soon because they can’t shut up

I’ve wanted chickens for as long as I can remember. Finally getting some was a learning curve. You don’t just “get chickens”, you begin doing the chicken dance.

Let’s forget about all the stuff like coop building, basic care and maintenance, parasites or integration of different birds. I’m talking about the fact that laying heritage breed chickens have a window of productivity from about 6 months of age to about three years old.  Before that they are chicks and after that they taper off laying and are generally replaced. On top of this, there are certain other things involved in keeping chickens I never really considered.

I started with three Buff Orpington chicks. One was a roo, so he had to go. One pullet was killed by a raccoon before the coop was fully finished. Then I got a Columbian Rock and a Red Rock chick. Both grew into nice, reliable hens. I bought two huge Blue Orpington girls. They starting breaking all the other eggs in the nest from their weight so they had to be resold. I got three Black Copper Maran chicks, one was a roo and had to go. Then one of the two hens was sold because I was getting too many eggs. After that I sold my last Buff Orpington because she kept going broody to the point of near-death and bought a nice Barred Rock pullet instead. Then I hatched some Easter Eggers, out of which I got one nice little pullet. Now I’m trying to sell my Columbian Rock and Red Rock hens because although they are great producers, they are just too noisy in the mornings and I have to sleep with a pillow over my head.

Once these two chatty ladies are gone I’ll be down to three hens. This seems like a good number since it’s just me here now, although the dogs do help me eat the eggs. I haven’t had any hens long enough yet to retire them, although I’ve “retired” a couple of hundred spent layers and roos from other local flocks. I’m curious to see how productive my hens remain as they age, if I can ever hold on to one long enough. This has also led to wanting hens that all lay different colored eggs, so I know what’s up.

I’m at the point where I don’t really want baby chicks anymore. They’re incredibly cute, but they take too much care before they can become good producers, if they even make it that far. I’ll probably stick to buying pullets or hens at the local poultry swaps or from online ads if I need more eggs, or let’s be honest, more chickens. I do really enjoy trying out the different breeds and learning about them. I can always sell them right?

In the Coop: Nest Box Pile Up

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“Oh no please, allow me!”

The first livestock I ever got upon purchasing my first house a year and half ago were four little Muscovy ducklings. I was planning to raise them to eventually hatch their own eggs. Unfortunately one morning, as they were nearing laying age, they were all massacred by two roaming neighborhood pitbulls. It was grisly and heartbreaking.

Fast forward to today, I now have the most secure coop on the block and a new pair of Muscovies living safely inside. About a week or so ago I noticed a somewhat larger, waxy, off-white egg in the nest box. Hmm, did I have a chicken with a health issue? I brought the egg inside and was about to research it when I realized… Of course, it’s a duck egg.

YES! I had my first duck egg. Every day there was another one and I dutifully removed any chicken eggs that appeared in the nest, hoping she would sit on the clutch. Well, it turns out that I now have another first, my first broody hen. Obviously it was the Buff Orpington who went broody first, can she tell these eggs have been fertilized or what?

Unfortunately the duck wants to brood her eggs too. So what does that leave us? A duck and a chicken stuffed into the same nest – a fluffed up and hissing pile of poultry.