>When I was out yesterday picking up my veggies I spent a few minutes staring at the chickens, which I assume are yours. So here are my random questions:
Why are there so many different kinds? I saw brown, and black white speckled, and these monstrously feathered chickens.
What are these monstrously feathered chickens?
Some of the chickens were rolling around in shallow holes in the ground – what are they doing? Is that a dust bath?
Do the chickens get locked up in the hen-house every night? Is that where you collect the eggs when they are laying?
As to the veggies, I’ve had a cook-o-rama day! Today is the day I cook my lunches for next week and I’ve had a fabulous morning roasting beets, cooking potatoes, cleaning greens for salad and eyeing that squash to roast!
>Katherine,Thank you for your questions! Here are your answers:1. We have different varieties of chickens now, basically because I got bored. When I was a kid I had lots of different chickens. While other teenage girls were at the mall, I was poring over my chicken hatchery catalog. Of course, I didn’t have a farm then, so I was limited to only about 20 chickens at a time, but I still drooled over what my “mystery chick” would grow up to be. (McMurray Hatchery offers a free exotic breed chick with every order.) We’ve had the hybrid chickens for years now, and while they may produce more eggs in their short-term productive life, they are all pretty much the same—brown, or black. This year I wanted my old breeds back, even if it means a few less eggs. The brown ones are Rhode Island Reds, the black and white ones are Barred Plymouth Rocks, the black ones are Black Australorps (and there is a magnificent black rooster as well, with crooked toes). The average sized ones that aren’t any of the above, with muffs on their cheeks are Auracaunas, the hens that lay blue eggs. 2. The huge, puffballs are my absolute favorite—they are Cochins, and in this collection there are the Buff and Blue varieties. We ended up with a lot of Blue roosters, the hens are smaller, but still large by chicken standards. They are calm, regal, and they are able sweeten the personality of the entire flock. They will make it easier for the kids to take over chicken chores in the spring.3. All birds bathe. Water birds bathe in water, and land birds bathe in dust. Mostly they do this because it feels good, and because they like to have contests to see who can throw the dust highest into the air. They also do it to evict pests like fleas and mites. 4. We haven’t needed to lock up the chickens in their house at night, but they are enclosed by a tall fence to keep the coyotes out. Any birds that escape during the day have figured out how to get back in at night. We did lose a few of the less-bright though. Last spring we lost all but two of our flock of 35 laying ducks to coyotes in a matter of two hours because I let them play in the rain a bit longer instead of locking them in their pen. Now we are extra cautious. When we had a raccoon visiting a few months ago we were forced to lock them in at night, because raccoons can climb the fence, and they make a bloody mess of chickens. That visitor is no longer with us. And yes, there are nests inside the chicken house where the hens will put their eggs (generally) when they are laying. The ground is getting bare in there, and as soon as we catch up on garlic planting we will be moving the chickens to another spot with greenery.
>Thanks Shelley for the information! You even mentioned the ducks, which I forgot to ask about. Sorry to hear about the loss – that must have been rather tragic to find.
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