Well, we continue to add to our little menagerie. Jack has got a bit of chicken fever and would have bought a truckload by now if I hadn't been watching him. I don't let him go near any chicken dealer without me! I have to admit I have been a little impatient myself, knowing that it would be fall before our little bitties start laying, so I agreed when he wanted to try to pick up 3 or 4 hens already laying. Finding them however, was easier said than done. You wouldn't believe how hard it is, in this region to find 1 year old hens or similar. We had to go all the way to Boaz, which is about 45 miles north of us to get these 3 and she didn't have many. Fortunately, they were reasonably priced, but the lady did admit she had heard laying hens were a hot commodity right now. So, we got 2 Barred Rocks, which I already like a lot and one Red Star, which we are okay with. The Red Star can be a little shit sometimes, so we call her Henny the Red.
The original bitties are growing like weeds! We have them in a little sectioned off area so the big hens don't take their food. I had heard you couldn't put little chicks any where near big chickens but we cautiously tried it and really didn't have any problems. However, due to the feed issue and the fact that Henny would occasionally pop one of the babies on the butt, we separated them. The Barred Rocks don't mind the chicks at all. They are very gentle and easy going.
Now, I can't really blame it all on Henny because this little crap right here in the front started the whole thing. We put Henny in first, just to see what would happen. Well, 4 or 5 of the little chicks ran up to her and formed a little line in front of her; they were checking her out. Henny bent down to their height and that's when Little Crap there rared back and nailed Henny just as hard as he could right between her eyes! I was shocked and even Henny was a little surprised but she promptly popped him a couple of times and they all ran off screaming. That was about the extent of the drama and the bitties steered clear of them from then on. But we separated them anyway and are making them a totally separate run.
This is Big Bertha. She's a sweet chicken and they have all given us 3 eggs every day since we got them. Only one of them has discovered the nesting boxes but I'm willing to give them a little time. They were not raised in a coop with actual boxes; just an outdoor pen with a pan on the ground. They have MUCH better accommodations now and I think they are enjoying it. Last night they slept up on their roosts. Probably the first time they ever had anything like that to get up on.
It's pretty dang cool to just walk out there and pick up the eggs. I think of it as kinda free food but of course, it's not. It's great anyway.
I know in a previous post I had mentioned the different breeds and that we were planning on eating many of them. I wasn't sure what breeds we would ultimately end up liking so we just got several and thought we would see what happened. Plus, if you buy them local, there is not a huge selection. So, I knew I wanted some light skinned birds for eating, because that is what we are so used to, and just a few others of whatever for eggs. I do like the brown eggs though. I had seen where McMurray offers Leghorns for meat even though they are a slimmer breed so we got some of those and some Buff Rocks. See, to me, if that chicken can't squirt and egg out it's behind, it's a meat chicken in my book. I'm not terribly picky about that. I just want them to have white or yellow skin and grow reasonably fast but not like those Cornish Rock things. I raised some of those once and they were bizarre.
I think now, after we go through these, the next batch I'm going to try Plymouth Rocks for meat. They are a heavier breed, white-skinned, reasonably calm and they are not as common as they once were, so I like the idea of producing more and helping to keep their breed going. But, I still have to get some and see how they do.