Friday, January 4, 2013

And than there were three

We started out with 4 hens, well pullets really.  They were 3 months old and we waited with what patience we could muster for the next 3 months for our first egg.  When they started laying we were so happy.  Having chickens turned out to be even more fun than I had imagined, so of course I wanted more.  About 6 months after getting the first 4 we added two more Cochin to our flock.  These fluffy, feathered legged little girls were a great addition.  Adding new chickens to your flock is a serious project as chickens hate change and can be really brutal to each other.  An established flock can kill a new chicken if the process isn't handled appropriately.  So we took our time and allowed for the old girls to live next to the new girls for quite some time before we allowed the new pullets to roam free with the big girls.  To read more about how to add new birds to your flock click here.

Soon our beloved Cochins, Flower and Elizabeth began laying.  Shortly after beginning to lay eggs Flower became broody, she wanted to have babies.  I wanted to get Cochins for several reasons.  First because I love their fluffy rumps and feathered legs, second because I knew they had a tendency towards going broody and I was very excited to have some baby chicks.  So I found some fertile eggs from two different farms and placed them under Flower and three weeks later we had babies!  It was a lovely experience, read more about that here.

Well we had to keep two of the babies.  Tiger and Blueberry stayed and joined our flock.  Now we had 8 hens in our little back yard.  Than Elizabeth, the other Cochin went broody.  She was not as good of a mother and only one baby hatched.  He turned out to be a cockerel, growing quickly into a rooster.  We didn't name him and we knew his life was going to be short.  When he started to crow he would become dinner. (Another post will follow soon to discuss his fate)  So now we had 9.  9 chickens in our little back yard.  It is winter and everyone is molting and there are no eggs being laid and we had 9 chickens.  I also know that Flower would go broody in the Spring and I have stumbled upon the world of truly original chickens.   I want to get some new breeds of fertile eggs, some really special breeds and have Flower raise them in her competent motherly way and of course I would like to keep a few.  So I was at an impasse.  If I had land I would just keep letting my flock grow and enjoy it.  But I don't.  So I checked in with my wonderful sister-in-law Shea.  She lives on 3 acres and has 5 or so chickens who are getting up there in age - maybe 6 years old.  "Do you want some more chickens?" I ask.  "Yes, yes, yes!"  she replies.  It would seem I have stumbled upon a symbiotic chicken relationship and what a lovely home for the girls.  Ranging on an acre with some sheep - a chicken's dream.

So off go Yoko, Boulder, Minnow, Blueberry and Cookie to their new home.  I am a little sad, I give a little sniffle - I will miss those girls.  But, they are happy and now we have room.  Less than a week after they go, it is time to 'harvest' the rooster.  For those of you that don't know harvest is the new PC word for slaughter.  I new this was his path, but it was still a long trip to the farm where his final moments would take place.  More on that later.

So now we have three girls left.

Flower the white Cochin and best mother in the world (who is still coming out of molt).

Elizabeth the partridge Cochin

And Tiger our Americana/Jersey Giant cross

Here are the girls wondering if it is worth challenging the cat for some left over eggs.

So now we wait, as patiently as we can for our little Flower to go broody.   I have never been so excited for Spring!