Thursday, January 28, 2010

Meet the flock

I was out today during this nice 60 degree weather, preparing for the freezing temperatures and snow we will get tomorrow night....I love NC weather.  I was outside most of the afternoon preparing the chickens for the cold weather, cleaning their pen and dumping compost and fresh chicken litter in the garden (that story later).

So I figured since this blog is new and some of you may know me and some of you may not, it would only be proper to introduce you to our flock.  Our chicken adventure started when I was teaching Agriculture and the Animal Science class hatched 30 leghorn chicks....perfect timing since the hubby and I (or maybe more myself) wanted to get some chickens.  We went to work building our chicken house and pen with the help of my father.  A few weekends later we had the Poultry Hotel dad says if a bad storm came along and we needed to take cover, the chicken house would be the only thing left standing!  We built it with the intentions of housing no more than 4 hens, which is all two folks need to provide fresh eggs.

As the chicks grew we introduced them to their new home and they seemed pretty content with our handiwork!  A few weeks later, out of our 4 straight run leghorns, 3 grew up to be roosters, our luck.  So we found homes for two, replaced them with a Araucana hen and Rhode Island Red hen.  So here was our new flock, Bandit the Araucana, Rhodie the RIR, Legs the Leghorn, and one Leghorn Rooster....who of course we named Foghorn.

All was well in the chicken house...until Foghorn started crowing.  Now we know that roosters crow, but we wanted to see just how loud Foghorn was going to be....loud enough.  So we found him a home and replaced him with Lacey, the Laced Winged Wyandotte (I know, our names are real original).  Our 4 happy hens grew big and strong and began laying eggs on a regular basis.  The great thing about having 4 different birds was the fact that each one of them laid a different colored egg!
Green-Araucana, White-Leghorn, Light Brown-Wyandotte, Dk Brown-RIR

We lost Lacey the Wyandotte about a month ago, not sure what happened.  She was squatting on the ground, limp.  Her eyes were clear and alert but she would not stand up.  Now, Lacey was not a social butterfly.  She did not like us and would not let us pick her up.  This day she did, we knew something was wrong.  We put her in a box with a heat lamp and hay and hoped she would come around.  After a few hours she was still limp and would not take food or water.  This is where having livestock and a "backyard" farm snaps you into the reality of caring for animals.  My wonderful and brave hubby had to gently put her out of her misery and bury her.  I will say that we are not against killing a chicken for food, even one you have raised yourself.  In fact, I think that is the best source of chicken, if you can handle to processing.  But these girls are our pets and our layers, so seeing one go kinda tugs at your heart strings. 


So 3 it is.  Legs, Bandit, and Rhodie are doing well.  With the colder temperatures we have put a heat light in their house.  This works two fold, keeps their water from freezing and keeps those girls laying eggs all winter.

Chickens are fun.  That's all there is to it.  Their antics are amusing, they talk to you when you come to feed them and they get so happy over the little fresh hay or an earthworm.  We could all learn a lesson or two from a chicken!

Here is a video of the girls after they got fresh hay.  If you aren't familiar with chicken breeds, the red one is the Rhode Island Red, the white one is the Leghorn, and the Brown speckled one is the Araucana.

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