Our Feathered Friends

I thought it might be time to introduce our Chickens.

In April we started with 28 chicks. We’d ordered a straight run (both male and female, but we didn’t know how many of each) of 25 Dominique chicks and the hatchery sent us two extra in case we lost a few during transit (one died shortly after) and threw in one free rare breed chick, what we later determined was a Golden Polish cock. We chose the Dominiques because they are a heritage breed, one the settlers took west because they are calm, cagey, compact, cold resistant, good layers and decent meat. Our plan was to raise the chicks until they were old enough for butchering and keep our two favorite roosters and between 6 – 10 hens for laying and put the rest up for the winter. The only catch was that we needed to be in the new house to have access to the freezer space needed to store our dinners. So we put it off.

Then we lost two hens to a visitor’s dog. We lost 10 when we moved the coop away from the garden in an attempt to get them to leave my squash alone. and they didn’t get the memo. We lost two more roosters (including our Polish cock, Frazz) one night when we didn’t pull the gang plank up until late at night and a fox or cyote tried to get in. They died bravely protecting their girls, but we were still sad. Most recently we lost one hen of unknown causes.

Because there were so many, and because we didn’t plan on having most of them around for long we only named a few. All the hens became Sheila. The top two roosters became Butch (who I wanted to name Cassidy, but he was so obviously “Butch”) and Sundance. Then there was Frazz, our goofy, bottom of the pecking order, got his ‘fro tonsured during the dog attack, Frazz. I don’t think we have any pictures of Frazz, which breaks my heart a little. One hen, one of the smallest, has become Shelia Rae, from one of my favorite childhood books, because she was always the most out going and adventurous. Lately, Sheila Rae has taken to spending much of her time in the house keeping Evan company while he works and laying her eggs in the sawdust under the table saw.

The other day she brought Butch and Sundance in with her. While this is adorable, I am putting my foot down when the hardwood goes in: No chickens in the house!

For now we still have 9 hens and two roosters, a few more than the coop Evan designed and built was intended to hold. During the day, however, the are always out side eating up their feed and tasty tidbits around the yard including bugs (most especially those Lyme carrying ticks!!) and the occasional frog. They do a good job on the stink bugs, too. They are just starting to lay regularly. We’ve been getting 5 or 6 small brown eggs a day, just enough for us and a extra dozen to share every week.

Things are going well, but we’re still novices. Any one have any chicken tips?


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