Bwaawwkkk! First day at the new junior high

September 13, 2009 at 7:48 pm Leave a comment

sunnySome people are horse-traders — or were, back when horses labored for their keep.

I am a chicken-trader. Of my first nine chickens, only three are still with me — Agatha, the Deleware; Beatrice, the Rhodie; and Viviana, the Americuna. The others have come and gone, sold, given away or traded as I’ve tried to get just the perfect little flock of backyard chickens, ones who get along with each other, are friendly to people, lay large eggs  regularly and are interesting to look at.

This year, my friend Pamela and I both raised chickens from day-old chicks this year, our first try at it (last year, I bought young adult hens to start). We figured we’d keep some, share with my neighbor Judy, and finally sell the rest to those looking for their own little flock of backyard pets. I raised my chicks first — they arrived in April –  and gave Judy and Pamela a half-dozen or so each — Rhode Island and New Hamphire Reds, and Americunas.

Pamela’s chicks arrived three  months after mine, and they’re all feathered out now and ready to go to their new homes.  Pamela has already banded the handful she absolutely wants to keep, and Judy has taken a half-dozen home as well. This morning I went to choose my final additions to the flock for this year.

While I had chosen just a few well-known breeds to raise, Pamela had gone for the “little of everything” collection, with about 20 different of chicks — so many beautiful young chickens it was hard to choose from among them. I have wanted another Polish since Einstein died, and fortunately she had three of them — shiny black chickens with huge tufts of white feathers on their heads. So I have a new Einstein.

I also picked out a pretty golden Campine, and a couple of pullets with feathers on their feet. The Campine I’ve now named Sunny (she’s pictured here), but I’m not naming any of the rest yet: I have more chickens than I have room to care for, so I’ll be watching to see who’ll stay and who’ll be going to hook another family on backyard chickens.

In all, I have 18 chickens, only three with names — four, now. About a half-dozen will be finding new homes before winter sets in.

There are chickens from four different age groups — the three originals, from last year, the ones I raised this spring, the ones I bought from a demonstration farm and now, the ones from Pamela’s. I integrate them all in the same way: Put the new girls into a pen within the larger pen, and then remove the boundary when everyone seems OK with the newbies. By breed, here’s the list: Delaware, Rhode Island Red, New Hampshire Red, Barred Rock, Black Australorp, Gold-Laced Wyandotte, Golden Campine, Polish, Americuna and three pullets of the “we don’t know” category.

I tell you, though, having hens is like a replay of junior high. The cliques are amazing, and if you watch for a while you can tell who the cool chicks are. If you’re a nerd chick, you’d better not sit down at the same table in the lunchroom, or the cool chick’s posse will mess you up.

So far, the new girls are safe behind in their little pen, while the cool chicks and their posse lay down the law in the main enclosure.…

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Our Dr. Becker debuts on ‘The Dr. Oz Show’ Wednesday Bwaawwkkk! First day at the new junior high

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