Poultry update

IMG_1539Nixie Knox says, what’s all that racket?

As of Wednesday, 3 June, our household has 74 feathered creatures.  The tally:  50 day-old chicks (40 meat/10 egg), 5 teenaged bantams, 3 teenaged egg-laying chickens, 7 egg-laying chickens of various ages, 3 guineas, 3 turkeys, and 3 geese, with Mother Goose sitting on 10 eggs which are probably duds.

That is a LOT of poultry, people!


Chicken Patty, doing time in solitary confinement

The grand experiment for the day?  Chicken Patty has gone broody again (!!) so I put her on a nest in a dog kennel and then stuck a chick under her last night.  Shhh.  It appears to be working!  Another chick tonight…


Baby Goose is called Jeffrey (from Charlotte’s Web of course), though it’ll be a long time before we figure out if he’s really a he.  This gosling was hatched out by our ever-patient turkey hen Ruby on Mother’s Day.  She ignored him as she had her own little baby to tend to, so he went right in with his parents the same day.  Considering Yoli (Yolanda, the goose) was sitting, I figured Mel the gander would either attack him or would care for him:  let’s just say that hanging out with Dad all day has been great for Jeffrey.  He’s HUGE.  Mel’s done a great job.

IMG_1554Ruby and baby, quite happy in the meadow

Baby Turkey has no name other than Thanksgiving Dinner.  S/he is doing so well with Ruby.  Ruby flew into the pen with the geese and our tom turkey Earl a couple of days back so they’re all happy together in there.  In general, parent-raised poultry is the best thing ever.  They may be shy of people but I swear their brains and their bodies grow much better this way.

The bantams.  Ah, the bantams!  I have three roosters of the 5 birds, and I have no idea: they could ALL be male.  Sigh.  They moved in with The Big Girls about a week ago.  The guineas hate them, but they’re too fast for even the guineas to peck.  The three are trying to crow but it sounds like a bunch of chicks with headcolds.

The three egg-laying chicks used to be four, but we lost one, one of the two Buff Orpingtons.  I have had the remaining three spend their days in the garden and greenhouses, nights in the temporary coop.  Living in a little temporary coop all day makes them stupid, I think:  letting them out and dealing with what little damage they do out there is fine as a half-step (kind of like finishing school) before life with the Big Girls.  They’ve learned to forage, scratch, and get dust-baths, all without fearing for their lives.  They move from the temporary coop to life in Gen Pop on Friday.

And the fifty peeping babies.  Sigh, babies!  With luck this will be the absolute last year I have to order chicks.  (With luck, crossing fingers, burning sage, doing a voodoo dance, etc.)

IMG_1583Verloe says, come join my flock!

12 responses to “Poultry update

  1. No, no, you cannot eat Ruby’s Mothers’ Day peep for thanksgiving.
    What kind of grandmother does that?

  2. How perfect is that! Your very own poultry farm. I love hearing about all your birds… especially the geese. Someday, when I have really lost my mind, I hope to have geese, a couple goats, and perhaps even a pig… oh yeah, I shant forget the wife’s donkey dreams either. I did raise three little/big pigs about fifteen years ago… it was fun, sort of.

    I told you about one of my goofy chickens throwing straw all over her back, it turned out that she was broody. I have been working on discouraging her from setting though as we are not ready for anymore chickens quite yet. I think she might be a bit on the crazy side as well, one of the strangest animals I have ever encountered.

    We would have liked bantam hens over our reds. There have been so many hawks in the area over the last few years due to a huge vole population explosion that I opted for a larger bird instead. I look forward to seeing yours though.

    By the way, how in the world do you come up with so many interesting names for all those critters. I still have only named about 7 of our chickens, of course it doesn’t help that ours all look alike.

    Your daughter is SO fortunate to be growing up in this way, learning so many “real” things. You can most certainly pat yourself on the back for a job well done in that area. Keep up the good works.

    • Hah, Mike, pigs and goats are on my list too…but I don’t have donkey dreams yet! But I just wanted to let you know that all chickens are named after great- (and great-great-great) grandmothers. The geese and turkeys are named after two loving great aunt/uncle pairs. Ruby and Earl were organic kitchen gardeners in Michigan’s upper peninsula and were my dad’s uncle and wife; Yoli and Mel were Tom’s dad’s aunt and husband from Traverse Bay. It is fun to put this genealogical study to practical use. I would’ve never come up with Letha and Verloe and Margie and Beatrice on my own!

  3. Oh! I have chicken envy. 🙂

  4. I just love your poultry posts. We’re expecting our own box of fluff next week – I can’t wait!
    Off to scour your archives for some tips…

  5. guineas!

    Can you tell me about your Guineas? I am seriously thinking of adding Guineas to our list of animals.


    • Oh Linda. They’re good and bad. They’re loud and they’re wild (downside) but they lay more eggs in summer than the working girls do. Here’s a post I did about them a while back. They’re here to stay because my neighbor said they didn’t bother him, otherwise they’d have been stew a while ago.

  6. You won’t have to order more chicks, hopefully. Do you have a plan for keeping your poultry from inbreeding? Some of mine have crossbred and they just aren’t as pretty!

    The approximate rate of male/female in a group of chicks that haven’t been sexed is about 50/50! Yikes. That’s a lot of roosters!

  7. You do love your poultry! Almost enough to make me want to raise my own. But I don’t think I’m up to the challenge. Instead, we make a weekly run to a nearby neighbor who raises her own. Last night, we stopped at IHOP for dinner before going out for eggs. Spouse’s egg dish looked anemic, pale, shriveled and totally unappetizing. I am totally hooked on the byprouducts of home grown poultry.

  8. I too have poultry envy, even though I have my own chickens and chicks, I want turkeys! But that will have to wait until I finish my degree (going back to school late in life so I can provide better for my daughter) and can get my own place. Right now the in-laws we’re living with have been total saints as far as tolerating my keeping chickens and turning chunks of their backyard into a garden.

    Yeah El, I got my baby chicks last week, ordered through a local feed store and they screwed it up. I ended up with 4 of the 6 Chanteclers I ordered, and instead of the other two got a pair that I’m assuming are “Polish” because they have tiny feather crewcuts showing already, and a mystery white bird (it was mixed in with the cornish crosses, but it’s clearly a different breed).

    As far as the Donkey, I can’t say from experience, but if you recall Animal Farm, the Donkey was the coolest character.

  9. Pamela, I know! An evil one, certainly. Sigh.

    Mike, I think a lot of chickens have…unique personalities. Verloe for one is our loudest, proudest and most in-your-face chicken in a crowd of rather fearless birds. She’s a Rhode Island Red, like your birds, I think? And our daughter does appreciate this kind of life I think, mainly because I keep bringing her feathered playmates. But it occurred to her only recently that not everyone grows their own food. She actually felt sorry for someone (local) who doesn’t have room to grow anything on their beachfront property: how do they eat, then? she asked me.

    Rurality, you *still* have the critter cam though. And yeah tough luck on the short straw with the roosters! Yipes ours may end up that way too, though they’ll be a lot less filling, being only bantams after all.

    Cheryl it was surprising to me that Canada doesn’t have a lot of hatcheries! I was thinking of getting some Chanteclers from Ontario as, you know, it’s your national chicken, but learned that boxes of fluff in the mail wasn’t terribly common. You guys must be really excited! Hopefully they’ll get as nice a coop as your new tricked-out homestead! (it’s only fair, peep!)

    Petunia my grand plan for pretty chicken genetics is to wean myself down to one breed of chicken for eggs, one for meat, with the idea that all roosters are edible. SO, in this batch of birds I have two breeds of meat birds and the new breed of egg bird: the Speckled Sussex. Considering I now have 10 other different breeds of egg girls, finding the purebreeds and/or sussing out the pretty hybrids from their ugly sisters is going to be an…extended challenge! But yeah. 50/50 is “the natural way,” in re: sex distribution. The little roosters DO crack me up, though I do think their charm will wear off soon-ish.

    Oh yeah WS. I have done the Egg Demonstration to kids at school, cracking two eggs on a plate (mine and commercial). It’s quite fun hearing them all say Ewwww! And I had one person complain that my eggs were harder to separate than store-bought. I asked her if she’d refrigerated mine (I tend not to refrigerate our eggs) and she said she had. Room-temperature eggs can be separated quite easily. So…what I am saying is I am trying to create more converts too; sounds like you’re eggily hooked up quite fine down there in SoCal!

    Congrats, Rob, on going back to school! And how cool are your inlaws, eh? Sigh, more people should be able to keep turkeys, though. I just LOVE ours. Problem is, they impressed on us…I guess the ones that don’t or are parent-reared are not nearly so lapdog friendly. And they are BIG after all. I do like having this mix of critters though because they all keep us on our toes, keep us tuned in to the natural world. And thanks for the nudge re: Animal Farm, I had forgotten! Apparently a horse AND a donkey were kept at our farm as little as 8 years ago…hmm…

  10. What a hoot reading this blog entry. I do envy you with all your livestock! It must be fun as well as keeping you on your toes (to go chasing after errant birds, I trust…). But what a great lifestyle. Those poor, poor city folk just don’t know what they are missing.

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