Sunday, October 26, 2008

Chicken Portraits

Remember, you can click on the photo to see a larger version of it.Easter Egger Chicken Well, I think the Princess Chicken turned out to be a rooster after all. It is growing spurs and also does still occasionally crow. The feathers on its neck look more traditionally male than female. On the other hand, it doesn't strut around like the other 3 roosters. In fact, it acts decidedly hen-like, even though its tail has elongated to rooster proportions and it has other "roostery" attributes. Nice example of a classic "rose" comb here - but also note absence of wattles. Could it still be a hen - just a hen with extra testosterone? If it is a rooster, it isn't even really number 4 of 4 - the other 3 roosters don't even treat it like it's a rooster. My friend says that maybe "he" is a San Francisco Princess. In any event, the Prince/Princess is healthy and happy.

Silver Laced Wyandotte Hen Silver Laced Wyandotte Pullet (Hen) - she is puffed out and settled down for the night. Note the small "rose" comb and dark beak. Generally speaking, these are the first ones to come running when I head towards the chicken run with "goodies."
Maran Hen Maran Pullet (Hen) - of the three types of hens in my flock, these are the most aggressive towards other hens. The Top Hen is a Maran and roosts on the ladder, higher up than even the roosters. They don't have true "rose" combs, but have a little "mini-comb." The Maran rooster has a full comb and full wattles. You can see the hen barely has any wattles (the red skin flaps that hang from their cheeks).
Maran Rooster Head Rooster ready for Sleepy Time. He is a Maran rooster and is the "Top Dog" in the chicken coop. Note full comb and wattles. I hope they don't get frost bit this winter.
Easter Egger Rooster "Easter Egger (EEs)" rooster. The EEs were sold as "Ameracaunas," but I am not sure that they are truly such. In any event, this is my prettiest rooster. In fact, he is the prettiest chicken in the whole flock. I am hoping to breed him to the white EEs in the summer. He is 3rd out of four on the hierarchy ladder.
Silver Laced Wyandotte Hen on ladder Speaking of ladders, here is a Silver Laced Wyandotte peaking out from her nightly roost on the ladder.
Easter Egger Hen An Orange/Brown EE Pullet (Hen) - The brown EEs seem to have an attitude issue. The white EEs don't seem to have this problem. Perhaps they are not related to the Orange/Brown ones. This one tends to come up behind me and pick at the rivets in my jeans or painfully pluck at my wedding ring.
Easter Egger Hen
White "EE" Pullet. A bit less agressive than their darker cousins.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Is it Spring yet? And selling eggs...

This photo was taken in mid-April in California. So at least 6 months before anything green even thinks of poking its head up out of the sand here in Nevada.

There are some advantages to winter, though. First off, it isn't so doggoned hot. Of course, that probably means it is freezing cold. We do get a few weeks where it is actually nice, though. Maybe one in April, maybe a few in May, a few in September. If we're lucky, a few in October.

Another advantage of winter is that the winds die down, meaning there is less dust in the air. On a cold, clear November night, you can see stars beyond imagination. Those of you who live your lives in the city miss one of the joys of rural life - turning off all the lights and sitting on the porch with a good dog at your feet and counting stars. In November, there are no blood-thirsty bugs to feast on you at night. I think even if you were a hard-core atheist, at a moment like that, you would be tempted to Believe.

Peas were planted two days before the sub-20°F night. So far, none have peaked up from the ground. Perhaps I was too late in planting them? I was hoping for pea vines for the chickies to munch on in winter, even if we didn't get any peas.

Garlic is here and ready to plant out. My living room smells so yummy with the bulbs waiting for me there - waiting for me to

  • get off my duff
  • build them a cage to protect them from marauding chickens
  • put them in the ground

The basil, of course, died with the first 30°F night, but the oregano keeps on as well as the sweet marjoram. Surprisingly, the rosemary also still survives. The tips are a little frost-killed, but I think if I mulch it well, perhaps it will come back in the Spring. Gardeners, I am sure, are eternal optimists. Even after we are dead and buried, there is always Next Spring.

About selling chicken eggs...

Of course, one must count one's eggs before the chickens actually start laying. It's the way it is done! So even though no one is laying yet... with 25 hens, and 2 of 3 laying an egg every day, we could have 18-20 eggs or so during peak season. That could mean that I have 10 dozen eggs a week to sell at the farmer's market. Enough to beak even in cost of driving expenses and almost a weeks worth of chicken feed. An added bonus is that my granddaughter lives in the same town as the little farmer's market that I would attend. So it would just be another excuse to see her every week. Any eggs that didn't sell I could give to my daughter.

But to really make it worth it from a dollar perspective, I think I would need 100 hens... but that is starting to sound like work. I have to remember, the chickens are for therapy and entertainment, not work! ...and maybe I can sell some garlic, too...

With the idea that I might have a very small egg business, here are some resources I have found...on the other hand, I have not been able to find anything useful on the laws that I need to comply with...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

22°F this morning in the coop

From Left to Right: White & Blakc Ameraucana, Maran Hen, Maran Rooster, back end of a Silver Laced Wyandotte, White Ameraucana (aka The Princess Chicken).

Of course, that was too cold for me to go mucking about in the wane morning light. All of these pictures were taken in the coop in the evening while it was a balmy 34°F.
Closer view of the Maran Hen (left) and Maran Rooster (right). It's difficult to tell in this photo, but the hens are all quite a bit darker in coloring, with little rose combs. The rooster is a lot larger than the hens, and his comb is traditional rooster looking, not rose at all. And, of course, he crows. A lot. And not just at sunrise, but whenever he darn well feels. He crows at me when I enter the coop and startle him, and he crows at my german shepard. I think he just likes to hear himself crow. The other two roosters don't crow nearly as much.
A trio of Silver Laced Wyandotte hens. They have almost no combs. I chose the Marans both for the dark brown eggs that they lay, and also, because, like the Wyandottes, they have small combs. I'm hoping this will help avert frost bite.
Closer view of a Silver Laced Wyandotte hen. Note her red earlobes. She will lay traditional brown eggs (not nearly as dark as the Marans).
Left to Right: Ameraucana rooster, Maran hen, Brown/Orange Ameraucana - all puffed out and mad because I woke her up - two Silver Laced Wyandottes.
Brown/Orange Ameraucana and a Silver Laced Wyandotte - I stuck my finger under the Wyandotte - nice and toasty under the feathers and in her down. Feet all warm, too. They are perched on 2" x 4" boards with the wide side parallel to the floor so they can cover all of their feet when roosting. Supposed to help prevent frostbite on the toesies.
And, of course, no photo shoot could be complete without a photo of The Princess Chicken. Since the roosters have started crowing and growing spurs, she (we still think she is a she) has stopped crowing. She is acting more feminine, too - not nearly as agressive as she used to be. Still, we don't have eggs from her, yet, so she still might be a he. White Ameraucana. Ameraucanas lay blue or green eggs, with the color being specific to the hen (i.e. she will lay all blue or all green eggs, and not a mixture).
Maran hen on top of an 8 ft ladder. She's the top hen and she always wants to roost as high up as possible. I left the ladder in the coop after adjusting the heat lamp (the ladder is far from the lamp) - and now she has taken over. I guess I will have to presure wash and bleach before returning it to my husband!

By the way, the heat lamp doesn't really heat the coop, but it does keep the waterer mostly deiced - meaning that I won't usually have to go chip ice for them in the wee hours before work.