Thursday, April 7, 2011

My Chickens

It is an amazing experience to raise a baby chick! You get to watch it grow from a downy bit of fuzz to a big, egg-laying hen, regal rooster, or diminutive bantam.

This is only my second year with chickens. I’d never kept even a goldfish before, so raising them was a new experience.

Barred Rock hen, named Mary Lou

Silver Laced Wyandotte hen from Storey's Illustrated Guide
to Poultry Breeds, page 103
© Adam Mastoon

In April 2010 the adventure began with six little chicks: two Silver Laced Wyandottes (Desdemona and Ophelia), one Black Sex-Link (Blackie), two Barred Rocks (Mary Lou and Annabel), and one Rhode Island Red (Rosie) named by my young sister. I ordered them from our local Agway a month ahead of time and suffered through March waiting for the chicks to come in.

The girls

An adult Rhode Island Red rooster from Storey's Illustrated Guide
to Poultry Breeds, page 70
© Adam Mastoon

Finally, they came! All six beady-eyed little chicks took up residence in our kitchen in a cardboard box. I kept them scrupulously clean, and they grew into fat, happy, talkative pullets.

Then I started going on and discovered Silkies! Those fluffy creatures captured my imagination, and I bought three straight-run chicks from a breeder. They were Partridge, Splash, and Lavender split and were absolutely adorable with their dark eyes and feathered five-toed feet! My sister named them Salt, Pepper, and Cinnamon.

Silkie chicks: Salt, Pepper, and Cinnamon

An adult Silkie chicken from Storey's Illustrated Guide
to Poultry Breeds, page 158
© Adam Mastoon

Unfortunately, all of them turned out to be roosters! I was forced to rehome Pepper before he killed Cinnamon. I still have Cinnamon and Salt, though, as well as a Partridge hen from a friend. Cinnamon is now the father of three chicks I hatched from the hen’s eggs: Poppy, Cinnamon Bun, and Cayenne.

And it went from there! Currently, there are 21 babies in the kitchen, in addition to 3 older Silkie chicks, 8 hens and 2 roosters; Cinnamon and Salt live in the coop; and there's a Serama pair in a cage. Fifteen of the chicks are Cornish Rock meat birds, because I thought it would be fun to raise some chickens for eating, as well as for the delicious fresh eggs.

Chickens really are amazing creatures! They adapt to being pets, livestock, egg machines, or entertainment with ease. Chickens are also the best way to start raising farm animals because they are relatively easy to care for . . . and addicting!

Diana B., friend of Storey Publishing


Diana B. said...

Thanks for publishing my article, but the photo marked "Silver laced Wyandotte Rooster" is actually a Barred Rock hen, named Mary Lou. :)

Kristy Rustay said...

Sorry for the mistake Diana. The photo now has the correct caption. And, thank you for the post!

Elena said...

You are doing a great work! I'd love to have a backyard, but I am living in two room apartment.