Chickens are probably the easiest and most useful backyard farm animal you can have, although quail are an excellent alternative. Also, they’re gosh-darn cute, funny to watch, and loveable pets, if you handle them daily from hatching. They only live a few years, however, and they lay well for two or three of those years. We have one elderly hen left from our last flock and she miraculously starting laying again this Spring. So, I was planning on buying new chicks, because we can’t have a rooster in our neighborhood. Then, the pandemic started raising its ugly head and I decided I’d better place my order early.
Check out this article about Americans buying a lot of baby chicks right now- Newsweek “Feathery Friends”
So I went to place my order and discovered the breeds I wanted had sold out long ago. As mentioned in my last post, FRONTIER HOUSE, the ability to adapt is essential in a survival situation. Being a ‘crazy chicken lady’ already, I knew how important a healthy new flock would be. So I ordered chicks which were still available and I knew to be good egg-laying breeds.
Note: It’s easier to adapt when you know your options in advance.
Then, eight days ago, I had the chance to buy a few of the breed I’d originally ordered, Rhode Island Reds.
I brought home four, but one died a day later. Which brings me to my next point. Chicks die. Last flock, I bought ten anticipating this, but all of them lived!
Yesterday, I went to pick up the rest of my flock. I’d ordered twelve altogether, but one of them arrived to the feed store already dead. The owner always orders extra chicks because of this, but all the extras had already been bought. So I brought home eleven.
That makes a total of 14 new chicks. We are keeping five and the others will be divided between my step-dad and brother. I bought three times as many chicks as I needed because I worried my extended family wouldn’t have the chance to buy their birds. My brother was able to buy a handful elsewhere too, thank goodness.
‘Cause here’s the thing. Chickens are a renewable resource, unlike toilet paper which must be manufactured from raw materials. A good flock of birds will feed your family indefinitely, if you have a rooster. My extended family can keep roosters, so I have them as back-up too.
Families look out for each other in crisis. 😉
Want to know the breeds? Okay, I’ll jot down the list. Bear in mind, I bought more expensive breeds and more variety of breeds than I’d planned, because they were the only good egg-layers left. Besides the Reds, the descriptions come from different hatcheries, none of which I used, but have good reputations. They may have more chicks now, since the demand has been high and they keep roosters to help meet demand. 😉 Otherwise, shop around.
3 RHODE ISLAND REDS – already linked to description above, lays brown eggs
4 Cream Legbars – lays blue eggs, descended from the Araucana like the Easter Eggers
5 Easter Eggers – also called Olive Eggers and Americaunas, these usually lay pastel green eggs, but sometimes blue
2 Black Copper Marans – dark brown eggs
Two of the Easter Eggers are very small and I suspect I was accidentally given the Bantam variety, which is totally fine with me. They’re so cute! I just hope they don’t get trampled by the bigger chicks. About three of these chicks will likely be roosters, the rest should be hens.
Mm, I think I want cornbread with my scrambled eggs this morning!
P.S. Added on 4/7 – One of the Cream Legbar chicks died the next day. About 10% of newly hatched chicks die, but it still saddens me. These are valuable egg-layers, but also adorable pets for us. Here’s a description of the breed from a reputable hatchery – McMurray’s Cream Legbars