Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Which came first, back to the beginning.

My very first chickens were two meat birds, my parents bought them for me as an Easter gift. The rooster became very large and very mean so we had to eat him. The hen however I wanted to keep, I did not understand at the time that these white rock cross chickens often die from being so large and growing so fast. I was crushed when my hen died and my family still tease me to this day about being heartbroken over her loss. Well I had raised her from a day old and she would let me pick her up and carry her around. Sadly I never thought to get a picture of them, they were certainly a nice pair of birds and they put the chicken liking bug in my little brain.

The following spring I bought 5 more chicks with two being Black Star hens. That fall I bought four leghorns and two bantams. Giving me the original six layers and two mothers that would start my poultry dynasty. I took out some old pictures and scanned them for the blog.

The original six layers, the black hen closest was Queenie, so called because she was the boss and would rule the house until the day there were no more chickens. She was my pet and a sort of replacement for Casandra my very first hen who died. Yes I know I'm a little obsessed with chickens but a lot really do have personalities (chickenalities????). Second in command was the other black star, I never gave her a name and a year later I sold her because she became a constant egg eater. Queenie was mostly black like Melda and the other looked a lot like Lucy, I think that is why I have a soft spot for my black girls that I have now, even though they are the biggest brats of the bunch.

My pretty leghorns, some had names but I forgot them now. Leghorns always get a bum rap with back yard flock owners, as if it was their own fault for being shoved into cages. I am in Canada with cold winters and they were super layers. They could run around and eat bugs as good as any chicken. They were a little more nervous when I first got them but as soon as they saw I meant no harm, I could soon pet them as well. I would later use them for cross breeding and their daughters were always some the best layers also. My problem was getting a good rooster to mate with the hens, so often it was more about getting a good functional bird and not about the actual breed. Oddly enough the leghorn cross roosters were the best tasting, they were smaller so it was a bit of work but they had great tasting meat. We never ate any hens however, even when they got old, people often bought a few just to have some chickens around.

My absolute favourite chicken of all time, even to this day, was the little bantam in the background. I called her Grannybanty as she was one of the older girls when I bought her. She is standing beside a hen she had just finished raising. The hen was from Queenie but I thought it was cute that she was raised by Grannybanty with such a size difference. She hatched five eggs for me at that time, all girls and all grew big like this hen. So small she could only cover four or five normal eggs but such a good mother that most chickens were raised by her. Sometimes she wanted to hatch three batches in one of our short summer seasons.

After raising the big girl above, I let her hatch a bunch of her own eggs. She had five little chipmunk coloured chicks, I flipped out when I saw the cute colour, I did not know there were chicks like this. Again this time I was lucky with only 1 rooster, so 9 hens and one bantam rooster out of ten eggs, I think she earned her keep that year. If anyone can take a guess at her breed, please feel free as I would certainly like to have more like her. She had white ears and laid small cream white eggs. I got her with a younger mate who was all black but had white ears and white eggs as well. I did not take a picture as it was not as good of a mother and always hatched rooster chicks. Like I said, she was so small that she could cover 5 normal eggs nicely but I did not want to take a chance as more may have been too much to keep warm.

Any way that was my first flock and I made a little pocket money selling eggs to my teachers and neighbours. I really enjoyed those years. I will share more older pics later.


John Gray jgsheffield@hotmail.com said...

some nice hens there!!!!
good photos! the leghorns are impressive!
as for turkeys..GET SOME!!!!!!!!!
brilliant birds!.....
I have never known anyone having major problems with stags (more likely with roosters!!!) so go for it!!!

Tracey said...

That was absolutely lovely! More please!! XXX

Bubble said...

more pics please!! what lovely chickens!

can't believe you ate that rooster though!!!!

Amy xxx

Chicken Boys said...

You are not alone in being obsessed. I love my chickens, too. Mike has been cross breeding them and hatching them in an incubator only to sell the babies at market. But it's fun nonetheless.

Amri said...

Your chicken history is a lot like mine! My first hens are meat birds! Fortunately most of them are still with us.

Christine said...

I love your old chicken photos! I have some around here as well. Can't remember all their names anymore though.

nobody-but-us-chickens said...

John: I really like the Royal Palm turkey and they are not too big but I read they are not an efficient turkey, I also like the bourbon reds. I would like to get a breed that would raise their own chicks.
Thanks for the comments about my old girls, I find the leghorns these days are not as pretty.

Tracey: Thank you and I will try.

Bubble: Amy, regarding the rooster, he was huge! At first I could not understand why my little buddy turned on me. He just kept getting bigger and mean, after having chunks taken out of my hands and legs, I knew either I eat him or he would eat me! O_O

Chicken Boys: It is fun, I think my favourite thing is to get my first eggs from a group I have raised, or to see daughters from a special hen.

Amri: The loss of my first hen was like the loss of any other pet to me. I was also going through those awkward years before highschool, being nuts about chickens did not help me fit in however, lol!

Christine: Thank you, I had to stop naming them when I had over twenty, there were just too many but I still could tell who laid which egg at that time. Oddly enough the girls I have today change the shape and colour of their eggs all the time. So I have no clue who lays which egg.