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Friday, October 28, 2011

Kinder, gentler Chicken Math

Some of you may be wondering, where was the Chicken Math this year? Yes, my friends, there has been an inexcusable absence of Chicken Math. The spring was fraught with family emergencies of one type or another, leaving us with little time for, well, anything, let alone new chicken acquisition. I ended up picking up a couple of chicks here and there. You may remember, in April I got a few Blue Copper Marans chicks, they have grown into gorgeous hens and are just starting to lay eggs.

I also got a couple of Welsummers at the time I purchased the Marans.

During the summer I got 6 Black Sex-Link pullets that were a few months old and just at the age to start laying from Wesley Acres.


My friend, Chanin, Chicken Mathed me into some Orpington chicks back in April that are all grown up now too.
She gave me some Blue splash Orps. Can you tell this girl has an attitude?

As well as a few Buff / Blue Orpington crosses. They turned out kind of cool, except....

As often happens in Chicken Math situations, it became apparent as the chicks grew, that one was a rooster.

So he now hangs with Rooster Cogburn and Mr. Swagger.

With only a handful of new fowl friends added to the flock this spring, and an aging population of retired hens in my flock, my egg production was down significantly and my market customers were clamoring for eggs. I had to do something.
I normally keep all of my old girls forever, but with the large flock that I have, and so many older hens no longer laying ( but still happily gobbling up feed...a lot of feed ) I made the decision to find a new home for some of the old granny chickens. There was a problem though, I would only give them away to someone who would keep them forever - I didn't want anyone eating my girls! 

Who would be willing to take a bunch of old chickens? This was probably going to take some time.

 In talking to one of my Farmers' Market friends, I was able to find just the person to take them. Linda, from Tuftee's Garden. I discovered that she LOVES the old hens and would be happy to take a few to live out their lives on her farm. She told me I could bring 10, but in the end I could only part with six of them. The six that I chose were all between 5-6 years old and hadn't laid an egg in....well...a long, long time. 

 Marie and I brought the chickens out to Linda's lovely place, and they settled right in. They have a large barn, surrounded by greenhouses, with an outdoor run. They will be allowed to roam outside on the property during times when there is someone at home to keep an eye on them.

Marie and I were just getting ready to leave, when Linda was silly enough to mention that, since it was the end of the season, we should take some plants home with us. The greenhouse was closed until spring and most of the plants would not winter- over, so they had to go. She had no idea what she was saying. I thought she knew Marie better than that.

Within seconds, a pile of plants began to form at Marie's feet.
I'm not gonna lie, I got a few plants too, but my dear sister Marie is just as addicted to plants as she is to shiny things. There was a lot of conversation like, "Oh, noooo, Linda, I couldn't possibly take one of these......I shouldn't..............they are really pretty though... Ok, maybe just one then."
And then, this traveling greenhouse happened in the back of my truck. These are just the hanging baskets, the small plants are hidden in the back. Plant Math.

Good thing this bad boy was anchored down, or I'd have been hauling that home too!

The old hens were settled into their nice new retirement village, so we headed home with The Little Shop of Horrors going on in the back of my truck. But I still hadn't solved the problem of needing younger laying hens.

 I decided that I should order some chicks soon, so that they would start laying eggs by spring.
If you've read this blog, you know how I love to get chicks from SandHill Preservation, but since they don't sex their chicks, and they always send a  lot of extras....a lot of extras, I really, really wasn't prepared for full-on Chicken Math going into winter. I opted instead to place an order for ALL PULLETS, of good egg production lines, from Murray McMurray . My friend Cassie, from Farm Genevieve wanted a few too, so we were going to split the order. 

I was ordering 25 chicks, and Cassie wanted 10. I placed the order for 15 Black Stars ( 10 for me, 5 for Cassie) 15 Easter-Eggers ( 10 for me 5 for Cassie) and 5 Red Stars for me, 35 chicks in all. McMurray has a box on their order form that you can check to receive a "Free rare breed chick", I always make sure that box is UNchecked because, with my luck, the free chick is certain to be a rooster. The order for the 35 chicks was to be shipped on Tuesday or Wednesday of last week. 

The Murray McMurray hatchery is only about 3 and a half hours from here, so the chicks usually arrive at the Illinois postal sorting- station,  about a 30 minute drive from here, the same evening that they ship. I left a notation on my order for the sorting station to call as soon as the chicks arrive, and I would pick them up to minimize the number of transfers that the little chickies would have to go through. I also called the sorting station personally with a reminder in the event that they didn't get my original message on the order form. Why does that surprise you? You know how I am. 

I didn't receive a call on Tuesday evening, so I assumed that they must be going to ship out on Wednesday. No call came on Wednesday, so I called the hatchery and was told that, yes, they would have been shipped out on Tuesday or Wednesday, and that I should receive them soon.. I called the sorting station..again...."Yes, ma'am, we have your note right here, we'll call when they come in." 
Thursday came, and still no chicks. OK, I could have driven to the hatchery and back 12 times by now.....where were they? Thursday night I called again...." YES, WE HAVE YOU MESSAGE!"  I am 100% certain that by this point I had been placed on several governmental watch lists, but I didn't care. Where were they? Friday morning around seven, the phone rang, I heard a chorus of peeping in the background. "This is the Davenport post office, we have your chicks, do you want to come pick them up, or do you want us to send them out with your carrier?" Well, duh.
I am not sure why the sorting station didn't call, or why they went ahead and sent them on to the Davenport post office....maybe they were too busy assembling a security team in case the Crazy Chicken Lady showed up.
In any case, I got to the post office in about 15 minutes to find that all of the chicks were healthy and fine. Whew!
As soon as I got them home I pulled each one out of the box, dipped their beaks in the water to get them drinking, and counted them. 35, 36, 37....wait. 38.....39, 40?????

So, apparently Murray is somewhat versed in kinder, gentler Chicken Math. We only  had 5 extras. When Cassie came to pick up her 10 chicks, I was gracious enough  to allow her take 3 of the mystery chicks. ...that was all I could talk her into. One that Cassie took appears to be a Phoenix.

One of the extras that I kept, I later discovered, is an Egyptian Fayoumis, which, sadly, as adults are not quite as attractive as the artist's rendition on the hatchery website would lead you to believe.


....Drawing on the website......
Aaaaand, the frightening reality....YIKES!

The other extras appear to be more of the same breeds that we originally ordered.
Here are some photos of the cuteness.

" Should we make a break for it? I heard the people at the post office say that this lady is a little CRAA-ZY."

7 comments:

Michelle said...

Oh-oh-oh; so MANY pretty hens and chicks! I have a Welsummer who has never been a great layer; would love to hear how the Maran compares. Black Sex-links are on my "future acquisitions" list, and someday, I'm also going to get some "blue" breed; maybe blue-laced red Wyandottes....

janna Edrington said...

Ha, ha, ha!!!! Corinne, you and Marie are dangerous!

Karen Anne said...

Someone else as crazy as I am. That's called contingency planning :-)

I think the Egyptian Fayoumis look just like the drawing, and quite attractive.

Brazy Creek Farm (Brad and Susy) said...

Beautiful Birds Corinne, All of them!

Becky said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE baby chicks. Luckily for my husband, we only have room in the coop for so many.. unless they start to shack up with the llamas and sheep next year, then I might get more. ;)

Teresa said...

Your chicken math really sounds pretty good this year. I had to order chicks after raccoon attacks this summer, and they came all the way from Texas and got here (central IA) faster than yours made it to you. Glad they are doing well. It's nice you found someone to take your old ladies!

Rose H (UK) said...

I'm so pleased your more mature ladies found a lovely retirement home to live out their lives! I'm SO jealous of all those gorgeous chicks, I'd love some but sadly in our small garden I just don't have the space for them.

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