We started our chicken adventure in the spring of 2013. We bought six chicks, each member of the family picking out and naming their own. My husband and I tried reasoning with Alaina, the oldest. The scrawny little chick she picked out probably wouldn’t even make the truck ride home, we tried telling her. It almost looked sick it was so frail; it couldn’t even pick up its little ugly bird head. It kind of just laid there while the other five chirped and peeped and bounced around. She named it Charlie. We should have seen the signs….
We raised those chicks until they were five laying hens and one mean-ass rooster, Charlie, a.k.a. Charles Manson. Leave it to my oldest to choose the one rooster out of the ten large metal watering troughs full of pullets. Three of the hens met an early demise by a predator while we were still learning the ways of raising chickens. Charles Manson met six .22 caliber bullets and two triple ought 12-gauge rounds after he attacked our youngest daughter. I know I’m going to attract some backlash from this statement, but this little asshole wasn’t nick-named Charles Manson for nothing. He was mean. He wasn’t just protecting his hens, he would go after us. I could be in the side yard, and we would lock eyes some 50 meters away, and he would charge! After said attack of my two year old, my husband shot him. Several times. The bastard wouldn’t die, and my husband had to go back for the shotgun.
We adopted ten more hens from a local rural family. We lost one due to a sickness, two to a predator, and one when some jackass teenager decided that it would be funny to stick one of our chickens in a neighbor’s mailbox. If my chicken or the sweet little old lady two houses down weren’t involved, I would’ve thought the whole thing was freaking hilarious. She got quite a scare, however, received a nasty gram from the post office for chicken shit and an egg in her mailbox, and we were out our best layer. A coworker decided that he was going to downsize his flock, so we adopted three more hens (one of which is a worthless fat body, much to our regret). Last year, I started hearing rumors of an “Easter Egger” that laid green and blue eggs, and of course I wanted one. So, March of 2014, we bought eight more chicks.
Hens stop laying anywhere from a year to four, and if we want to (a) keep getting eggs and (b) have enough room/food for the layers, we will have to get rid of some eventually. Such is the life of a chicken raiser… raise the hens until they stop giving you eggs, then humanely slaughter them for food for the family. Killing the rooster was easy (for my husband); he had attacked our baby. Killing a hen that follows you around like a baby? That is a different story. I tried getting my daughter to sit out in the coop for a couple of days with a can of spray paint. I told her that if she sees a hen lay an egg, give her a quick mist of color. By the end of day two, whoever isn’t painted gets the chopping block. Alaina wasn’t too keen on my plan, though, and your freaking crazy if you think I would spend two days in the coop. Bleh.
We have a very eclectic bunch. All 19 of our hens have their own little unique personalities and laying qualities. I guess that is another reason why I can’t bring myself to slaughter the non-layers. So, with all due respect (and fingers crossed that I am not jinxing their lives), I introduce the girls….
Pocahontas is an Americana, and lays green/blue eggs. She was named such by her beautiful brown color and the markings around her eyes. She almost looks like she could be wearing eyeliner.
Peep is a “made hen” and has been around since the beginning. She is a Buff Orpington, is a great layer of light brown eggs.
Count Chocula is a Rhode Island Red and lays dark brown eggs. She was named as such by her chocolate colored feathers. Great layer!!
Blue is an Americana and, can you guess?? She lays the most beautiful light blue eggs.
Fudge is also a Rhode Island Red and again, named as such by the color of her feathers.
Oreo is a Plymouth Rock Barred, or Barred Rock, and is a very cool-looking black and white checked hen, who lays tan eggs.
Mary Kate is a Buff Orpington, lays light brown eggs, and hasn’t been whole since her sister Ashley was KIA.
Clever is a Brahma and is my son’s hen. We told Jameson that this was a very special chicken and he needed to come up with a clever name for her, since she was the only one of her type in our flock. “What’s more clever than Clever?” he said. She is a sweet bird, but dislikes laying where the other hens do. She chooses to lay her brown eggs on the floor of the coop.
Hawkeye is another Americana, laying blue/green eggs. Like Pocahontas she has got some really cool eye markings that make her look like a hawk.
Kit-Kat is a Buff Sussex, and lays light brown eggs. Do you sense a theme with sweets-named chickens? Yeah, I did too….
Derp is an Americana and lays taupe-tinted white eggs. Don’t ask me why Alaina calls her Derp. I don’t even know what the hell a ‘Derp’ is. But, that’s her name.
Tiffany is maybe a special breed of Silver Wyandotte, or maybe an Americana, we can’t tell. Whatever she is, she has greyish-blue underneath feathers and was named after my step-brother’s wife’s favorite store. The hen is kind of stuck up too.
Mama June. Sigh. Mama June is an utter disappointment. Roaster was our Leghorn who was shoved into the neighbor’s mailbox, and was our best layer. She would lay extra-large white eggs, which was surprising because she was the smallest hen of the bunch. When we got Mama June, we were excited to see what she could produce because she was an extra-large hen which we assumed would lay extra-extra-large eggs. But, like I said, Mama June is an embarrassment and we haven’t had a white egg laid since Roaster was chicken-napped. She can’t even fit her fat ass through the doggie door in the edge of the coop! All she does is eat. When the rest of the hens are free-ranging, picking bugs and worms out of the grass all around the five acres, Mama June just lays around in the coop, her beak in the feed bowl. She probably should be the first to go….
Chrome is a Silver Wyandotte and lays tan eggs. It is amazing to see something in nature with such gorgeous patterns in black, silver and white.
Bellina the Second is a Rhode Island Red, and was named after the first Bellina who was my chicken, and whose life was tragically snatched away by a vicious Opossum. We know it was an opossum because only Bellina’s poor little face was ripped off. Murderous rodent. <glaring>
Storm is a Silver Wyandotte and lays tan eggs. She is beautiful with black, white and silver in feathers.
Reese is a Sicilian Buttercup and lays tan eggs. Again, she doesn’t necessarily look like a candy, but I think my kids were on a roll.
Aunt Jemima is a Plymouth Barred Rock and is the oldest hen of the bunch. You can sense her annoyance and disdain of the other hens from time to time. You can almost hear her squawking at the other girls to “get out of my way”. She should probably go….
Until the next time, in Adventures in Chicken Land….