Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Only You.

We have chicken TV at the Jar.  Yes, you can sit and watch these doodlers all day if you like.  Pull up a chair, get a cold drink and watch the happenings.  We have drama, romance, intrigue and sometimes death.  Its all a part of normal life at the homestead.

If you sit long enough you will begin to notice that the hens all have distinct personalities and quirks that make them each unique.  Each has a place in chicken society. Regrettably, there are even cliques.

And, in the most interesting fashion each girl lays her own signature egg.  Clockwise from the top left; the brown bullet (a thin and pointy egg), the Wedgwood palest blue, the concrete with aggregate, the Maran speckled quailey egg. And by accident, the Olive Egger.

I had a plan to have pretty eggs. I have since lost track of that plan.  Now I am selecting chickens based on behavior and laying performance. The mix of different heritage breeds has now gone to hybrids and I will end up with a Landrace flock in the end.  The funniest part is the envy of the olive egg.  People all over farm social media sites are going crazy to raise their own olive eggers by crossing a brown egg layer with an Araucana that lays green eggs.  My olive eggs are second generation accidents. Most likely a cross of an Araucana with a Maran or Black Jersey Giant.

I am now focusing on certain traits such as rose combs, that do not seem to get so frost bitten in the winter.  This is a small and cosmetic trait, but is really about chicken health. It takes a lot of energy to heal from frostbite of the comb. Now I am selecting small combs with blood supplies compactly arranged and close to the skull.  Most of my large keeled comb roosters lost the tips of their combs in the winter weather.  The rose comb roosters often had no sign of frostbite.  So we have a winner in the process of farm animal selection. Less weather stress.  The rose comb tends to be broader and more spread out across the birds skull, so any summer cooling properties are hopefully retained.  No fancy birds here anymore, but now we look for good mommas, good scratchers, with a great body and survivor instinct.

Back to the eggs.  One of the more enjoyable parts of hen keeping is the eggs.  Each girl lays an egg like no other. In the process of collecting eggs, you get to see their identity in the nest box. 'ah there's my bullet girl today' or 'there's one with a knot on top like the tip of a straightened elbow' your girls have their own identity, and often it is a guess about whom produced what egg.  Only you my dear, only you.

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