Monday, August 15, 2016

The Bird Herd 2016

As usual, we have seen baby chicks since early spring; probably at least 6 different broods this year, including one hen that hatched out a single chick--they still hang out together; too cute.  The youngest group is just now coming into their adult feathers; this is my favorite part (except fuzzy baby chicks, of course).  We are finally getting a glimpse of what they are going to look like & I'm really happy with the new colors & combinations this year : ) 

Currently, our flock is all bantams ranging in color from red to black, with a few white & buff hens.  Also a grey frizzle roo, & a couple black frizz hens.  Black is definitely dominant, but we did get some interesting feather patterns this year.  I love this gray-ish little hen with the hints of red.  Also, lots of black with tips of red or white.

I think my favorite is the runty little hen (I think).  She has reddish feathers with black accents; definitely from our golden Seabright roo...  She is tiny compared to everyone else & seems to be very curious; I'm hoping she might turn into a people chicken like our favorite hen "Gold Chicken"  who love to come in the house & hang around & get pets.   It's hard to tell, though as we let the hens hatch & take care of the chicks with little interference on our part.

It looks like our hen to roo ratio is good this year; definitely a few roos in the mix, but mostly hens.  Yay for them; it means they get to stay & bounce around the yard all day eating bugs & getting spoiled.  Unfortunately for the roos, we can only keep 1 or 2; more than that & it's too hard on the hens & us; they are pretty pesky with the constant crowing & fighting over the hens.  Sooo, starting tonight when they roost up, we will start separating the roosters into their own run away from the hens & our bedroom window.  They will get lots of feed & water & treats until this fall when they will all go to "freezer camp" along with a few hens that were way to aggressive with the baby chicks.

We usually take them late in October for processing, along with any turkeys or ducks (none this year).  Fills our freezer with clean, organic meat for the next year.  It may take quite a few birds to make soup (they usually weigh in around 1 pound, maybe less), but at least we know they had a happy life & aren't full of antibiotics & sodium.  The remaining hens provide eggs pretty much all year--they do stop laying in winter if it get's really cold.  

At the moment, we still have a lone male turkey & lone female duck.  The ducky will probably be given away: we don't really care for the stronger taste of duck eggs or duck meat, so it seems a bit pointless to keep feeding her all year just as a lawn ornament.  The turk, however will stay; he is very friendly & we would like to have baby turkeys in the spring, so are searching for a lady friend for him.  Full grown heritage turkeys are bit hard to find, but hoping to find one soon. 

I love having the birds around; they are fun to watch out in the pasture & they eat bugs.  They do get into mischief too; turkey loves to see if he can sneak into the shop when I'm not looking & the chickens occasionally make pests of themselves in the garden...  But it's all in good fun.  And they provide us with eggs for breakfast : )