Saturday, July 21, 2012

Where our Birds are From

I thought I would share with you were our ladies (and roosters) have all come from.  Here are their stories.

Our 8 lovely Rhode Island Reds all came from Coastal.  They were sold as pullets (even though I thought they were straight run - since I was just starting this).  We ended up with all of our wonderful laying ladies, just as we expected - with NO complaints on egg quality or hen temperament.  My only concern with buying them from a chain store is not knowing where the birds actually come from and what their living conditions are.  Are they shipped in from other states?  Are they picked off conveyor belts?  How are they handled overall?

When we started looking at adding new chickens this year we ended up going with several different options.  I'm going to let you know my pros and cons that I have discovered so far.

INCUBATED EGGS:  9 - Black Copper Marans and 5 - Easter Eggers.  We ended up working with a woman in Tillamook who ordered eggs and had them shipped to her.  She incubated them and sold them to us at a couple days old.  PROS:  chicks were handled with care and the lady seemed to really enjoy hatching them.  They were all out of one incubator and we ended up taking all that hatched.  Also working with someone on a small scale they know whats going on ... she was worried that one of the BCMs was not going to make it and through it in for free - she is doing fine!  CONS:  for the lady incubating them, she had a very low hatch rate (9 out of 24 and 5 out of 12 respectively).  Buying the chickens straight run - we ended up with 5 BCM roosters and 1 (or 2?) Easter Egger Roosters.

STORE BOUGHT:  4 - Easter Egger.  We got our 4 Easter Egger (sold as Aruacanas - however, they are not!) at a little Farm Store.  PROS:  they actually had close to what we were looking for (chain stores were back ordered).  All chickens were sociable and they had lots of variety to choose from.  CONS:  sold as pullets (which are 90% sexed) and we still ended up with a Rooster.  Selling chickens as a certain variety, however, they turned out to be something different.

THE HATCHERY WE RESEARCHED ONLINE:  5 - Cuckoo Marans.  I know this is not normal for all hatcheries.  We did our research and thought we had found a legitimate hatchery.  When we pulled up it was some guys house and they were keeping their chicks in tubs in the garage.  GRRR.  I stayed in the truck as the husband ventured past the broke down cars to buy our chicks (he really wanted Cuckoo, and we had drove 1 1/2 hours to get them - or I would have just drove away)  PRO:  you can't get Cuckoo Marans at a Farm Store or Chain Store (its not a variety they carry).  CONS:  sold as sexed pullets, however we still ended up with 2 Roosters.  Chickens were being mass hatched and kept in tubs with not much room.  Paid in cash and seller had no change on site.  These chickens seem to have more health issues than the rest of our ladies (broken toe, blocked vents that we need to continually watch, etc).

So, my conclusion is that if you want a rare variety of chicken then I would find someone that will incubate eggs for you (even though you have to possibly deal with roosters ... but we traded a lot of ours!)  If you want a standard breed I think that your local chain or farm store an fine options.  I would stay away from HATCHERIES (or do way more research than we did).

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Goodbye to the Cuckoo Marans Cockerels and Hello to our first Marans Egg!!!

I usually don't really like Mondays ... back to work and the real world after a weekend off.  However, this Monday did bring a positive in our lives ... we managed to get rid of the two (MEAN) Cuckoo Marans Cockerels.  A big THANK YOU to Farmer John for taking them off our hands!

As the week progressed nothing was really happening at the "farm" until I came home from work today (Thursday) and saw what my husband had found in the coop.  I was extremely jealous ... I have been checking multiple times a day for about a week now ... hoping and wishing that our new ladies would start laying earlier than I had expected.  Then today at 18 1/2 weeks old one of the Marans laid their first egg!  I'm not sure if it was a Cuckoo Marans or a French Black Copper Marans, however, I am leaning towards the FBCM do to having a friend who bought hers the same week that we got our and hers laid its first egg today!!!

Our first Marans egg ... in with our Rhode Island Eggs collected today!

Look at how small the first egg is out of a chicken ... I can't believe that it is just short of a year ago we got our very first egg ever from the Rhode Island Reds.  Now look at the comparison between the two ... the new, tiny extremely dark speckled egg belongs to the Marans ... the other are the Rhode Island Reds after laying about a year. 

I hope everyone had a wonderful day and week, we are anxiously awaiting for more eggs from our ladies.  We will keep you posted!!!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

I thought is was suppose to be MEAN girls ... not around here.

I'm going to start this week off by saying that I dislike our Cuckoo Marans Roosters.  Of the roosters we currently have they are the meanest.  They are mean to not only the other roosters but they are also extremely rough on our young hens.  With that being said I really need to find them a home with no other roosters and probably older hens that will put them in their places.  If they don't go live somewhere soon I am actually getting to the point where I am ok with them becoming dinner (I never thought that I would be ok with it ... however, the way they have been acting this week they need to go - one way or the other!). 

Meanie - aka soon to be "dinner"


The other Cuckoo Rooster

As for other happenings around the "farm" three more of our questionables actually started to crow (the second Cuckoo Marans and two Easter Eggers - which I had suspected where all boys so not a huge surprise).  I am pretty sure that we are down to one questionable chicken (Todd thinks its a rooster but I am not convinced - its the Easter Egger that we have sleeping in the dog crate since it can't get along with either of my flocks).

So, at this time we have decided to keep the 2 French Black Copper Marans Roosters (Echo and Zeek photographed in a previous post) and we are going to hold on to 2 of the Easter Egger Roosters at this time.  Let me introduce you to Charlie and Copper:

This is Charlie.

Charlie stared crowing this week.

This is Copper.

Copper started crowing this week also.


I also managed to do some bartering this week ... hazelnuts for eggs!!!  I plan on using the hazelnut to make Hazelnut Extract (which I have going), trying to make homemade Nutella, and will have to have Hazelnut Chicken at least a few times!!!  I managed also to use eggs as a tip for our hairdresser for my sons haircut (she was thrilled and I had extras).

Some of the hazelnuts that we traded for and that are in the extract.
My kitchen has been extremely busy (even with the warm weather) ... this week I made 2 loaves of White Bread (Todd and Easton's favorite), 4 1/2 dozen Triple Chip Cookies, and a Triple Berry Cornmeal Cake (the recipe was from over at www.onehundreddollarsamonth.com).  I also bottled the lemon and cinnamon extracts and started new batches of Vanilla, Orange, and Cinnamon Extracts (along with the Hazelnut).

Friday, July 6, 2012

We have MORE boys!

The Rooster that needs a new home.
So ... we found out this week that 2 of our Cuckoo Marans are boys and not girls.  I have thought this for a little over a month now ... however, my husband was in deep denial (I don't know how many times he told me this last month ... "but we bought them sexed" and "how can 2 out of 5 be boys")!  Well, its hard to deny once you hear one crow.  Now I need to find a new home for at least one of them.  This is the one that we put on craigslist ... so hopefully we will have a taker soon!  We haven't decided what we are going to do with the second one ... at this point though we have already decided to keep the 2 French Black Copper Marans Roosters (Echo and Zeek) so I'm not sure there is really room for another rooster (and I still have that Easter Egger that I am suspicious about).  What really surprises me is the Cuckoo Marans size.  He is a lot bigger than the BCM Roosters and they are the same age.

So our overall confirmed count from our 23 babies this year is 7 Roosters (5 BCMs and 2 Cuckoo Marans), 7 Hens (4 BCMs and 3 Cuckoo Marans), and the 9 Easter Eggers (which I think at least one is a little boy).

Another view of him.

He's a big boy!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Guess Whats FINALLY Done!!!

 I know with a title like that the people who know me are expecting it to be my 1967 bathroom remodel ... and at that I laugh histarically!!!  So, no not my bathroom ... but my vanilla extract has been waiting for 6 weeks.  This week is the week I finally got to try it, bottle it, and but labels on it.  I also bottled my mint extract (it had been around for about 4 weeks and the other blogs I have read said that when the mint starts to turn brown you should pull it).  I decided to bottle in both 2 oz and 4 oz sizes.  Here are some photos of what it turned up looking like:

Vanilla Extract

Mint Extract
We have managed to sell 2 of our bottles of Vanilla Extract (priced at 2 oz for $5, and 4 oz for $8) over the weekend which makes me want to try other flavors if there is a demand.  We also managed to trade a 4 oz bottle of each Vanilla and Mint to our friends for Tomato Plants (since we didn't do a garden this year my husband was excited to have a few plants) and a Tomatillo Plant (which I have never used ... but our friends said I could make a green salsa out of it - will need to do some recipe search when we get some!)  I also managed to picked up the dried oregano that I had bartered eggs for last month!

On to the chickens ... not much has changed in our chicken world this week.  Our year old Rhode Island Reds are giving us 5 - 7 eggs a day on average so we have plenty to eat and bake with.  As for our new ladies we are just waiting till August for eggs from them.  The two French Black Copper Marans Roosters did get names this week.  The more dominate one my husband named "Echo" and the other is going to be called "Zeek".  Its nice to go out there and have names to call them ... the rest of the flock might end up getting named after all :)

This is Echo.

The back side of Echo

An Easter Egger


Another Easter Egger (who I wonder if it is actually a boy?)

This is Zeek

Another one of Zeek
Well, thats this weeks update from our little "farm" ... I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful 4th of July (not sure what we are doing yet ... but I might post about it next week!)