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BErKaNa: Growth. Rebirth. Birch Tree.

small, beautiful things

January 18th, 2010

For posterity: Chicken comings and goings @ 05:25 pm

Emotions: accomplished accomplished

Oh lo, once upon a time, about 4.5 yrs ago, we were gifted with two wee peeps. We loved them, and raised them and named them Mercy and Percy Searcy (N's last name). They grew into a beautiful white hen (Leghorn) and gorgeous black rooster (oops! an Australorp). But none in the neighborhood had ruffled feathers (ahem) about the virile crowing, in fact, many loved him. Theirs was quite a tender love affair. And so we lived.

Then, about six months into our adventures, Mercy died, very suddenly, never to have even laid an egg. Percy was forlorn, nay, devastated. He looked and looked for his mate, and eventually grew mean. Of course, his hormones were comin' on, so that might have happened anyhow, but I think Mercy tempered him. Only a chicken psychologist could tell. We gave Mercy a nice funeral.

But, I digress.

We then searched for some female companionship for our sad boy, and happened upon a trio of likely sorts -- T.C, Tilly & Twyla -- a mother and her two daughters, a Buff Orpington and Barred Rock mixes, respectively. And, all was well, except for the rather rough nature of Percy in his pursuit of er, happiness, and fertility.

We got a new neighbor, and annoyance ensued. Percy was rehomed, which in hindsight, was a good thing as I was about to have Maeve in a month or two, and benefited from the crowless sleep. In my hormonal state, however, it was TREASON.

The girls seemed to miss their paramour quite a bit, however, until their feathers grew back in, and they became accustomed to an easier lifestyle.

About 8 months ago, I found T.C. (named Tough Chick for surviving not one, but two coyote raids, but we usually just called her "Mama") dead under the avo, of some chickeny natural causes, no foul play evident. Twyla was standing over her, keening. We buried her next to Mercy.

Twyla, soon after, twisted her foot in a odd manner, laming her for life. Tilly became the boss of the two, and has dealt much better with the death of her mother, though both stopped laying eggs for many many months after T.C. died.

After many eggless months, it seems (when you get fresh eggs all the time, even a week without them seems like yonks!), we decided to get a few peeps to raise -- fun for the whole family! Not wanting to go down the rooster route again, as new grumpy neighbor remained a putz, we got three Golden Sex-links -- in other words, three nearly guaranteed hens. Maeve named them Maisy, Tallulah and Charlie, after some favorite book characters. Charlie was soon the fave, with a docile, petable personality, while the other two were just...feisty and chickeny.

Flash forward three months, and we integrate the girls (soon I will be using the term loosely) into our existing flock, slowly, but surely. All goes well. Until day three, when we were delayed in getting home to get everyone in the coop -- and a raccoon took Charlie out. Much sadness ensued, though we told Maeve that Charlie flew away, because no way could she be part of that funeral. Nathan buried Charlie next to T.C. and Mercy. (Seriously, don't mess with us, because we got some voodoo chickeny graveyard going in our backyard now.)

Not content with the four, it seemed like a good idea to pick up three more girls, giving us a nice number of eggs during laying time, considering that Twyla will probably never lay again. So, over the New Year holiday, we picked up Betsy (a golden Brahma), Rexie (a Turken) and Steve (a speckled Sussex), again, named by Ms. Maeve. I believe "Steve" is short for "Stephanie," at least that is what I have accepted as truth.

Pecking order worked its way out, and all was rather fabulous on the suburban farm. That is, until about a week later, when Maisy started to throw down with Tallulah (now, we'd seen this before, but in chicks it is way cute, and we just thought they were trying out their pullety dominance). Problem was, these throwdowns were accompanied by...crowing. Dammit. In a wee panick that 1. our kid was gonna be a bit heartbroken losing her favorite handraised chick to a random flying away and 2. heartbroken again by having to rehome the other two because they were BOYS, we packed up the roosters, took them to our godsend in Oxnard, The Trading Post, bid our adieus, and drove straight back up to Wachter's in Ojai to replace them with *certain* pullets. *CERTAIN* I tell you. Because, you know, at the age these ladies were, all is known. (Side note: Maisy and Tallulah were not Golden Sex-links, but pure Rhode Island Reds, and when I called American Hay and Grain to complain, the woman said, "Oh, well, yeah, I did mix in another batch of chicks with the sex-links." Thanks for nothing, lady. Nice disclosure ahead of time. No more business from us, that's for sure.) Meanwhile, we're getting a helluva education, which, hey, isn't all bad.

Enter the picture our gorgeous light Brahma Patty, buff Brahma LaVerne, and sweet black Turken Maxene. Again with the pecking order last weekend, but they sorted it all so well and quickly, that I was stoked. Obviously, rooting out those two persnickety trouble-making roosters made for much more of a henlike nirvana.


Let it be said now, that you should never tempt fate by purchasing chickens during Mercury Retrograde, and doubly, should never make her even more amused by naming a chicken "Patty." Because...a week later, just two days ago, Patty crowed. Even more exciting than his lame attempt at boyishness was the fact that BETSY, oh yes, the pullet from New Years', broke out her, er, his kung fu fighting techniques and the two of them have been periodically matching off.


I really loved Patty.

Today, Patty has made his way to the Trading Post -- but not before getting it on with Twyla, or at least practicing a bit, with her consent. An odd match to be sure, but you know, it had a Mrs. Robinson flare to it, and you can never go wrong learning the ropes with an older woman.

Betsy has yet to crow, but we know it's coming. Until then, we'll feed her/him and enjoy the antics. I'm also keeping an eye on LaVerne, but thus far, she seems much more henlike despite her size. I do still want to have eight in the flock, and I know all my friends think I'm a nutjob. However, I'm determined that we'll be successful in really, really having all girls. Really.

I'm looking into other cool breeds that may mature faster than the Brahmas. You know, normal chickens. :)

For some reason, I was just compelled to get all their names down as they have been flying in and out of here (ar ar) with some rapidity. Some day, this may make a good story. :)
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BErKaNa: Growth. Rebirth. Birch Tree.

small, beautiful things