Sunday, March 8, 2009

On To My Feathered Friends

I have moved on from garden and chicken coop design. I have decided what food to grow, and have tentative plans on where to put it. My focus has shifted to actually deciding what kind of chickens to buy. There are so many breeds. It makes my head swirl. Do I go with bantams? Standards? There are standard white chickens. There are buff colored chickens. There are black chickens. There are Golden Laced Wyandottes and Blue Langshans and even a breed called Jersey Black Giants.

I wish there was a chicken consultant who functioned much like a wine merchant. I could tell this poultry genius I want chickens that are good layers. I would tell them what color eggs I would like to find in the hen house (blue or brown please), after some thought they would tell me what to buy. Alas, I’ve not found that person so I have to do my own detective work in books and online. I have settled, at least for now, on starting my small flock of four with two Silver Laced Wyandottes, and two of their cousins the Golden Laced Wyandottes. I chose these particular birds because, according to the McMurray Hatchery catalog, they are “an outstanding example of American poultry breeding”. Ok, I am lying. Different breeds of chicks, it seems, arrive at feed stores staring in March and can come as late as the end of April. Being the instant gratification type, I looked at the list from my favorite feed store to decide what day had the best chicken names and then found out what they looked liked. April 7, 2009 will be the day when we get to the feed store as early as possible for a better chance to get our pick of the Wyandotte chicks. The guy who gave us our list said that he hated chick season as people act insane around the procurement of poultry. I know Jenn is pushy enough to get us in and out with our little girls in record time. She takes no prisoners, and will be a force to be reckoned with on chick day.

We will have a month to get the coop ready after the babies come home. For their first thirty days they will live in what is called a brooder. Or, more simply put, they will set up housekeeping inside a cardboard ring that is 18 inches high and has a feeder and waterer along with some towels or newspapers (I am not yet sure which I will choose as there are varying schools of thought on which is better for the bottom of the enclosure) and a heat lamp hanging overhead to keep them at varying degrees of warmth depending on their age. Now, to figure out where to put the little buggers before we put them in their permanent home.

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