Farm Fresh Easter Eggs

Just in time for Easter, our little Miss Cleo has decided to lay us some colored eggs! We were so excited, partly because she laid an egg, and partly because we weren't really sure she was actually going to lay eggs. We had white ones from Babs and Betty (our Leghorns), and brown eggs from Matilda (our Wyandott), but no green/blue eggs from Miss Cleo.

Rewind a few months...

Back when the girls were little fuzz balls, we started to see that they had their own personalities. As they got bigger and moved into their coop, it was clear which of the chickens had emerged as the leader of the pack. It was definitely Miss Cleo. She flapped and pecked at the other chicks letting them know who was boss.

And then the chicks started to lay eggs.

At first, we only saw white ones, which surprised us considering the Leghorns seemed to be too ditzy to know which end the egg should come out, but there you go. Then we saw some brown eggs from the Wyandott. Every morning, we kept expecting to go in and find some green/blue eggs in their bed of hay... but nothing.

Miss Cleo seemed to be depressed about this, too. Her little chicken head was hanging a little lower and Matilda started to challenge her more. We all felt bad for Miss Cleo, so we gave her some extra love, carrying her around and petting her. She eventually came out of her slump and began hen-pecking the rest of the chickens as she had before. But still, no eggs.

One day, on the Twitterz, I was chatting with a friend about the lack of laying from Miss Cleo. He mentioned that he had heard some chickens will take on the role of the rooster if there isn't one in the coop.

Miss Cleo thought she was a rooster!

That was sort of funny, except that the whole reason I got the Ameraucans was that I wanted those colored "Easter" eggs. And since the only other Ameraucan I got had sadly passed in the heat wave last fall, Miss Cleo was my only chance of getting any colored eggs.

Then, at dinner a couple of weeks ago, I remembered that my son had a stuffed animal that was a rooster. It even crowed! I must have had one too many beers because I started laughing to myself and suggested that maybe we could trick Miss Cleo into thinking the stuffed rooster was real. We all laughed about it, picturing an egg dropping out of Miss Cleo at the sight of him.

The next morning, my son introduced Rocky the Rooster to the girls.

Rocky the Rooster.jpg

The response was HILARIOUS! Miss Cleo went absolutely nuts. BAT. SHIT. CRAZY! She started bok-boking and flying all around the coop. It was as if a fox had snuck into the hen house. She was flying around in circles so fast, we thought she might pass out from being dizzy. After a few spins around the hen house, she bolted out the door like a bat out of hell! It was quite a sight watching her run all over the yard, freaking out, flapping her wings. We could not stop laughing!

We left Rocky in the coop for about a week, just to see what would happen.

About a week ago, my son, The Chicken Whisperer found a reddish brown feather. It was unmistakably Cleo's. She was molting. "She's getting ready!!!" My son's eyes were bright with delight. I was still doubtful... and bitter that we weren't going to have any Easter eggs for Easter.

Four mornings ago, I was proven wrong.

Easter Egg.jpg

Congratulations, Miss Cleo!

Baby Chicks for Farmer Jones

We decided that it would be cool to have farm fresh eggs at home. Not the kind you buy at the store that say "Farm Fresh" but actually fresh from our very own yard. Apparently, I'm not the only one. Recently, there has been a run on chickens in San Diego. The country feed store near our home in The Boonies sells out of them as soon as they put a sign up announcing Laying Hens. They didn't have any when I went by there a couple of weeks back. They did, however, have a ton of baby chicks.

So I decided to bring a bunch home. Six, to be exact.

Here's one on her first day home:

[caption id="attachment_1309" align="aligncenter" width="560"] Miss Cleo[/caption]

Chicken Breeds

You would not believe how many kinds of chickens there are. Thankfully, the Country Feed Store only had three breeds of baby chicks, so that made the picking easy. They did have one of the breeds I wanted, which was the Ameraucan. Our neighbors have those and they have the prettiest goldish brown feathers. they also lay blue-green eggs. I pretty much wanted them so that I can serve Green Eggs & Ham for breakfast.

Would you like them in a box? Would you like them with a fox?

Beside the Ameraucan, they had White Leghorns and Wyndott. The Wyndotts will grow to be black and white speckled and will lay brown eggs. The White Leghorn is the white chicken you see in old Americana posters. Nothing fancy, but kinda cool.

Nesting

We bought a cage for them that they will outgrow in about a month. That gives us a little time to flatten out a spot out in the yard and build a coop and chicken run. We also had to buy hay. Do you know how many different kinds of hay there are? I won't bore you. Just know that if you raise baby chicks, go with the Bermuda hay. We made sure to buy a heat lamp for times when the temperature dips below 65 degrees. We used that for about a week before the heat wave hit. Better safe than sorry, right?

Eating and Pooping

Chicken also like to crap where they eat, so feeders have to hang from the top of the cage in order to avoid such behavior. Unfortunately, I didn't think they'd do that to their water feeder, but they did. I clean that out a few times a day. I found a water dispenser for the chicken coop, so I won't have to do that anymore. When they're not pooping in their water, they're just dropping it right where they are, so we have to clean out the little cage once a week. I use the hay and poopies in my compost.

Dirty birdies.

Right now, they're pretty much being babies. They're just eating, pooping, and sleeping. They start off with mostly fuzz and a few tiny feathers, but they're going to grow very quickly, and their feathers are getting longer. Every day that we watch them running around, pecking for food, and hopping around each other, we can see how fast they are growing. I'm glad I got some video of their first few days home. Wanna see?

Watch this video:

Friends that also have chickens have told me that they have got some serious personalities. They were right. I've been watching them for the last few weeks trying to decide what names I should give them. I've named Miss Cleo (above) and three more of the six chicks. The final two, the Wyndotts are rather bitchy. They stay to themselves most times and do NOT like to be held. I need to come up with some good farm names that hints at that personality.

Any suggestions?