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Monday, September 27, 2010

Chicken Scrapbook

Just six months ago, we received a peeping box from our postal carrier (the stork is just a myth folks, it's the mailman who brings babies!) Inside were six little balls of fuzzy cuteness. Unfortunately we lost one of the little Welsummers, but the rest of the girls were strong and healthy and have become a cherished part of our family. They follow us around when we are outside, prefer to eat scratch from our palms instead of on the ground, and look forward to their favorite treats- apple cores and carrot peelings. They all have their own personalities. Salt, our Barred Plymouth rock, is a bully. Pepper, same breed, is her henchman. They must think because they were the first to lay eggs, that they rule the roost. Red, our Welsummer, is the trouble maker, she likes to peck our bare feet, jump up on the trampoline, and chase the cats. Chipmunk, our Easter-Egger is sweet, friendly, and minds her own business and lays the beautiful green eggs. Chilly, our Blue Cochin, is shy and a bit of loner, Salt chases her, but she's our favorite. She has beautiful poufs of green-black feathers and makes us laugh when she runs. Here's a little photo spread of the girls when we first got them, and what they look like today.
After a long internet search, I finally stumbled across My Pet Chicken, the only online supplier I found at the time that would ship small numbers of chicks. I didn't want to just go down to the local feed store and pick random birds without knowing what they were. We wanted birds that were friendly, hardy, and interesting looking. After some research and comparison of breeds, I was able to narrow down a list of birds that would suit our needs. I placed my order and we (im)patiently waited for our little package to arrive, and just a few days after Easter, it did!
We were so excited when the package arrived. The brooder box that we had set up had been ready for about a week before they arrived. Inside the little box was a nest with a little heating pad, and our chicks were all huddled inside. We immediately put them in their new home, and they went straight to their food water and then hunkered down under the heat lamp for a good nap.
We only ordered 4 babies originally, one of each breed. We ended up with an extra Barred Plymoth Rock and an extra Welsummer, because there is a minimum number of birds that can be shipped and this ensures that the chicks stay warm and survive the shipping journey. One of our Welsummers didn't make it, but the others thrived and were quite lively! Early on Red was a very sweet baby, so it's funny that she grew up to be the most persnickety. The two plymouth rocks ruled the roost from day one. They were always popping around and pecking at your hands. Chipmunk was also a little daredevil as a chick, but ended up being sweet and a little shy. Chilly was always shy and sweet.
Baby Chilly entering the awkward teen chicken stage, when the adult feathers start to come in. We named her Chilly because when she was still completely fuzzy, she looked like a baby penguin. We loved her feathery legs and feet. She looks like she has a big pair of feather bloomers on.
Chilly today. Even though she is a Blue Cochin, she turned out all black. 25% of Blue Cochins do turn out black. She's still beautiful though, and her feathers have the most gorgeous green sheen.
Chipmunk at a few weeks old. She started out with fuzzy stripes and puffy cheek feathers like a Chipmunk, hence the name. We had no idea what she was going to look like as an adult, so we were fascinated as her feathers started to come out.
Chipmunk today. She is now a lovely golden color with pretty black detailed feathers on her back and wings. She still has the puffy cheek feathers. She is the only one that we own that has green legs and feet! She has started laying green eggs almost daily the last couple of weeks.
.Little Red. It's hard to believe she was so sweet and shy when she was little. She was a late bloomer. The last of the bunch to get her big-girl feathers. She and chipmunk always looked very similar with the stripes and feather patterns, just different colors
Red today. Miss Sassy! Like Chipmunk, she's acquired some really beautifully patterned feathers. She keeps us laughing on a regular basis with her silly antics.
Either Salt or Pepper as a young'un. They both looked pretty much the same, but the other photo of the opposite chick was blurry. It's hard to see the beak from this angle, but that's how we told them apart- by the pattern of black on their beaks. Salt had less black on her beak.
Pepper today. We thought that she was going to be at the top of the pecking order since she was the first to mature and the first to start laying, but it turns out that Salt is the head honcho. We now tell them apart from their combs. Pepper has a droopy comb that flops over to one side, she's more Emo.
Salt today. I interrupted some important dirt pecking when I took this picture. For the longest time her comb and wattle didn't grow, and we were worried that Pepper might have been a rooster since salt looked so different. We were relieved when Pepper started laying eggs!

2 comments:

  1. What beautiful girls! I can't believe you can get baby chicks mailed to you in a box. Cutest package ever!!!

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  2. Thanks Meg! Yeah, you can get ducks, turkeys, and other birds too. I think you can get many types of animals shipped, but obviously some are going to be much more expensive to ship than others. In my search for Angora rabbits I have discovered that I can in fact get one shipped, but it would end up costing $300-$400 in shipping fees, I believe. I think I'll keep searching within my driving range!

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