Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Chickens, Chickens and MORE Chickens!

Okay, I have a lot of chickens.
This is barely a fraction of them
And now I'm getting MORE chickens.
I never imagined when I set that first batch of eggs in the incubator last spring that it would lead to this. I have 40 birds as of now, we still have one extra rooster and lots of old hens to dispatch but right now it's 40.
With as many chickens as I already have, I've been busy acquiring more, I set 37 eggs for incubationl last week and today I ordered 10 Appenzeller Spitzhaubens,(yes that is a breed of chicken)15 Cuckoo Marans,(five of those are for a friend)10 Easter Eggers and 6 Bourbon Red Turkeys.
Okay, yeah, that's a lot of birds.
And heaven forbid I forget the newest addition to my flock, my pride and joy:

Meet Hans, Hans is an Icelandic rooster(Icelandics are also called Viking Hens)and in my opinion, he's the prettiest thing with two wings! Shhh, don't tell Alfredo I said that!
My friend, a fellow chicken fanatic and enabler, gifted him to me yesterday. She imported Hans as an egg from Iceland and hatched him here. Icelandics are really rare, my friend is in fact the only breeder of them in Arizona! If Hans was sold to me he'd go for 50 to 60 dollars, which makes him a really incredible gift. I hope to buy a hen or two off of her in the fall, I would love to breed Icelandics! 
Until I get Hans some pretty Icelandic ladies, he'll have to settle for my girls.I hope to get some good colors from him, and also that AMAZING tail, it's beautiful and extravagant but not so much that it is impractical, which is perfect for my end goal of a beautiful, practical, dual purpose chicken.
Making friends over meal worms!
So right now Hans is in his own little love shack with two Buff Orpingtons, two Easter Egger/Plymouth Rock mixes,  one Rhode Island Red/PR mix, and one Barred Rock. And while he socializes with the ladies, the rest of the flock can get used to him and the other roosters will learn to tolerate his presence!
Stand off with my big White Plymouth Rock rooster, Kentucky.
I can't wait to see what his babies look like!

This spring is shaping up to be awesome and full of baby chicks, I can't wait!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Value of Life

I felt a bit under the weather last weekend and on Sunday I woke up with a sore throat, so while I sipped my elderberry tea and tried to forget I had a throat I decided to re-watch Food Inc.

It's a great documentary and I would highly encourage you watch it. (It's on Netflix instant play.) Although I would recommend doing so on an empty stomach. If you must eat, I would do so with food that you know exactly where it came from! :)
Honestly I don't know what I was thinking, because if you weren't sick before you watched it, you're sick after! Pretty much everything about the food system today and the journey your food takes from "farm" to store is absolutely horrific. 

This documentary is incredibly eye opening and makes me extremely grateful that slowly my family is becoming more and more self sufficient.
Afterwards, I was looking for more things written by Joel Salatin, who was interviewed in the film. I came across an article that he wrote that again made me grateful. It's a really good read I would give it a look-see:

The article basically talks about the ethical slaughter of animals and how important it is that we teach our children this. It's incredibly vital that we give our children the opportunity to participate in the raising and yes, slaughtering, of their food. The caring for any animal is amazing for developing responsibility and character but slaughtering teaches us the value of life, and the preciousness and how easily it can be taken away. And I'm so grateful my parents gave me the responsibility of caring for my chickens and let me watch them slaughter them.
 I'm grateful for the fact that my chickens and turkeys get all the sunlight, good food and love they need, I'm happy that I can raise them and when the time comes for them to fulfill their purpose in this world,  I'm glad I can pick them up without a fuss and that I can take their life in the kindest way possible. 
It may seem horrible to have a child of 6, 7 or 8 watch or participate in the slaughtering of an animal but I honestly think it is an important part of education. They need to be taught the circle of life and how important it is that we do it RIGHT, by giving these animals the care and respect they deserve. I wish there were more people like Joel Salatin teaching kids about where their food comes from and the value of life.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Crazy Chicken Lady: an introduction

Hello! I'm The Chicken Lady.
Or as I'm more commonly called, The Crazy Chicken Lady.
Actually it's more like "obsessed, crazy, chicken lady."
To cut to the chase, I am crazy about chickens. (But you've probably already guessed that.)
But how did I become so obsessed with chickens? I might as well give the back story since you'll be joining me on my chicken endeavors from here on out!
Several years ago, my mom decided to get chickens, I wasn't as crazy about as I am now but I was on board, who wants to eat disgusting store bought eggs anyway? Dad built a run for them and soon 12 Rhode Island Reds and Easter Eggers made it their home.
It didn't quite escalate that much from there as you might immediately think, I liked the cute baby chicks but that was about that. I fed them in the morning and evening and that was about it.
No, the moment the obsession started was when we decided to get a rooster.
Mom decided it would be awesome to hatch and raise our eggs, forget getting everything from an hatchery we were going to be completely chicken and turkey independent!
Now this was something I could get into.
I started doing A LOT of research, as one should do before going forth on something that was going to bring new life to (hopefully) fruition. 
Suddenly a whole community was opened up to me. The wonderful forum that is was a huge help in learning the ropes of incubation. However, I wasn't quite ready to partake in the community yet, I still wasn't to the point of complete and utter love for these birds quite yet.
No, that point would come almost exactly 21 days later. Suddenly I saw the work of my labor, I had been the keeper of the holy grail of temperature and humidity for these budding life forms for 21 days, more work had been put into their parents, feeding, tending to them. Hour's of my life had been eaten away by research and here they were, slowly chiseling their way out of the eggs that had once protected and sheltered them, the thin shell was no longer needed in their eyes,they were ready for the real world.
It enchanted me.
It captivated me.
I was enraptured.
And since that moment I've wanted nothing more than to hear the soft sound of cheeping as a little ball of wet fluff tastes the air for the first time. 

As the babies grew, I suddenly became aware of this thing called genetics and how interesting and fun it can be!! All the babies we hatched were interesting crosses of a White Plymouth Rock  and either a Rhode Island Red, New Hampshire Red, or Easter Egger. They were such cool little chickens! And very popular with some of the people we gave them to I mean look at these guys!
Parmesan, easily the most extravagant of the roosters we hatched!
Oregano, a beautiful little EExWPR cross.
Young rooster.
Kind of a bad picture but this is Cardamon, in my opinion she's the most beautiful bird I have hatched so far!  
They were beautiful, grew incredibly fast and were BIG! What wasn't to love?

Immediately the possibilities were present, could I make more unique and beautiful birds? How could I improve upon these birds? I was hooked and I wanted more. MORE birds! MORE breeds!! Breeding pens, punnett squares! It's amazing what hatching eggs can do to you.
I'm still just experimenting a little bit, I'm still not set in stone the kind of chicken I will be creating and where this breeding adventure will take me but I've decided to bring others in along for the ride. 

I don't know what crazy chickens I will create but I can't wait to get started! And I can't wait to share my journey with others! :)