Thursday, April 18, 2019

Meet the Chicks

We've talked about getting chickens for awhile now. Finally, last spring we decided the time had come. I did a LOT of research and began constructing a chicken coop (post on that to come). The weather was less cooperative than we would have liked, as is typical of Pacific Northwest springtime, thus building the coop took longer than anticipated. Before we had quite finished it, the local supply of chicks had dried up and my motivation to continue the work right along with it.

Fast forward to this spring. Looking at the 85% finished coop every time I went outside got me thinking about chickens again. I resumed my research and tried to find some older pullets (hens that are less than a year old) that would be ready to lay this summer, but getting pullets is hard and expensive. Finally, I accepted that if I wanted to pick specific breeds and varieties, I was going to have to get chicks. So, I placed an order online to be delivered in June (that was the soonest I could get the ones I wanted). The timing wasn't ideal, but it was the best I could manage.

With chicks on the way, I was going to need a brooder, so I built one of those (post on that to come, as well). The brooder project actually went pretty quickly. After it was finished, I took a short road trip to visit a friend at a chicken show not too far away, just to get myself into the chicken mood. While there, I popped into a local farm store that just happened to have chicks for sale ... including most of the types I wanted. Before I knew it, I had purchased a dozen of the adorable little fluff-butts. I took them home and deposited them into the brooder. Just like that, I was officially a chicken owner. (Note: I did cancel the online order so I wouldn't end up with more chickens than I could comfortably house.)

For the first of what may well be many chicken-related posts, I decided to show off my new little girls (and one likely boy). I spent way too much of my day trying to get a decent pic of each of them. I mostly succeeded. So, without further ado, here are our new little chicks (Disclaimer - all names are being tested and may be subject to change as the chicks get older and their final appearances and personalities become more developed.):

This is Cayenne. She is one of two Gold-laced Wyandottes. She will develop into a lovely brown hen with golden, laced feathers.

Cayenne got her name from her bright red head and her feisty personality. She is bossy and active, but so far hasn't been mean. She is the largest of all the chicks, which might partly explain her bossiness. She will lay brown eggs as an adult (assuming she doesn't turn out to be a rooster, which given some of the bossy behavior I've witnessed is certainly a possibility).

Paprika, the dark chick on the right, is the other Gold-laced Wyandotte. I'm fairly certain that she actually is a pullet. She is quiet and gentle. As you can see, Paprika also has a red head, but a much lighter face. The blue chick next to her is Lavender, a Blue-laced Red Wyandotte. I was unable to get this variety online and was very excited to see them at the farm store. Their presence is what triggered my purchase.

Marjoram is another Blue-laced Wyandotte. She has much darker down and a lot more color in her wing feathers. She also has red splashes on her head.

Rosemary is my third Blue-laced Wyandotte. She has a light down like Lavender and red splashes like Marjoram. I am looking forward to seeing how these slightly different girls develop as they get older. It was very sweet of her to show off her wing for me.

This is Peppercorn. She is a Dominant Copper, which is a cross between a Barred Rock and a Copper Maran. She is much tinier than the Wyandottes and looks like a chubby little penguin. I couldn't get a good view of her face, but I will keep trying. It is truly adorable. Peppercorn will lay dark copper to chocolate brown eggs when she matures.

The little black chick on the right is a second Dominant Copper. (The larger chick on the left is Paprika.) She is even tinier than Peppercorn. I'm having a tough time settling on a name for this bitty girl. She developed a case of pasty-butt the first night home and I started referring to her as Little Miss Poopy Butt, but my husband insists that is not an appropriate (or particularly nice) name. Besides, it doesn't fit in with the herb & spice theme I have going. I'm currently bouncing back and forth between Parsley and Anise. I may have to wait for her to get a bit older before I can settle on one or the other (or something else entirely).

This little gal is Ginger. She started out all yellow, then developed this adorable ginger head. Unless her coloring changes drastically, her name is settled. Ginger is one of three Easter Egger Colorpack chicks. These chicks are a cross of Cream Legbars with at least two other standard breeds. They will lay green to blue eggs as adults.

Ginger is a silly girl who spends her time either hiding or trying to boss the bigger birds around. She has a lot of personality packed into a tiny package. It will be interesting to see just where she ends up in the pecking order as an adult.

Cinnamon is another Easter Egger Colorpack chick. Very sweet and lovely, she has quickly become one of my favorites. Like Ginger, she will lay eggs somewhere in the green to blue range.

Here is Cinnamon again with Coriander, my third Colorpack chick. Note the spot on his head. Unlike many breeds, Colorpacks can be sexed by the presence or absence of this spot. Because Coriander has a spot, he is almost certainly a cockerel (rooster less than a year old). We picked him for that reason as we had decided we wanted to try having a rooster to protect the hens. Time will tell if this was a good decision or not.

Nutmeg is an Easter Egger, but not a Colorpack. Easter Eggers are usually Ameraucanas crossed with something else. They often lay bluish eggs, but can also lay green, pink, brown or cream. We won't know what color she will lay until she actually starts laying. That is the fun of Easter Eggs. Their feathers and eggs come in all different colors and it's a surprise what you end up with. It's difficult to see in these pictures, but Nutmeg has buff colored cheek muffs.

Nutmeg is bold and spunky. She is usually the first chick to examine and explore anything new in the brooder. She happily climbs up into my hand even when I am not offering treats. If I had to name a favorite at this stage, Meg would be it. She has such a joyful personality and a really adorable face.

Clove is our second Easter Egger. She is a sweet, timid, little thing. As you can see, she looks totally different from Nutmeg. Overall, she is much darker and her cheek muffs are grey, which makes them much easier to see.

This is Clove from the side. She has beautiful wing feathers already. If it weren't for the tufts, I'd swear this girl was another Gold-laced Wyandotte. She looks so much like them. I can hardly wait to see how she turns out when all grown up. 

And that's all of them. Colonel Coriander and his eleven herbs and spices. Yeah, I went there. Stay tuned for more posts and pics as these little chicks grow up. In the meantime, I need to finish getting that coop ready!