Backyard chicken flocks can be a fun hobby. The high protein content of fresh, fertilized eggs add health to the list of benefits. After having given what was left of our chickens away before our move from Pine Valley Farm (and losing the rooster who would spend his final days in local notoriety as “The Center Point Rooster”, Tony and I eagerly looked forward to the next time we could have chickens. This time would have to wait a year and a half so that we could get resettled into our new smaller home at “the top”. Tony is skilled at building designs and drew out a layout for a coop that can be divided in half for future times of raising new chicks separate from the mature ones and a yard that will be divided so that new grass can be growing in the unused half.
I spent hours pouring over lists of desired traits that we would like to have in the hens. Finally in April the order was off and we eagerly awaited the chicks, which get sent over a weekend so I am thankful for God’s design of the yoke sac keeping them nourished during a 3-4 day shipment.
I researched the perfect rooster type for us. We have had too many aggressive roosters in the past who have taken on various members of our family over the years, including yours truly. If you’ve not been attacked by an aggressive rooster, I will just say it’s not something you would enjoy. I had a battle with one at our Bourbon farm. There was no one within hearing distance as this driven rooster kept backing up and charging me repeatedly. I am happy to say I finally won the ongoing battle unscathed by his spurs, but only because there happened to be a cast iron skillet laying in the barn yard, which I used to slap the rooster upside the head each time he charged me. After I relayed that harrowing adventure to Tony that rooster was in the pot the same day with some dumplings. And I felt very little pity and enjoyed my dinner. There were several other such rooster stories over the years that our kids relish relating. So, if the chicken magazine lists are correct, there are roosters who are calm and friendly. I wanted one with bright color variation to boot. The Welsummer fit the bill, so we got a few straight run Welsummers hoping one would be a rooster and that’s exactly what happened. He is a bit young for this to be conclusive, but so far,unlike the hens, he is wildly fearful and paranoid. I wonder if this is part of the non aggressive part of his personality. We asked Caleb to name him and he chose Spike, after a childhood cockatiel. We added “Wellington” for a classy prelude to “Spike”.
We also have two Welsummer hens. I was delighted to visit a friend and fellow chicken connoisseur recently and discover that she had a few Welsummers including a Welsummer rooster. She showed me their eggs and they are the darkest brown eggs I have ever seen. They also can be broody, are hardy, are economical eaters, friendly and adaptable to confinement.
We ordered two Dorkings because they are cold hardy, great brooders, adaptable to confinement, calm, steady, gentle, easily handled, somewhat rare and pretty. Pretty puts it mildly. Their coloring and feather variation make them stunningly beautiful. We wanted a few hens whose genetics include broodiness so that next spring, when we may take a notion for some new chicks, we can hope for a hen to do all the miraculous work of hatching eggs and guarding chicks, rather then an incubator and me.
Two of the tried and true Buff Orpingtons were on my list because they are good brooders, hardy, adaptable to confinement or free range, docile and easily handled. These two gals are the quickest to show curiousity and friendliness.
I was not previously familiar with Blue Cochins, but read that they are excellent brooders, good mothers, robust and cold hardy, adaptable to confinement or free-range, peaceful, friendly and easily handled. They are very large birds. Profuse layers they are not; however. And having spent many mornings watching our chickens before our day “starts”, we can say that these beautiful cochins are mischievous and comical to watch with their unusual large size and feathered feet. My mom and my aunt Earleen (both widows who spend a few days together every few months in giddy camaraderie) were “honored” to have these two comedians named after them.
These two Delewares have promise to be profuse layers, hardy in heat and cold, adaptable to confinement or free-range, calm and friendly. These two bonded with Tony even when very young and always showed interested in pecking at his crocks and being picked up by him.
For profuse rich brown egg laying, good broodiness and mothering, very hardiness to cold, adaptability to confinement or free-range, quietness, docility and ease of handling, I ordered five Rhode Island Reds.