Sunday, July 3, 2011

#46 - Chicken-School is In Session

As of March 16th, 2011, I knew virtually NADA (nothing) about chickens. The next day, Deputy Dave took me to the local Tractor Supply where we purchased seven of the most adorable baby chicks that you've ever seen!

As of March 17, 2011, I became a chicken owner. Over the next few months, until present date, I would receive many crash lessons about their daily care and mannerisms. I studied chickens for years, but I never really let any of it soak in since there was vast information relating to breeds, size of flocks and feeding conditions.

One of the first lessons I've learned is that chickens add a bit of spice to your life. Unlike a usual pet, you do not have to give them cuddle time, yet our chickens do allow you to pet them; you do not have to bathe your chickens, but they do like to fluff themselves in a good dry dirt bath; and you do not have to teach them commands because they simply follow your lead.

Yes, the chicks were in a master bathroom tub for a few weeks.
An important matter of the heart relating to my experience with chickens has been that they've helped me deal with the parental evolution I have experienced in the past few years as my status has gone from "mommy" to ultimate supportive "friend." I always told my daughters, as they were growing up, that I was NOT their friend. But, I promised that once they grew up, I'd finally be their friend and their mom. Hence, in the blink of an eye, the "friend" status is upon me.

Learning how to switch gears to adult children will often make you cringe, but as your kids get into their 20's, the "nurturing" you try to show to them is suddenly interpreted as "interfering." Augh! This is where the chickens come in...they have helped to re-direct some of my "nurturing" energy. Even though I am learning to be an empty nester, I have chickens and can busy myself with checking THEIR nest! I feel like a kid again. An old kid, but a kid nonetheless. My daughters crack up over my excitement about my chickens. For years, my kitchen has been decorated with chickens and rooster artwork, but I finally get to look at the REAL things in my backyard! Our chickens do bring me tremendous joy. Deputy Dave feels the same way. We're having a ball raising chickens!

However, as I've done for years...I'm rather obsessed about all things "chicken." In fact, every time I see a flash on the television screen with chickens as the star, I am riveted in place and cranking up the volume. If you have chickens, or have had chickens, or have a dream of getting some chickens, or if you are interested in are my kind of people.

Scrawny stage.
I've been reading a lot about chickens, but having them peck around my backyard and peer through the french doors in my master bedroom has revealed these birds to be very entertaining. I don't even want to go to the movies anymore, I have chickens to watch. They're right outside poking around my backdoors, trying to coax me into coming back outside to join them. They usually succeed.

Deputy Dave enjoying the chickens free-ranging in
his garden so that pests are reduced.
I kneel down and they flock around me, letting me pet them and I think they are pretty darn cute.
The first few pictures that I posted online of my chickens were hysterical because I had no idea as to the kind of breed we had purchased.

As the chicks get older, we can see that two are clearly
different. Also, we begin to see than two are probably roosters. Oh nooo!
Tractor Supply did not know of their breeds either. Unfortunately, they'd been all mixed up. Of course, no one around us knows one thing about chickens, other than that chickens come in nugget form and can be purchased from the drive-through under MacDonald's arches in the sky.

The chickens love hearing the bucket with feed being shaken.
They come running.
Eventually, as the chickens began to grow and to show their maturity, I was told by a blog buddy, Rae from, that she believed our chickens were Buff Orpingtons. And, it looks as if Rae from Oregon was on the money. It seems that this breed likes to try to perch on your shoulder and our chickens love doing this. Rae always has interesting information to share about chickens, and her blog is fun to read because she's also taking a shot at raising geese!

Then, Rina from suggested the same thing...that we had Buff Orpingtons. Rina has chicken dramas that are sometimes so sad, but they are part of the real world of owning chickens. She's honest and raw about her experiences. Since she lives in New South Wales, Australia, I find myself reading her blog with a Crocodile Dundee accent. Yes, I have an exotic side. I wonder if she hears my Texas drawl?

Another valuable blog pal who reminds me of Hermione from Harry Potter is LindaG at and she is a research Queen. If I have a question, she is definitely a big help at finding an answer. She has wisdom and experience and determination to get answers. Both Linda and I are trying so hard to get to the point to where we can actually live on our farm land and FARM it! I can't even express how much I appreciate her!

There are so many blog buddies who are offering help and sharing in my excitement of waiting for the first egg to be found! I am making my enjoyable rounds to everyone's blog and the lessons I'm learning in the meantime are pretty awesome.

HERE SHE IS!  We do not know her breed.
Her rooster counterpart has been
re-located and that means we have 5 Buff Orpingtons and
this one gal who is a Mystery Chicken.

Normally, I am great at research, but this is what happens as I start to look up an answer for a chicken question...for example, if I am trying to figure out what color eggs my chickens will lay...I get onto the first chicken website and see a set of little chicks with black fuzz, and I wonder, "What kind of chickens are these?"

So, I go off on a search to read all about those black fuzzy chickens.

Then, I see some weird looking chicken that is listed as "ornamental" so I have to stop to read about its strange existence and purpose.

And so on, and so on. The chicken intrigue never ends. At least not for me.

Then, I am back to my original question, left unanswered. Yet, my head is congested with more chicken information than I intended to gather. And, I may be left contemplating the difficulties of raising a "rumpless" chicken. Tired of researching topics that have veered off my main subject, I decide to log onto my blog and find that Rae, Rina or Linda has made helpful comments and answers about my questionable subject!

The chickens enjoying their Chicken Tractor, built by Deputy Dave.
All seven of them are trying to get a peek outside.
Weeks later, ONE Buff Orpington is so huge that she takes
up the entire entrance!
It is so nice having FOCUSED blog friends during the beginning of your first real-live chicken-owner-frenzy.

I'm hoping someone can help me out with the rogue chicken breed label. I've conducted some research, but a little thumbnail picture cannot confirm whether that is the kind of chicken you have or not. I've seen some contender answers, but am never exactly sure if I've tagged the little gal correctly. Little mystery chicken is called "Miss. Speckles." Such a sweet bird. She's smaller than the rest; she is mostly white with speckles. The truth is, Miss. Speckles is pretty darn cute. She "talks" to me more than the Buff Orpingtons. Miss Speckles is a chatty little gal. I wonder what her eggs will look like...

As I move along in this wonderful time in life, I finally get to raise my first flock of chickens and experience the beauty of owning chickens that generations of farmers have previously known. I am delighted. This week should be interesting because we'll be adding a few golf balls to their coop nesting boxes. Why golf balls? Supposedly, this helps trick an egg-memory into their chicken brains that will encourage laying in the area of the golf balls. I think this was a tip that I read in one of my Countryside magazines about three years ago. I'll let you know how it goes; the golf balls placed as fool's eggs might help or they might not, but either way, they won't go to waste, and I WILL find the eggs no matter where they're laid!


Rae said...

Awww... Thanks, Lana!

No idea what breed Miss Speckles is, but you really should try asking on the forum that I recommended on one of your other blog posts. Lots of very very helpful and friendly folks there. Bet they could identify her pretty quickly.

As for egg color, I believe it can be determined by ear color. At least that's what I've read.

Rae said...

Could she be a light Sussex? I googled "white chicken with speckles", and found a pic that looked a bit like her...

LindaG said...

You're very kind, Lana.
Do you by chance read Backyard Chickens magazine?
Anyway, I went looking at a couple of pages that I have bookmarked to help me try to decide what kind of chickens we want.
I was thinking maybe Delaware, but keep in mind I don't really know anything. ;-)
The link for one page is here,, if you'd like to compare for yourself. If you click on the picture, it takes you to a page for that breed.

Your chickens look great, by the way! :)

LindaG said...

Oops. *slaps forehead*
I meant Backyard Poultry magazine, haha.
Though Hobby Farms has a Chickens magazine that come out... bimonthly or quarterly, lol. I don't remember. I know you have to buy it off the shelf because they don't do subscriptions. :/ And you can often find 2 issues on the stands. :)

Mike said...

Hi. I found your blog on Life on a Southern Farms' blog, I think. The chicken in question is, in my best guess, a Brahma breed. One day I'd like to get some layers, too. Right now I'm having fun with my rabbits.

Paula said...

You have some beautiful girls!
I agree with Mike- Miss Speckles looks like either a Brahma or a Wyandotte to me.

Lana from Farm Life Lessons said...

Rae - I do love that site...found it through your site! :-) And I never heard about the egg color and the ear color being linked. That is fascinating. The research that I've been doing seems that she could be a Light Sussex. It appears that the "speckled" appearance on their feathers becomes more pronounced each time they molt, they only become prettier. I don't know if thats exactly her breed, I'll keep checking, but she sure looks like a Light Sussex.

Linda --- I've read one issue of the Backyard Poultry Magazine, but did not realize that it only comes so infrequently. I would always just find it by happenstance while at the Tractor Supply Store. But, I've been a subscriber to Hobby Farms for many years and LOVE that main magazine. I did go look at the breed chart for the site that you and Rae have told me about...maybe she is a Light Sussex. I just love her, she has a great little personality. Never thought I'd get this attached to a chicken!

Mike --- I am looking at all the suggestions for the chicken sinse we had NO INDICATION at all as to what kind she might be when we purchased her as a chick. I think your rabbits are awesome - I went by your site a few times and really enjoy reading everything. Sometimes, we're just stuck in the city for practical reasons, but at least we have the country in our heart at all times.

Paula --- I am checking out both of your suggestions. It's hard to know because she is so young. It seems that chickens with these patterns etc. seem to develop more of them as they age, so it's throwing me off...Argh!