When I told one of the high school seniors that I mentor that I had a bunch of chicks coming to my house, his first question was how old are they and will you introduce me to any of them. Such is the disparity of understanding each other these days! My chicks arrived safe and sound. The young woman at the post office was all smiles when she passed them over, I think more for a good-riddance sigh of relief than aren’t-you-just-the-nices-guy-around sort of thing.
Ordered from a very reputable hatchery, something I never remember doing when I was very young. My grandfather told me the hens had come from flocks from neighboring farms at one time or another, as our chicks, when they were old enough, were passed on to those same farms. I do remember seeing on one of the older supplement Sears catalogs that you could order chickens, guineas, peacocks, ducks and even swans (black or white) from that company even until I was in my late 20s or early 30s.
There were some good things about the good old days. Back then, with few exceptions, every family raised white leghorns (of Foghorn Leghorn fame). A few families had the occasional Rhode Island Red or Barred Rock. Mine will include some of these, and quite bluntly I won’t know which is which until they get past the chick fuzz stage for sure! This list is long, just know I am just repeating what I have been told here: Black Australorps; Light Brahmas; Dark Cornish; Black and White Giants; Buff and White Orpingtons; New Hampshire; Rhode Island Reds; Barred, White, Partridge, Buff Rocks; Delaware; Sussex; Turkens; White, Silver Laced and Columbian Wyandottes, Red Star and Black Star. I doubt very seriously if I have more than four or five different varieties of these listed.
Now is time to play catch up around my one-acre slice of heaven here in central North Carolina. A fenced area needs to be established within the next three to four weeks, of course. The ‘coop’ is already in place and set up. Roosting poles are ready to be installed and nesting boxes have to be made. My order was for 25 brown egg laying hens, which had a bonus of offering one free Exotic (already deemed a pet by others here), and I did order one rooster, a Speckeled Sussex by recommendation, and it will also become a ‘pet.’
Now it comes down to a netting over the run or not, I have been informed that as big as I am making my penned area (roughly 50 feet by whatever, with the whatever a very open ended number right now) that I may not need to cover the run except for protection from birds of prey.
Then it comes to ‘candling.’ Do I need to or not? If all the eggs are immediately going into cartons and into the fridge, do I need to candle? And if I need to candle do I need to let the people buying them know that I am indeed ‘candling’? Will they even know what candling is? Is the ‘size’ an issue, will my eggs be large, extra large or somewhere in between?
Then is just the issue of caring for 25-plus hens plus the one lucky rooster. Early rising is a norm for me, so that much isn’t an issue. My single biggest issue is predation. I have skunks, possums, racoons, foxes, the occasional coyote as well as various and sundry hawks and crows. Bobcats have been seen around here in the past, yet they may have moved on with all the road construction within a few miles of me. And even though I hunt, there are still the legalities involved in shooting some critter out of season, if there is a season. And does that mean I go around my never-big-enough-yet-too-big acre of land ‘packing’ all the time? Not that it would bother me all that much, although the neighbors within eyesight may have a different view of all that!
Fortunately, I just found out the state I live in is very ‘roadside stand’ friendly. Time will tell all and you will be with me for every bump and smooth part of the trip. More and more photographs are coming, I promise. The issue right now is my lack of computer expertise, mainly how to make the photos on my older flip phone appear magically on my computer. So far no amount of cussin’ has made that happen!
Anyone who wants to write with suggestions or questions, please feel free. I am always eager to see new emails and all will be answered, I promise.