Chicken Tales

Reader Contribution by Lori Dunn
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Raising chickens this time around has certainly turned out to be quite an adventure for my husband and me! We received our adorable little fluff balls back in May. After changing our minds many times, we finally agreed on two different breeds of chickens to try. We got 27 chickens in all, 12 Welsummers, and 15 Delawares. It was very interesting for me to see the different characteristics of each breed as they grew. Although both are friendly, the Delawares are extremely tame, loving human contact.

Over the course of the last six months we have lost two chickens to unknown causes. The first was a Welsummer hen when she was very young. She was smaller than all the rest right from the start, and she seemed stunted. She never grew properly and got very weak, so we pulled her out of the flock. The second was just a few weeks ago, and was a bit harder on us than the first. Our beloved Henny Penny got sick. We don’t know why. We pulled her out from the rest of the chickens, and moved her into a pen in our basement. We tried to save her, and she improved for a while, but then she started to go downhill fast and died.

We also culled four roosters from the flock, and put them in the freezer.

The rest of the chickens are healthy and doing very well. We started getting our first eggs on September 24th. The Delawares were the first to start laying beautiful little medium brown eggs. The longer they lay, the larger their eggs got.

Then the Welsummers started to lay wonderful dark brown eggs! Every time I gather the eggs, it is a thrill to reach in and collect eggs of this color.

We get lots of compliments on the quality of these eggs with their orange yolks. There is such a difference in eggs when the chickens have free range to forage naturally.

Our latest surprise with the chickens happened a few days ago. One of our Delaware hens decided to go broody at only six months old and in the middle of November! We could not believe it! The place she chose to sit was not the best, so we tried to move her into a pen where she would be warmer and more comfortable, but it did not suit her! She wouldn’t stay on the nest, so we let her back out. She went back to the same place for about half a day, and then she moved herself to a better location where she can stay warmer and protected from the elements. She has been sitting on the nest ever since. She has four eggs under her. We are going to let her go and see how she does. If she hatches, we will move her and her peeps into our warm basement with a light. She should hatch sometime around December 8th, if all goes well. I am trying not to have high hopes, as she is so young, and it is so late in the season, but I keep thinking of the great pictures I could get for Christmas cards with baby peeps in a Christmas stocking!

These chickens have been a real pleasure for us to raise, and who knows what surprises they may have for us come Spring!

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