meet our chickens.
We have 8 lovely chickens. My son Anthony researched like crazy, then picked each one according to their breed, egg-laying frequency and availability. He even started a website called Picking a Chicken (www.pickinachicken.com). We don't do things half-way around here; we dive in full-force learning as we go. That means we run into issues, deal with them on the spot, pick up the pieces and are always mid-adventure.
Adding 8 chickens to our lives is no exception.
Anthony first ordered them via mail (little boxes of chirping chickens will melt your heart, by the way---the postal folks loved it!). The goal was to have 8 just-born chics come into our lives---and each others---simultaneously. It helps with the pecking order, apparently. We tried: but a number of the chics didn't make it. We dealt with early deaths, replacements, coddling, tiny unceremonious funerals and then decided we were bigger fans of going local (even if the timing and breeds were a little less predictable).
Grandpa (my dad, Anthony's grandpa) hooked us up. Time to learn from the smart ones that herded chickens before us; grandpa grew up on a farm where they had a plethora of chickens. And incidentally: I had chickens growing up too (I can still remember pulling on my red-tipped black barn boots and tromping down to the coop to fill the little wire basket with fresh, sometimes still warm eggs).
We now have a pile of chickens: a few from the original batch (we don't recommend mail-order), and a few batches from a local farm (which also accidentally gave us a rooster---too bad we couldn't keep it!). Two of the chickens---Fleur and Megs---came later to our little farm, which means they are 1-2 months behind on growth and have had to employ creative survival techniques (more on this later).
As for naming: we chose all female names for these egg-laying broads. My goal was to keep it food related... it is a chef-thing. I couldn't help myself. Just be glad I didn't call them 'Parmesan' and 'Alfredo' and 'Curry' or 'a la King.'
Brandy: top of the pecking order. Not a bad ruler. Established order early on and now maintains a peaceful kingdom.*
Pepper: I think pepper is gorgeous. Love watching her grow. I use a lot of black and white pepper, so this seemed a fitting name. I am still trying to figure Pepper out, and where she fits in the pecking order. TBD.
Poppy: my least favorite name... it doesn't quite seem to fit the visual effect. But striped black and white threw me for a culinary loop! Poppy's personality is predictable: she is mid to bottom of pecking order so naturally picks on the little ones. But not too often.
Megs: short for Nutmeg. Megs is one of the two that came late to the coop. She and Fleur are the smallest two---and always together. But among the big chickens, Megs really holds her own. Keeping an eye on her---once she is a bit bigger, she might challenge the pecking order.
Pictured below: Ginger is upright, Fleur is ogling food.
Fleur: My favorite name and possibly favorite chicken. Fleur is this lovely light gray-blue, named for the top-shelf French salt: Fleur de Sel. Fleur came at the same time as Megs---and remains the smallest chicken of them all. Beyond being beautiful, small and well-named, Fleur is perhaps the most entertaining of the chickens. B/c she is so small, she dives in for food, snags a piece and bee-lines it for the coop. Here she hides to enjoy her edible treasures. Then back for more. Fleur is stealth.
Ginger & Maple: Ginger and Maple. Maple and Ginger. These two have been inseperable from the start. At the very beginning, Brandy picked on Ginger and Maple was her protector. They look out for each other and seem to be tag-teaming their way back up the pecking order. Although these two look alike, Ginger has a lighter body and Maple more depth of flavor color. Maple pictured below.
Ollie: the least combative. Ollie is short for 'olive' and it is so fitting: Ollie is a shiny black and some of her feathers have a blue shine---stunning. Ollie might be on the bottom of the pecking order but really is more neutral than anything. Friend to all, best friend to no one.
Update: the chickens moved onto our farm in June. They are still growing to maturity; we expect them to start laying eggs any day now.
*peaceful is relative. When chickens get bored: they peck. When we were changing around their coop and had very little beyond straw in their space, chicken fights ensued. It's amazing how adding an obstacle course has kept them entertained.
**this is the flickr album of our chickens.