Chicken Run Around
One of our (my) main reasons for leaving the city was that local bylaws didn’t allow us to have a flock of backyard chickens (of course, less than a year after we moved, they changed the rules).
Once we got our occupancy permit for the new house and were able to negotiate a regular, non-construction mortgage (back in mid March), we were finally able to relax a bit and start thinking about things other than the inside of the house (not that it’s finished, mind you, but we can live with it).
I started researching hatcheries early in the spring, looking specifically for heritage and rare breed chickens, and preferrably sexed so that we could control the number of roosters we’d end up with (because as we’ve already established, I’m not going to be dispatching animals anytime soon). I found one that sounded perfect, but after placing my order and waiting for several weeks to hear back (the website was very reassuring that they were just busy and would be in touch), I finally managed to get ahold of the owner only to be told that their posted minimum of 24 chicks required for delivery is actually a minimum of 50 if they’re being sent by airmail (why the website doesn’t mention this, I don’t know). After much deliberation, we decided to go ahead and order the 50 and find homes for the ones we didn’t need. But, after nearly 2 more weeks of not hearing back from him, we gave up and started looking elsewhere (he did eventually get back to me three days ago – a good month later – to tell me that he couldn’t fill our order. Good thing we didnt’ wait).
We more or less gave up on getting the breeds we were after (my daughter was desperate for her Salmon Faverolles), as there wasn’t much variety available from local breeders at this point, and rare breeds are, not surprisingly, kind of hard to find. I was beginning to think we’d have to order sex-link hybrids to at least ensure that we’d be getting females, but then we discovered that McMurray Hatchery would ship an order to the nearest US town and provide all the paperwork necessary to bring the chicks into Canada. Yay!
So, long story short, we’ve got 26 little fuzzballs arriving sometime in the next couple of days! We ordered 23 females, 1 straight run, and 1 male. We wanted one rooster to act as a watch dog, and decided to go with the Salmon Faverolle male, as they are reportedly very sweet and quiet, and are one of the best looking roosters out there. The females are:
2 Salmon Faverolles
2 Black Australorps
2 Dark Brahmas
2 New Hampshire Reds
2 Barred Rocks
2 Buff Orpingtons
2 White Wyandottes
2 Speckled Sussex
1 Rhode Island Red
1 Blue Laced Red Wyandotted (this one’s a straight run, so it could be male or female)
1 Jersey Giant
2 Black Stars
2 Red Stars
I decided to get a few of the hybrids (the Stars) because I’m going to be providing eggs for my mom’s Bed and Breakfast and wanted to be sure that we’d have a consistent supply (and besides, they’re just pretty).
One of my husband’s co-commuters (he travels to work in a van pool) is also a small scale chicken/egg farmer, and he finds our mixed-bag chicken order (as well as the whole concept of choosing chickens based on looks and personality) rather amusing. I may never be a hardcore poultry farmer, but I think I’ve discovered a new obsession – there are many more breeds out there that I’m dying to get. Maybe “poultry collector” is a more accurate description.
We found this video on Youtube today. It’s a segment from Dirty Jobs (a great show, if you’ve never seen it) where Mike Rowe goes to McMurray Hatchery to learn about chicken sexing. It’s a little alarming to see what the poor things go through before they’re stuffed in boxes and mailed to their new homes, but it’s exciting to know that they’re finally on their way!