Chickens are my thing. There are crazy cat ladies, and there are crazy chicken ladies. I'm in the latter camp. It's one of those subjects that I get way too excited about and might go a bit overboard when I'm talking to people.
Our previous laying hens are now gone to the great henhouse in the sky; they were two years old (some a bit older) and their egg laying had very drastically declined. They had very happy lives here, and I was thankful for all that I learned from having them here. The breeds that are bred to lay so many eggs (as are the ISA brown layers, which they were) more or less tend to fall apart after a couple of years; and we had a few that had been sick over the past several months. (If you're at all interested in this or anything else about chicken keeping, this podcast interview with Terry Golson of HenCam is excellent. She explains all kinds of basic chicken information clearly and concisely; talks about why she doesn't have roosters, a bit about necropsies, etc. Fascinating stuff.)
All of that to say that we're starting fresh; I'm going to be thoroughly cleaning and whitewashing the coop over the next few weeks, and it will be ready for these new chicks to move in down there when they're a bit older. I picked up 18 Easter Egger chicks last Friday; some are now three weeks old (the awkward teenagers) and some are two weeks old. They're all healthy and happy, and completely adorable. We've also ordered 32 more assorted chicks - Olive Eggers, Marans, Barred Rocks, and Silver Laced Wyandottes (*swoooooooon*), which will hopefully be ready in a couple of weeks. Half of the chicks will be roosters, if the averages work out, so I'm hoping to end up with 25 laying hens which lay a range of gorgeous coloured eggs and a couple of kind and gentle roosters for my beautiful mixed flock that I've been daydreaming about for a long time.
One thing I love about the Easter Eggers in particular is that they each look so different. Easter Eggers aren't a true breed, so they have different beak and feet colours, and colours and patterns in their feathers. And guess where the name comes from? They lay a range of beautifully coloured eggs, which will hopefully start late September or October. Our little wards are currently tucked in to a brooder in the basement (a brooder is just the temporary housing for chicks until they're big enough to go into the coop) and so far we've succeeded at keeping the cat out.
Some of them have extra toes (see above) and I think that there are a couple of them that we can already tell are roosters because of their behaviour. One of them struts up to another, and they do this aggressive-looking chest bump. It's quite funny, really. It's so much fun to see them growing almost by the minute. Thanks to Adam for doing this little photo shoot with some of them yesterday!