Last fall, we gave our 15 chickens to some dear friends. Our original thought was that we did not want to raise chickens any longer because we had planned to travel a lot more. And we had been raising Bantam breeds (mixed breeds) so those teeny-tiny eggs were a bit of a challenge for our large family. We had to use 30+ to make a breakfast of scrambled eggs. YIKES !!
Well, rising gas prices have changed our plans for traveling significantly -- and food prices and food recalls are motivating us to work towards raising more of our own food that is less expensive and safer / healthier for comsumption.
So -- a batch of new chicks has been ordered for Beck's Bounty.
We ordered 25 Dominiques (our egg laying stock) -- they are considered a "heritage" breed, and not long ago were quite in danger of disappearing entirely from the "chicken world" as people were / are opting to raise the standardized breeds instead (sexlinks, rhode island reds, leghorns, bantams, arachanas, etc). Although we planned to raise a "heritage" breed, there are more than a few to choose from. So, we did quite a lot of "homework" before selecting THIS breed ---the Dominiques are supposed to be quite sturdy and hardy, are reportedly more disease resistant, and are rated to be prolific layers even in wintertime. The Dominiques are supposed to have a good disposition (neither the hens nor the roosters are "uppity", which is quite important when there are occassionally children tending to them), and they are good for meat and eggs. Also the reasearch shows that they make great mothers (usually).
Besides .... just look at her (the photo above) ... isn't she simply lovely !?! ?
The day-old peeps should arrive in approximately a few weeks, so in the mean time we will begin to get things ready for them. We need to set up the "play pen" (our name for the box with the heat lamp that the chicks will need inside our house for the first few weeks), and then will begin to build new nest boxes for our Chicken House so as to have a more efficient set-up for eggs. Plus we have to do a bit of pen maintenence. (Our chickens cannot free-range here as there are too many farm dogs and wild barn cats that would most certainly eat them. Too bad !! We love free-range eggs.) Then, all we will have left to do is wait until the chicks arrive, and then care for them until they are ready to go outside.
More information about this lovely breed is available here: http://www.mypetchicken.com/Dominique-B44.aspx
We are hoping that our Poultry Project will also contribute to our "freezer", so we have also ordered 5 cockrels with the current chick order. These are so we can "learn" and "practice" butchering those (5) before we order more (thanks to a friend and her mother who will serve as teachers - thanks SS) . It would be terrible to have MANY roosters running about AFTER we decide that "freezer" chickens are just not a project we can handle, right ?? That would be awful indeed !! Our HOPE (before experience, of course) is to butcher 50-75+ chickens for the freezer this fall when the temperatures begin to drop. But of course, all of that depends on whether or not our family can "handle" the butchering process after working to process the 5 cockrels currently on order. We shall see how it all works out. (The freezer chicks can supposedly be butchered at roughly 10-12 weeks old -- so, we will know in plenty of time if we want to order more chicks bound for the freezer later this summer / fall.)
We will post some photos when the peeps arrive ....