Chickens in da house

July 30, 2012 · 15 comments

Chickens are funny. Funny ha ha.

Don’t they look regal, with their combs and honey-colored eyes? But in reality they are just silly little birds, quietly chatty, with odd household habits and a seeming willingness to dig a hole clear to China if it means getting a fresh bug or worm.

We’ve enjoyed getting to know our little chickies. We “adopted” them, from a woman in our neighborhood who had fifteen (!!!) in her backyard, needing to unload them before an imminent move. We connected via phone, and on a weekend she was out of town, Tim took the kids over and grabbed four. The kids named them that day:

1. Z-Horn
One of our two Plymouth Bard Rock chickens. Named Z-Horn because its feathers look like a zebra, and its comb is more horn-like than its twin. Or so my kids say — I still can’t tell the two chickens apart.

2. Z-Za-Zebra
Suffice it to say that this one was named by our 3-year old. She originally named her “Z-Zebra,” following the lead of her brother’s naming of Z-Horn. We tried to get her to reconsider, considering the fact that stuttering out the name “Z-Zebra” is awkward and confusing. But she stood her ground, and almost to punish our suggestion that her choice was anything but ideal, she retro-actively added an additional syllable — so “Z-Zebra” became “Z-Za-Zebra.” And you might as well add an extra syllable of laughter in there, because none of us can say it without chuckling.

Oh, and in case you think that Z-Horn and Z-Za-Zebra look suspiciously like the same chicken, they could be. I took countless photos of those birds, and when I got them downloaded couldn’t tell them apart. So, who knows. I’m calling them both Z-Horn anyway, here’s hoping they don’t suffer from identity crisis.

3. Fire
Fire is, in my opinion, the prettiest. But we have no idea what breed she is. Any ideas, those of you familiar with chickens?

4. Bullseye
Again, no idea on breed. Bullseye got her name because she was the first one the kids found scratching in the coop, and they thought she looked like a bull. Again, I plead confusion, because every time my kids refer to “Fire” this is the bird I picture. Because, you know, she’s bright gold. Like fire. Duh.

Taking care of these little creatures has been surprisingly, pleasantly easy. Most of the time they stay in their coop/run (details on these to follow in a future post) — but on slow mornings and weekends we close our backyard gate and let them out into the yard to eat grass and bugs. They dig up everything — which matters not to us, since the drought has left our grass brown, our yard full of leaves already fallen from two river birch trees in distress, our garden a bust. Call me cruel, but one of my favorite things is to sit outside and drink my coffee, watching them run in terror when a squirrel scuttles down a tree. Turns out, uselessly-terrified chickens are hilarious, especially first thing in the morning.

And, of course, the eggs. We’re getting an average of 3 a day, which according to many chicken folks is amazing in this heat. Their main diet is feed, but we’re generous with kitchen scraps — and between those and the grass/bugs, their yolks are the biggest, yellowest yolks I’ve ever seen.

Many of you have asked about the investment required for chickens — whether or not they save money on eggs. I’ll try to cover that in the next post, all about the house that Tim built.

 

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{ 15 comments }

Melissa July 30, 2012 at 11:13 am

I am thinking #3 looks like a Rhode Island Red, maybe, and #4 looks like a Buffington. Of course, I am just guessing from all my reading and looking at breeds. I need to get chickens soon.

katy July 30, 2012 at 11:35 am

You do! They’re easier than a garden ; )

Laurel July 30, 2012 at 11:33 am

Bullseye is a Buff Orpington. Orpingtons come in many colors, but she’s a buff. They are known for their gentle dispositions. We have about 20 of them. Nice birds. Often go broody.

katy July 30, 2012 at 11:34 am

Laurel, how do you know when they go broody? She’s pecked at a couple of her eggs, is that a bad sign?

Laurel July 30, 2012 at 11:47 am

Katy – They will go broody in April – June and sit on the nest (with or without an egg(s)) all day and will resist being moved. Broodies will often fluff up their feathers and get mean. The buff orpingtons are so nice though. Other breeds can get downright vicious. If you let them sit on fertilized eggs you’ll have chicks 21 days later. Cute overload!

Barbara | Creative Culinary July 30, 2012 at 11:39 am

I have chicken envy. I just know my neighbors would have a fit and the HOA would be informed and things would go downhill from there. Maybe if I bribed someone with fresh eggs? :)

Seriously…can’t wait to see your (mis)adventures with the birds!

katy July 30, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Barbara, I think bribery could go a long way. I know of more than one person in non-chicken-friendly suburbs here that has them — not sure I’d have the guts to risk it, especially considering the up-front investment, but on a scale of rebellious acts, I’d say illegal chicken-tending is low on the list ; )

quinnwick July 30, 2012 at 6:38 pm

I love that you have chickens. I think everyone that has a yard and eats eggs should have chickens.
One small thing, i believe Z-horn, and Z-Za-Zebra are in fact Dominiques, not plymouth rocks. They look exactly alike, except their combs are different. Dominiques have a rose comb, like the ones your two lovelies are sporting. I don’t know much about their difference in egg laying though. But happy chickens are entertaining chickens. I am sure you guys will enjoy yours as we do ours.

katy July 30, 2012 at 8:58 pm

quinnwick — that is welcome information! Since my husband had no idea what he took, we were forced to just sit and do google searches for breeds — Plymouth Rock was as close as we could land to our twins. But I kinda want to know for sure — no idea why it’s important to me, but I like to know.

It’s hard to keep up with who’s laying what — but we’re definitely getting about 3 a day from the four birds, which is right on-target with what we were expecting. I’m thinking with that math, all of them are pulling their weight. One of them started pecking the eggs, so I have golf balls in the laying box right now to try and break that habit.

Angie @ Just Like The Number July 31, 2012 at 9:23 am

Can we come over and just watch the chickens sometime? There are days when I could use a chicken-induced chuckle.

katy July 31, 2012 at 9:20 pm

The backyard is open for business ; )

joanna July 31, 2012 at 10:46 am

Our chickens are showing up THURSDAY! We’re one of those rebellious suburban types.

katy July 31, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Oooooh! I like it!

Carrie Moss August 2, 2012 at 9:37 am

Coming from the neighbor that supplied you with the chickens…
Number 3 is I believe a partridge rock and number 4 is a buff orpington. FYI they were hatched around October 1 – so they aren’t even a year old yet and they came from Meyer hatchery in Ohio as part of a “brown egg layer assortment”.

Carrie Moss August 2, 2012 at 9:42 am

And by the way you are welcome for the chickens.

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