July 23, 2012
I grew up around chickens and started raising my own when I was about 18, I think. I live in an area that's like a chicken mecca, big hatcheries in several directions, and big production barns a little further out. There are breeding farms within half a days' drive that specialize in rare breeds of quail and partridge, turkeys and pheasants, geese and ducks, and even peacocks. It's not unusual to see emu ranches, and I even had an emu fall out of a trailer in front of me on an exit ramp one year. Don't worry, I didn't run over it.
My dream since I was a child was to have peacocks, and there are so many cool 'collector' colors out there now that I positively drool, so that's definitely on a bucket list. Problem with peacocks is they are *noisy* thangs, so I'm hoping we move to a bigger place for those. A rural subdivision full of fancy dogs is no place for peacocks.
When you grow up on farms and ranches and have to name a lot of animals, it becomes kind of a game, and sometimes you develop themes. When we were teenagers we had goats, and one set of twins was called called Bunny and Jack (put Rabbit after that), another set was Timex and Speidel (watches). My niece named a calf Tuna when she was little, and her sister had a cat named Amino. I try not to name pets after people I know, especially chickens, because chickens tend not to live that long, and you hate to go, oh, so and so died... I know my sister finds it frustrating when someone pops up that they have a dog or pig with the same name as her, and other people might find it disturbing, too, so I try to stick to themes. For instance, my last flock before this one was named after retailers, although Macy was technically named after the parade. I also had a Dooney (& Bourke), Bean (as in L.L.), and Spencer.
This year's flock is named after tv characters. I started with 8, but Zelda (after Ocarina of Time) went into seizures her first week and didn't make it, so I lost my first ever Cuckoo Maran, which would have laid 'chocolate' eggs. (I'm linking so you can see pictures if you want.) The names don't always fit, but I had the names picked out before we ever got the chicks.
Myka (from Warehouse 13) is an Indian River, and I was under the assumption she would turn out red like her mom with the Delaware markings like her dad, but she's a beautiful white. Supposed to be a super egg layer.
Mary Margaret turned out not to be as 'Snow White' as I thought she would be (from Once Upon a Time). She's an Austra White, another mixed breed for vigorous laying. I've never had a pink faced white chicken with black legs before, so the joke is that she's my naughty Catholic, a lady of the night in her stockings, as it were.
Abby (from either NCIS- Scott's choice, or Primeval- my choice, take your pick) is a puzzle. I knew what a Columbian was supposed to be like, it's a particular color pattern, and our Abby is spot on. But she's turning into a monster. The hatchery guaranteed 93% accuracy on sexing, and out of 8 chicks, that means there is a fairly strong chance of one of them turning out to be a rooster, so we're hoping Abby is just going to be a big gal. I've had heavy breeds before, but our Abby is only 3 months old and already bigger than all my old hens were, so I hope it's not a growth hormone problem. Sometimes you see weird stuff.
T'Pol (from Star Trek: Enterprise) turned out to be my most aptly named chicken, very first one to investigate and do everything. She's a Speckled Sussex, and already looking more petite than Bean from my last batch (who got pounced on by a hawk when she was 3). I've never seen a more curious breed than this, not sure if it's common trait or I just got two flukes in a row.
Nadia G (from Bitchin' Kitchen) is a Golden Laced Wyandotte. A Wyandotte trait across the board is a rose comb, which I'd never tried out before in all my years of raising chickens. Kinda reminds me of the little dress hats my mom used to wear to church. So far Nadia is our tamest, likes to come see what we're doing and stand by us, lets me get pictures without freaking out.
Morgana (from Merlin on Syfy here in the States) is a Silver Laced Wyandotte, and my most drop dead gorgeous chicken, easily the most photogenic, so I think I matched the name up pretty good with her.
Amy Farrah Fowler (from The Big Bang Theory) is our wonky little oddball. She's a 'Blue Egger', basically a mutt that is supposed to have the blue egg gene, which is dominant. She was the cutest chick because of her little muff around her face, but she's grown into something so cartoony that we can't help thinking that her front half looks like the chicken hawk from Looney Tunes. She grew funny and has an unusual gait, so her back half moved like a pigeon until she matured, and she still uses her legs like they were patched on by an Igor. She has never cried and eats like a pig, so I don't think she was ever in any weird growing pain, but she's always going to be tiny and weird. The coolest thing about her is she has awesome super fluffy 'blue' feathers underneath the funny light ginger color.
So I'm trying out Wyandottes this year. I've tried so many kinds of chickens, but never before Wyandottes, and I'm finding out there is a worldwide hobby devoted to new colors called feather lacing (scroll down that page for some truly beautiful birds). Might try it myself one day. Click on the icon for more about designing your own chickens.
Blue laced reds are on my bucket list, one of the rarest varieties in the world.
Personal note on Egyptian Fayoumi, one of the many breeds I've raised, you might wanna treat these like game birds for awhile, they tend to fly off into the trees and don't necessarily come back. The ones I had were about as wild as any I've seen. Somewhere in Missouri is a flock of wild chickens...
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