Thursday, April 07, 2011

Chickening Out

If you ask my kids what the best day of the year is, I'm not sure they'd say Christmas or their birthday. They might just say it's baby chick day. Every two to three years, we get to go and pick out some new baby chicks to add to our flock of egg layers. A few weeks before, the kids get the Chick Calendar that tells which breeds are coming in on which day. Since our flock is small, we only get a few chicks at a time, which means we need to get them all on the same day. If you got two chicks one week and two the next week, the second batch would get picked on relentlessly for being smaller. Henpecked is not just a phrase, it's a reality of chicken life, and I can tell you it's more than a little painful. Those beaks are sharp.

So the kids go back and forth on which day we should get our chicks. Should we go for the day they have Americaunas, Barred Rocks, and Speckled Sussex? Or the day they have White Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds, and Andalusians? Should we reserve our chicks? Or just go pick them out? So many decisions. I get the baby chick cage, feeder, and heat lamp out of the shed and dust them off, and away we go to baby chicken land.

This year, Mackenzie got two Barred Rocks (the little black puffballs). They're his favorite kind of chicken - they're good layers, have sweet personalities and are pretty. So now Cluck Norris and Chess A. Beak (or Chessie for short) will join Voodoo and Hera as our resident Barred Rocks.

Asa got an Americauna (they lay the green eggs that are so pretty), and a Golden Sex Link (so named because the sex of the chicks are linked to their color as babies, so you can't accidentally get a rooster, which is important for us city dwellers where roosters are banned). So Mercedes joins Lady Cluck as our Americaunas, and Sunny will be our lone Golden this year.

Of course, in my mind, the primary purpose of all of this are those absolutely delicious golden-orange yoked beautiful bits of eggy heaven that I get to scramble and bake with all year long. There is nothing in this world like a free-ranging farm-fresh egg for taste or nutrition. This photo to the left shows a store-bought "free range" chicken egg (top, paler and runnier), and one of our insect, worm, and grass-fed beauties on the bottom. And I love that I can throw raw eggs in smoothies and never worry about contamination.

Of course, around here the chickens are never just for egg production. They're well-loved members of the family!


Megan said...

I knew I liked you. Chicken farmer here, too. My new goal is to find some French Marans this year. I love my Americaunas, and Barred plymouth rocks. :)

Luke said...

Great post, that is really cool. One of our neighbors has 8 in their backyard and gives us two dozen eggs every few weeks and we look after the chickens when she goes for chemo. I would love to have some myself! You say nothing better than free-range, I like nothing better than free!

Thanks for all the good comments on my oage, I greatly appreciate the info :)