One young Catholic family on a Journey towards Intentional and Communal Sustainability. One Artist, one full time Mama and two babies, we'll tell you about all our successes, and failures, as we try to make it in our overly Consumeristic society on just the bare necessities.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Chicks (and one Chicken)

List of new characters in Our Live Active Culture:

Val: An 8 month old Buff Transylvanian Naked Neck (sounds salacious, no?). She was procured for free from a family who is thinning their flock a bit. Since getting Val she has survived temperatures as low as 14F and all the while has dutifully supplied a large brown egg 5 out of 6 days. Val was promised to us on Valentine's Day (hence her name) but we picked her up Saturday.

The rest are chicks which we received Tuesday, though they arrived early Monday morning to our friend's house from McMurray Hatchery (a great resource for chicks with incredible service and excellent breeding stock by the way.)

Charlotte finalizing names
Lady: A 5 day old Pearl Leghorn who happens to be Charlotte’s favorite, this coincides well with the fact that she is the prototypical chick: fluffy, cute and most importantly yellow (Charlotte’s favorite color). Eventually she will become white, but Charlotte need not know that yet. I have also been warned by Britt’s brother (who has raised chickens most of his rational life) that she may end up suffering from a bit of a “Queen of the Roost” complex. She is also predicted to be our most prolific layer of large white eggs, so it may be a title well deserved, but only time will tell.

Biscuit: A 5 day old Rhode Island Red who is also generally yellow, but has a blushing of red on her top “coat”. Biscuit is somewhat unmemorable other than the fact that her name was inspired by the story of the Little Red Hen (in Britt’s southern version the hen makes biscuits instead of bread *shrug*) and therefore is one that Charlotte often recalls. She is supposed to grow up to be the largest chicken, in close contention with Lady. I am interested to see how she’ll turn out as Rhode Island Reds are enormously popular chickens because of their strong capacity to produce large brown eggs as well as meat.

Bird's Eye View (hyuck, hyuck)
Betsy: A 5 day old Barred Rock, she is one of two black chicks but since the other has no feathers on its neck she is easy to discern. Betsy is probably the most docile of all the chicks, she still is energetic, but compared to the rest she is markedly more subdued. She will eventually become black and white…checkered (for lack of a better word) which is the very definition of “barred”. Barred Rocks are another popular dual purpose (eggs and meat) breed.

Mango: A 5 day old Buff Araucana, by far the largest chick of the batch, Mango stands nearly a full head taller than her brood mates. She is likely to continue to distinguish herself even after everyone’s height averages out because of her pastel colored eggs. Because the exact tone of the egg shell depends both upon the individual chicken as well as the individual egg we’ll have to wait in anticipation to find out if she’ll lay pink, green or blue eggs. 

And Finally, after much suspense…

Pesto: A 5 day old Black Transylvanian Naked Neck. She was the star of the teaser comic book cover featured in last post. At the end of day 2 (after being shipped from Iowa, and then taken home in a home-made pet crate along with her 4 brood mates from our friend’s house to her new home at an undisclosed location) Pesto looked a lot worse for the wear. She was gasping and lethargic and frankly looked like she would likely die in my hands, let alone survive another day. However, after deciding to leave her be and give her some rest and then having a discussion with Charlotte about the possibility of her death, followed by night-time prayers beseeching St. Brigid (patroness of chickens) to spare Pesto if it be God’s will, Pesto seems to have made a full recovery and is just as chipper and chirpy as her friends. Praise God! 

Other than the fact that it would be sad to lose any of the chicks, Pesto was the one I was most looking forward to, Naked Necks are actually incredibly versatile birds who are great layers, decent meat birds (with the added benefit of having less feathers to pluck when it comes to dressing). However, because of their looks (which I find entertaining rather than offensive) they aren’t as popular as they should be. Maybe that’s part of the allure too, I have a certain penchant for “heirloom” and “unique” livestock and crops (just wait till you hear the list of seeds we ordered…)


  1. So are you guys going to use them for eggs only? Yes?! I'm the stereotypical if I had to kill it then I'd rather be a vegetarian especially after raising them.

  2. Their primary focus is going to be egg production. However, once they get too old and stop laying we'll probably slaughter then for stew meat. But we'll see, thats a couple years off still.

    We are also talking about getting some male chicks and raising them as broilers. We'd slaughter them at about 10 weeks, so the attachment would be less there.

  3. I see! Have fun! Chicks are the best! :-)