Wow, Christmas has come and gone already, all that preparation and it is over. Hopefully everyone had a great Christmas, our little family here had a great day, the kids were pretty happy with everything they got. A couple of our pullets surprised us with their first eggs on Christmas morning, including one of my new Marans, beautiful chocolate colour.
I got a new incubator, I ordered it through Berry Hill out of Ontario and it holds up to 70 eggs, so I am pretty excited about the upcoming season. The website is updated and we now have a Facebook page, so we are ready to get the 2017 season started!
I would like to dedicate the next few posts to introducing you to my flock. I’ll start with my Black Ameraucanas.
Let me introduce my breeding rooster, Charlie.
Charlie was the first chicken we got, and he is the sole reason for Down by the Bay Backyard Poultry. Over the past 2 years I have witnessed him do incredible things. He became my pet and I would try to give him treats only to watch him cluck away, calling to his hens to come over, then he’d use his beak to show them the treats and let them eat it. One day I found him in the nesting boxes, he’d get in, walk in circles like a dog would before they sit comfortably down, sit, then out of the box, then back in, all the time chatting away loudly. I watched him, trying to figure out what the heck he was doing. By this time, all the Ameraucana pullets had gathered around, then one of the pullets got in the box with him and I understood, he was showing the pullets the nesting boxes. As the pullets grew older they began to bicker with each, sometimes it would get a bit physical, Charlie would run over and using his wing he would separate the 2 fighting hens then give them each a good rap on the head as if to say “smarten up!”. I had a few other roosters in our first year from the chicks we had raised, so when I decided to breed, I put Charlie in a breeding pen with a few hens. I watched my rooster change from that move. He began to slouch, no longer standing proud, he became more agitated and would kick me when I came into the breeding pen and I thought, wow, I think he is depressed. I no longer trusted him and worried about him attacking me if I let him back out into the run, so he remained in the breeding pen in the coop until additional pens were built outside. Cletus, who is a giant marshmallow took over the coop’s run and we finally moved Charlie out to a new breeding pen with some hens. Long story short, add some new cockerels to the big run with a marshmallow rooster named Cletus and you have complete chaos. The only rooster who could bring law and order back to the main run was Charlie. I swapped Charlie and Cletus and in quick order Charlie had all those cockerels behaving themselves, or he’d kick their asses! He stood prouder and became himself again and I learned that even Chickens experience sadness, happiness, disappointment and pride. He is quiet, yet unyielding, he is kind, yet stern and he demands respect, I wish I could be more like him.
Loretta: She is the boss lady and she adores Charlie. She follows Charlie around like a puppy and grooms his beard for him, he is the only chicken she is nice to. If another hen comes near her, she lashes out with a quick peck and screech. She has been known to literally throw hens off of the top roost if they dare try to perch near her. She actually struts around with her wings slightly out, like some tough guy would. She doesn’t like to be held and will occasionally nip at you if you even think about reaching out to her for an affectionate human squeeze.
Harriot: She is the opposite of Loretta, she is and always has been a sweet lady. She’ll hang around you when you’re in the coop working and she’ll look up at you with her cute little face and it is impossible to resist picking her up for a hug, and she loves it. She also loves Charlie and is very loyal to him, giving other roosters a karate kick if they get the wrong idea.
Hilda: She is a big ol gal who takes crap from no one, she is the only one who is able to sit near Loretta, simply because she just doesn’t care and knows she is bigger than her. She will tolerate her human, but prefers to be where the human is not. I have seen her beat the daylights out of an over eager cockerel when he thought he’d have a go at her. She’s a neat Chicken who could inspire many story lines.
Tilly: Tilly is quiet and stealth, I rarely see her, she goes about her day minding her own business and staying out of everyone’s way. She is so good at it that she is able to get away with a lot, as far as the pecking order goes. She’ll find a spot on the roost away from the others so they don’t bug her, she is probably the smartest one of the bunch.
Mabel: Mabel likes to test the waters a bit, she is not afraid to sit up next to a hen who is ranked above her. She’ll tolerate some pecks on the head and back, almost as if she is hoping it will end soon and they’ll leave her be, sitting pretty on some good roost real estate. She is a fiesty low ranking hen with ambition, who is not afraid to throw a bit of shade at anyone questioning her potential.
Those are my Ameraucana breeding birds for 2017.