Saturday, May 14, 2011

NQR: our pirate chickens

I might have mentioned that, although we lived smack dab in the middle of suburbia, we have a large lot ... almost an acre of flat land.  It's mostly undeveloped, as Mr. Pirate & I just aren't the landscaping type.  Landscaping requires constant attention and we'd, quite frankly, be doing other things.

There aren't restrictions as to backyard chickens, except for the number of roosters.  Mr. Pirate likes chickens.  I tolerate them because Mr. Pirate likes them.  In the beginning, they were something "educational for the children".  Yeah, right.  ::sigh:: 

Well, the children are all grown up now and we still have chickens, so it's *really* Mr. Pirate who likes the chickens. :-)  He would have stuck to boring white Leghorns and Rhode Island Reds, but if we were going to have chickens, I wanted something interesting to look at.  :-)

This is our current flock ... we have 22 hens and 1 rooster.  He was a mistake because the chicks we got weren't able to be sexed ... you got what you got.  :-)   The flock is a blend of an old flock and the new chickens.  I suspect that the older hens aren't laying too much, but the younger hens make up for it.  If they were all laying, we'd be getting, on average, 22 eggs a day.  Oh. My. Gosh.  There's just no way we could eat all those eggs!  As it is, we generally speaking, get between 8-14 eggs a day.  And THAT is more than we need. 

Thankfully, we have neighbors who buy our excess eggs.  And our daughters take some back to their apartments.  Which still leaves a LOT of eggs for Mr. Pirate & myself.

When we got the newest chickies (last Spring), I knew which breeds I was getting because the feed store thoughtfully segregated the breeds.  But by the time we got home, all the name tags had been removed by those stupid chickens.

Yes, I am just kidding about the name tags.  :-)

Rhode Island Red
Barred Rock
Mostly, I can remember which breeds we have because they are different from each other.  We have some of the more "standard" chickens: Barred Rock and Rhode Island Red. 

But, thanks to me and our Dear Daughters, we also have some ::cough::  ::cough::  "novelty" breeds: Polish, Welsummer, Lakenvelder, Barnvelder, Americauna, Marans, Orpington, Astrolorps, Black Jersey Giants.

Only a few have names at this point.  When the girls were little, they were very prompt to name every single chicken because "if they don't have a name, they'll get eaten!".  These days, the chickens get names as one is suggested to us.

For example: the Polish.  ::giggle::  they really are such silly looking birds. :-)   The original Polish chickie that we got had a cute little yellow cotton ball top knot.  Dang, if he didn't look just like Dennis Rodman!  So, we called it "Dennis".  Turned out that Dennis was a hen, so she was re-christened "Denise".  And since we had a Denise, the other chickie had to be DaNephew.  :-)

These days, when we do have white crested Polish chickens, *one* of them is always named Denise (DaNiece).  The others are called .. as circumstances dictate ... DeNephew, DaMoose, Doofus, or Nutsy.   The rooster?  Heck, there's only ONE name you could POSSIBLY call a Crested Polish ... Einstein. :-)  :-)

Golden Lakenvelder (I think)
The chicken I *think* is a Lakenvelder (remember .. they took their name tags off, so how I am supposed to remember who is who???) is the flightiest little chicken we've ever had.  If she had nine lives, she would have used up 15 of them.  :-)  We call her Roadrunner because she looks *exactly* like the cartoon character, as she runs for her life!

The Barred Rocks (we have 2 of them) are the Old Biddies.  They are from the older flock and they tend to be very, very bossy.  There's a funny story that shows how one's mind works.  When we first got these chickens, I hadn't seen their breed in print.  Mr. Pirate just said they were Barred Rocks.  OK then .. how interesting .. a chicken named for Shakespeare.  :-)   How the heck did I make that connection?  Well, Shakespeare is known as the Bard (storyteller).  Bard and barred are pronounced exactly the same!  I never thought to associate our Barred Rock chickens with their striped feathers .. which is where the "barred" comes from.  Barred = striped.

Buff Orpington
The Buff Orpington is called the Raptor.  Why?  Well, when she was a chickie, she'd look at you EXACTLY like the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park.  It was scarey. :-)  

The black Astrolorp is an Australian breed that comes from the Orpington stock .. and sure enough, our black Astrolorp looks just like the Raptor, except it's black.

We have 2 other black chickens .. the Black Jersey Giants.  Interestingly, they are called Black, not because of their color, but because they were developed by the Black Brothers, who lived in New Jersery.  They were looking to develop a larger breed. 

How do I tell the Orpington/Astrolorps from the Black Jersey Giants?  Well, the Orpington/Astrolorps have *very* *fluffy* butts.  :-)

other Americauna
The Americaunas .. which could be true Americaunas .. or they could be just mutt "Easter eggers" .. I don't know.  The store sold them as Americaunas.  Frankly, I don't much care.  We have 2 of them, each differently colored from the other.  What matters is that they both lay green shelled eggs.  :-)

our broody Marans
And then there's the Marans.  She looks VERY much like a Barred Rock, but upon close inspection, her feathers look somewhat more "blurred".  Currently, she's being a broody hen.  She thinks she'd like to be maternal and will sit on anyone's eggs.  We gather the eggs everyday and don't let her sit on them to hatch.  But that doesn't bother her .. she just sits anyway.  She becomes very disgruntled with me when I fuss around under her feathers to get the eggs. :-)

Our chickens have a nice chicken coop, with 6 roosting bars and a nesting box that will comfortably hold 6 hens PLUS 4 buckets (sitting on their sides) below the nest boxes to provide space for 4 more hens to lay eggs.  Turns out that the hens don't care to have individual nesting places .. they prefer to 'hot bunk' a spot.  Somehow they all decide that a particular spot is THE SPOT OF ALL SPOTS to lay eggs and EVERYONE wants to lay eggs there.  That's why the Marans hen is able to sit on 6 eggs at a time!

Barnvelder (I think)
They have a large chicken yard that is fenced in.  They are able to come and go in and out of the chicken coop as they wish.  Around 1-1/2 hours before sundown, we open up the gate tot he chicken yard to let them out onto the lawn and undeveloped areas.  This lets them be a free range chicken for a while.  :-)

I'd like to think we have very contented chickens.  Who are also very stupid.  :-)  :-)


  1. You called Einstein a mistake! You're going to give him a complex!

  2. No, Einstein is very simple. Eat, sleep, make moves on the ladies. Life is simple for Einstein; no complexities at all. :-)