Thursday, October 1, 2009

Meet the Wheaties

My flock is finally complete! Yesterday I visited a mixed flock that was being sold - every last one - by a woman outside of Tenino, and came home with three new ladies! They are a wheaten color, mixes of whites, grays, taupe, brown and red (thus the nickname "The Wheaties"). They're Easter Egger mixes, meaning somewhere in their lineage are mothers who laid blue or green eggs and had cheek feathers that stuck out. These are mixes because for one I have no idea what the parents looked like, having been given away some time ago, and secondly because about 40% of the entire flock had feathered legs, which is not an Easter Egger trait. The legs harken to a Brahma or perhaps Cochin parent somewhere in there. One of my new ladies was a mama, having set and hatched out six beautiful chicks. The other two are the same age; supposedly they were hatched late last year but all three (in fact most of the flock wearing the same leg bands) are fairly small. Maybe a parent in there had some Bantam - the mini breeds.

The new ladies are in quarantine in the former Boy Jail (the boys were taken to the auction in Chehalis on Saturday to spare Paul and me the duty of having to butcher, which we were unprepared to do). I want to be sure they are healthy AND don't have scaly leg mites, which four of the six much-older Rhode Island Red hens at the same farm seemed to have. Each new girl got her legs slathered with Vaseline on her way from cat carrier to Boy Jail and I will treat them every few days with the same (the thought being one could smother mites if they exist). In a week or so I'll smuggle them into the barn coop under the cover of darkness, so they can have a chance to sleep near their new coop-mates before everyone wakes up and freaks out about the new residents.

Provided all three of the Wheaties end up healthy (and none of my still sexless Blue Laced Red Wyandotte chicks are boys), the flock will contain 9 hens to one rooster...a nice egg-producing number!

In other chicken news, my still-nameless rooster has nearly mastered his crow and sounds much more grown up...and is attempting to mate with one of the pullets, much to her dismay. This guy is quite precocious, as roosters aren't supposedly sexually mature until 24-25 weeks of age, and my little flock is only 16-weeks old! He apparently didn't get the memo. However, as he practices his voice multiple times per day he has caught the attention of our previous predator, the coyote, who came waltzing in with a crooked, limpy gait, along the north fenceline this morning at 7:30, listened awhile, and then ran off again. Bad news for the chickens...they will not be free-ranging unattended...or maybe at all. If that is the case, we'll need to increase the size of the outdoor run to give the kiddos plenty of room to scratch around.


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