Posts Tagged ‘Faverolles’

Chick Adoption at the Crack of Dawn

Last night my two week old chicks came home for the first time and either in a stroke of brilliance or madness I decided to see if our broody Silkie would adopt the chicks. So here I am at the crack of dawn checking the early results of the adoption experiment. And? So far so good. The broody and her trio are still in the nesting box with her wings puffed out to protect them.  They only poked their heads out after I poked around our #1 Mommy.

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Because these are older chicks, I placed a small waterer and crumbles inside the box, which they all eagerly accepted. The other chickens are curious, but giving them space.  The idea of food in the nesting box prompted a few investigations, but I shoed the onlookers away and all is back to status quo.  The pictures are bit blurry, but then again, so am I at 5:00am.

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Will a Broody Hen Adopt Chicks? Yes!

We’ve had a broody Silkie since mid May. In The Broody Experiments, we tried our best to get her “unbroody,” but without success.  This chicken was broodily determined. Sigh and wait.

Then my chicks arrived today. They were incubated by a nice class of students at a local school. Disappointingly, we only had 3 out of 24 eggs hatch: 2 Salmon Faverolles and 1 Belgian Bearded D’Anvers. Sounds like a perfect size clutch for a broody bantam. Hmm. I conveniently happen to have an inconveniently broody bantam.

Now the question… will our broody hen adopt the chicks? Internet research showed mixed results. Fortunately, most of out conditions are right: The hen has been broody for over 21 days and she is very gentle and good-natured.

The plan: Towards dusk, I introduced them one at a time, approximately 45 minutes apart. I also included an egg shell with the first introduction that my child serendipitously broke while collecting this afternoon. Perhaps it is total nonsense, but I read that the shell helps.

The initial results: Did I say she was good natured? I poked around to take a few nosy pictures of the progress and she hissed and puffed up at me! Hurrah! That’s a first for her and great sign those mothering instincts are kicking into high gear. As of dusk tonight, the chicks seem to be doing fine under #1 adopted mum.

The next steps: Over the next few days, I’ll be watching our new family like that @#*$! red-tailed hawk circling my house. Because these are waaay over day-old (nearly two weeks!), I’m going to have to make sure they are getting enough food and water since they don’t have that yolk sac insurance.

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My First Poultry Show: Courtesy of the Sussex County Poultry Fanciers

Today I was inititated into the wild world of the poultry show circuit.  It reminded me of “Best in Show,” but the participants infinitely more down to earth.  We drove over the border to the New Jersey State Fair Grounds for the day and reveled in all things chicken.

Wow!  The number and variety of birds was astonding.  There had to be well over a thousand entries.  The best headed to the Champions Row.

There were also quite a selection of birds for sale.  Needless to say, I was sorely tempted, but just kept reminding myself of my 24 hatching eggs currently in the incubator.

I also saw several gorgeous Faverolles hens.  I had really hoped to see a Faverolles rooster up close, but talking with owners and fellow fanciers just confirmed that we made the right decision in selecting the Faverolles as the basis of our self-perpetuating heritage flock.  Who knows?  Maybe my birds will be in the show next year?

There were many other events at the fairgrounds today including a Pet Expo, a Horse Show, fishing in the pond, and Farmers’ Market. The market was held in a scenic barn.

Since I missed our weekly market, I made a few purchases that would last the ride home from New Jersey including local wine and bread from Hopewell Valley Vineyards and cheese from Springhouse Creamery.  What a great day thanks to the folks with the Sussex County Poultry Fanciers.  If you’ve never been to a show, please go.  It’s easy to find, just follow the crowing!

Incubation Day #1

Hurrah! The Faverolles and assorted bantams have arrived! The next 21 days will see them gently rotating at 100F in a third grade classroom at a local school. I heard that the children are very excited, but then again, so am I! Here they are getting settled in their new home.

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There are 12 Faverolles eggs that will be the start of my breeding flock. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy lists this breed as “threatened” and we hope to help in our small way. I purchased the bantams because I thought the kids would get a kick out of the tiny eggs and chicks. It was hatchery’s choice and they chose: 6 Quail Belgian Bearded D’Anvers, 2 Porcelain Belgian Bearded D’Uccles, 2 Golden Sebrights, and 2 Silver Sebrights.

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We’ll keep you updated with what hatches. If you want to see the story behind the eggs, visit our Letters to Chickens post.

Welcome Your Sisters and Brothers

Dear Chickens,

Congratulations, my dear girls, for you are going to be big sisters!  You must feel so grown up.  The fertile hatching eggs of our newest flock members arrived in the mail yesterday.   They were snuggly wrapped in paper towels and expertly cushioned for the journey. My lovely chickens, do you remember being shipped as day-old chicks?  I remember your arrival.  You were curious and pecking at every new thing, much like you do now.

Let me tell you about your new sisters and brothers.  The twelve Faverolles eggs came as promised as did a hatchery selection of twelve bantams:  6 Quail Belgian Bearded D’Anvers, 2 Porcelain Belgian Bearded D’Uccles, 2 Golden Sebrights, and 2 Silver Sebrights.  I admit I had a momentary twang of disappointment.  These were not the breeds I was hoping for!  Where were the Silkies with their funny feather poofs? The Barnvelders with eggs the color of dark chocolate? Why did I have to get these birds out of all the possible breeds that the hatchery carried?  Mommy was sad because she had read that the pretty Sebrights can be standoffish and flighty; Quail D’Anvers sweet, but plain.  Does this mean I’m a bad mommy?  Then I thought that perhaps this was a cosmic lesson in acceptance and love.  I pushed that disappointment away and made a promise:  I am your mommy and I will love you no matter what.

Daddy was a little distressed by the twenty-four new eggs now that they have arrived.  He said that was a lot of chickens.  I think he is concerned that mommy won’t have the courage to chop off their heads and eat them.  Gosh, I guess when I write it like that it does seem a little drastic.  No wonder daddy is uneasy, but I promise to be brave and follow through in my decision to participate in the rooster culling necessary to a small heritage flock.

My darling girls, I know you are curious to meet our new family members.  They will be home with us soon enough.  I delivered your new sisters and brothers to that nice teacher and his class this morning.  They will incubate them for 21 days and welcome them with love and affection into this world.  I hope the children enjoy learning about chickens and farming and the miracles that are you.  I hope they feel special because they are contributing to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy’s mission to rescue beautiful breeds from extinction.  I find helping is a dualistic action:  Simultaneously altruistic and selfish.  That feeling that you receive more than you give.  Mommy is very grateful to you, dear chickens, for all that you give in exchange for simple grain and grass.

Love,

Mommy

 

A Nudge From the Universe

Dear Chickens,

I’m writing today as a follow up to our discussion in the garden this afternoon.  It was rather complicated and one-sided; I know your chicken brains were too busy eating unearthed grubs and other delicious bugs as I pulled weeds to pay much attention.  If you do remember, our family was considering raising an endangered heritage breed to help preserve these disappearing and dear animals.  “Good idea,” I wanted to hear you bok-bok while following me for more weedy roots, but you were silent.  So I told you about the catch.  “The catch?” you must have thought.  Then I told you how with raising a self-perpetuating flock, comes the need for culling.  After all, too many roosters will hurt each other and isn’t the point to save your kin hurt in factory farms?  Yet, could I purposely take the life of another living creature that comes to me for nourishment and protection?  Especially one that my child chases among the grass and herbs and apple trees?  Could I?  We’ve been agonizing about this for months and you’ve haven’t offered much advice, allowing us to make this important decision in our own time.

This letter, dear chickens, is to tell you we’ve come to a decision. I think it may have been a small nudge from the universe (although I’m not sure I believe in such things); circumstances coming together and wistful me finding meaning and purpose.  Knowing my interest, a teacher at a local school asked if I could adopt their chicks and even choose their eggs, but I needed to let him know by today.  Then another little nudge:  Being torn between, Dorking, Faverolles, and Java breeds, a search of reputable breeders I know yielded only Faverolles hatching eggs ready in the given time frame.  I had already been leaning towards that breed since its roosters are reputedly the gentlest and quietest.  That is, if roosters are ever quiet.  The choice was made for me.

Now the order has been placed.  Two dozen fertile eggs arrive next week.  They hatch three weeks after that.  Modern markets slaughter their Cornish Crosses at 6 weeks old.  These new additions will not receive names as you have because how could I then do what has been required of farmwives throughout time?  I hope you will be nice to them and integrate them with love, but I suppose that would be asking too much of your chicken hardwiring.  So within three months we engage in what Barbara Kingsolver called a real game of Survivor were only the chickens that meet the American Livestock Breed Conservancy’s criteria will make it to breed another year.  So in the words of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games, “May the odds be ever in your favor” because the nicest, quietest rooster will win.

I hope it will not upset you, my omnivorous chickens, that we did not choose the vegetarian option.  I will do everything in my power to be compassionate and humane.  You deserve such dignity and more for all your kin have done for us.   You and I have have a special bond, my trusty laying flock.  A reader commented that every egg is a little miracle and I have to agree.  Thank you for all that you have given and taught our family.

Now the scary part… has anyone done this before?  I know, I know:  People have done this throughout time, but just not in my sanitized suburban setting.  Ahh!  I really need help!

Love,

Mommy

Ps.  I really think Alice Walker was onto something with this whole writing to chickens.

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