Friday, October 23, 2015

Congratulations, it's a....

I bought a new flock of laying hens this summer. They arrived in a box via the U.S. mail, little yellow fluffs. They grew and and grew some more, and soon lost their baby down and began developing adult feathers. They went through a rather awkward stage that lasted a while. Just lately I've been looking at them and thinking they are very pretty. I chose a breed I have not had before. They are called Light Brahma's. This is what the hatchery, Murray McMurray has to say about them:

"The Brahmas are a very old breed from Asia, probably originating in India and brought to this country about 1850 by Yankee sailors on their return from trading in Far Eastern ports. Because of its massive size, full feathered shanks and toes, and striking black and white plumage pattern, it has always been one of the most interesting varieties to work with. Brahmas are exceptionally quiet, gentle, and easy to handle. Their small pea comb, great size, and heavy plumage make them almost immune to cold weather. The hens are good layers of brown eggs, especially in winter, and will also set. Baby chicks are creamy white, but some have shades of gray on the back."

I liked the look of them, and the fact that they are tolerant of cold weather is a bonus here in Maine. So I ordered 12 pullets, which would grow up to be 12 laying hens. I did NOT order a rooster. I have not had good luck with roosters and it makes me cranky when an animal that I feed, shelter and care for attacks me. At the time that I ordered these chicks I also ordered some chicks for friends and neighbors that wanted just a few, and didn't make the cut for the minimum order. One friend ordered 2 Barred Rock hens. The hatchery, as it sometimes does, tossed in a few "bonus" chicks. To my horror, one grew to be a Barred Rock cockerel, which would grow to be a rooster. My friend did not want any roosters, and that meant I was stuck with one, and I was not so happy about it.

He grew to be a large, handsome bird,(and so far he has not developed a bad attitude) but he looks very incongruous with the the flock of Brahmas.

With their striking coloring, eagle-ish expressions...

Floofy feet and...

sumptuous petty coats.

So far I really like these birds, and one little part of me was wishing I had bought a rooster so I could breed them and have MORE chickens. Because what do crazy chicken ladies want? MORE CHICKENS! The Brahmas run everywhere they go, so they are a bit hard to observe, but this morning I took time to hang on the gate and just stare at them a bit. I find I've been peering expectantly into the nest box lately, hoping for the first eggs. The girls are just getting to the age where they may begin to lay, and I am anxious to have home raised eggs again. So I gave them a hard look, checking for signs of maturity. They are big, and well feathered. They all look very healthy and pretty. This breed has small combs and wattles, but I was looking to see if they were beginning to turn red. On a young pullet ready to lay, the comb and wattle turn from pink to dark red. I noticed that one bird's comb was turning red. I also noticed it was a good bit bigger than the other birds. And its feet were HUGE! And then it stood still a moment and I realized it's neck and saddle feathers were very different from those of the other birds.

Because... it's a ROOSTER. My little secret wish came true.
Congratulations, Mrs. Conner! It's a BOY!

Now I really need to find a home for this guy...

Because when they figure out they are mature and both boys, the feathers will fly.

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