Charlotte’s Hen House

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Once upon a time, a long long time ago, I was a chicken lover.  I had raised some white meat chicks for 4H as that was a good animal for me to start out with.  I must have been about nine as I think that’s when you can actually take something to the fair to sell in the Livestock Auction.  My chickens who were growing in to young adults were ravaged by an eagle believe it or not, and I had one that lived out of the many I had been raising.  Her name was Chook because that is what she said all the time, just short bursts of, “Chook chook!”  She ended up being a very confused chicken because at one moment she thought she was a dog, slept with our fat lady lab cross, Libby, and then the next moment was following our ducks down to the pond.  I remember at one point I had to try and save her from herself when she finally got up the guts to jump in.  A chicken, without webbed feet and wet feathers does not make for good water fowl.  Chook finally died of heat stroke or a heart attack I think.  We found her under our porch in the middle of summer, she was very large and very meaty by that time so I don’t think she was really bred to last very long but I cried and cried.  I loved that silly chicken.

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At some point after Chook’s death, I decided that chickens were dirty, weird, and a pain in the rear.  It must have been my teenage years when you’re pretty much confused about a lot of things in life and tend to make hasty decisions based on… well, nothing.  So I became “anti-chicken.”  My mother-in-law, Charlotte, however is a bonified, dyed in the wool… err… feathers, chicken lover.  She lives and breathes the silly birds and gets an amazing amount of joy from them.  Especially this new batch of loving Rhodies and Barred Rocks.  They are really sweet hens and as you can see, aren’t very shy.  Yes, I had my telephoto lens on the camera but this was as close as my camera could shoot, if this hen were any closer she’d have been able to peck at the camera.

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So Charlotte provides us with our eggs and really half of our church too.  Her new hens are producing wonderfully even as the days are shorter and the temperature is cooler.  But the other night as Hubby was doing dishes (!) he says, “We need chickens.”  Whoa!  Where did that come from?  As you may have guessed, he was throwing out some left over food.  Yeah, we could take the scraps to Charlotte’s house but after the day is done, the kid is in my hair, the house unruly even after I cleaned it, and various other things to do around here… I’m not about to worry about delivering scraps to a bunch of not-so-needy chickens.

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But with this new thought implanted in my head by Hubby, I feel the old chicken-loving-juices start to come back.  Then a visit with Charlotte’s chickens this afternoon, well, they were quite fun to shoot (with a camera, not a shotgun).  They were all so personable and inviting, checking me out and wondering what that black thing was I was holding up to my face.  Then Ronnie the stunning rooster strolled on past and he just glowed in the sunlight.  What a gorgeous guy he is!  Does anyone have any idea what he is?

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Charlotte received him in her mail order with the Rhodies and Barred Rocks as a special bird from McMurray Hatchery.  He has since grown in to this beautiful bird and Hubby was admiring his neck feathers the other night saying how nice they would be for fly tying.  I’d have to agree, they’re perfect.

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Anyway, being the goofy gal that I am, I am not ever satisfied with your run of the mill breeds, obviously by my taste in Jacob sheep and Kiger Mustangs, I like to have rare breeds that aren’t around in everybody’s pastures all the time.  Rhodies and Barred Rocks, though very productive in their egg laying do not blow up my skirt.  I want something different, something unusual.  This little lady above is more my type.  She’s a banty of some sort I think, being as small as she is but she has so much character and you can spot her in the group.  She’s beautiful, and different.  To Charlotte, she’s beautiful but not a very big asset to her egg producing hen house.  Hubby has the same sort of idea on birds, they should be egg layers but I said that I didn’t want boring ol’ egg layers, I wanted something neat.  He said, “Fine, get a neat egg layer.”  So that’s why I’m posting, asking all of my smart chicken loving friends to point me in the right direction.  What breed is interesting, egg producing, hardy and not flighty?  Can you give me some suggestions?

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Did I mention that Charlotte has three roosters and they’re all sweet?!  Is that possible?  Being a total rooster hater, I’ve never seen such sweet roosters in one place.  Most of the ones I know are horribly mean and they’ll chase you down for a challenge and an attack.  This is the back side of Frank, I named Frank and frankly (pun intended) I think it fits perfectly.  I think this is all he wanted me to see of him, his backside sauntering off.

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“Hiya Frank!  Where ya goin’?  Frank?  Frank!  Frank you chicken!”  Yeah, good one Joan.

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Her third one is this little feather footed friend.  His name is Tony, and I named him too.  I named him before I knew that “Tonys” came in all different sizes and shapes.  Before I met Shannon’s Tony, all of them that I’ve met are short.  So, thus the short banty named Tony.  Tony’s wife was named Thelma, and she was the most beautiful little feather footed banty you ever saw.  Her brown feathers were lined in thick black so that she looked like she wore a petty coat.  She was beautiful but went on to chicken heaven a few years back from unknown causes.  He’s now a widower who woos the ladies of Charlotte’s Hen House when he gets the sneaking chance away from Frank and Ronnie’s eyes.

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So what do you suggest for my picky chicken requirements?  I am wondering about Michelle at Boulderneigh’s hen who lays the chocolate chip eggs?  I bet Lisa at Laughing Orca Ranch has some suggestions.  Anyone else?

I hope you enjoyed the girls and boys of Charlotte’s Hen House.

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About mudranch

I live in the country, I love to take photos, I'm a shepherdess, I adore my husband and daughter, I walk in the will of Christ.

Posted on November 20, 2008, in Chickens, Family, Me. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. The girl who lays the chocolate eggs (and, I might add, the BIGGEST eggs) is Welsie the Welsummer. She came to me rather unsocialized, but is no longer flighty. I think she is a pretty hen, with many shades of brown (from pinkish to gold) on her. But my favorites by far are the Easter Eggers. VERY dependable layers (to make hubby happy), calm birds that come in a rainbow of colors (from nearly white to nearly black and shades of grey, buff and brown, too!) and lay fun, colored eggs as well. I really like their floofy cheeks and grey-black legs, too. As a kid I had a pair of banties I loved; very intelligent and personal birds. Now, though, I like full-sized eggs. Can’t wait to see what you get! Wish we’d gotten ours YEARS ago; they are so enjoyable!

  2. I think your unknown Roo is a Blue Laced Red Wyandotte. All of the chickens in your pics are beautiful. How did you get your husband to say those magic words? I’ve been working on my husband to say yes for two years now. My birds of choice are Cuckoo Maran, Barnevelder, Black Australorp, and Light Brahmas but I have heard a lot of good things about the Americanas also. Next spring I will place my order with Ideal Poultry. You might want to look at their site. You will have to let us know what you end up getting and which ones you like the best. Have fun with them.

  3. I too have some Welsommers and they do lay beautiful eggs, but to be honest, they quit on me late summer when they molted and have not started back laying yet (!). My three Americauanas are VERY entertaining and have put the “adventure” back into the Adventure Chickens and they are keeping us in eggs-o-plenty. There are so many interesting breeds of chickens – more fun shopping for you!

  4. Thanks for the info ladies! I did a little more research (will do more tomorrow… I’m a research gal), and have actually pretty much nailed down Americaunas. I’ve read reviews on how wonderful they are. I know that when my MIL had a few, I loved having those colored eggs in my carton! I’ll be sure and let you know what I get… I’m definitely waiting for spring though. 😉

  5. I agree with shadow mountain jacobs that the rooster is a blue laced red wyandotte and I love all of the wyandottes. They tend to be rather docile as well. Our Americaunas were quite the trouble makers 🙂 Their eggs are cool though! I LOVE my banties. They are quite the characters and you can have twice as many 🙂 I say go for one of each and have a very fun group of chickens!

  6. I can’t recommend Ideal Poultry highly enough. They are great people who really care about their chicks. They have a great selection AND you can specify pullets or males on most breeds.

    I have several of the Ameraucanas and are really pleased with them. Ideal sends a nice assortment so they don’t all look exactly alike. Mine lay everything from green to blue to a deep olive green. And they are very dependable, too.

    I also have several (too many) of the Cuckoo Marans. They are good, too, and I like their squat little bodies. Their eggs range from tan to pale terra cotta to dark terra cotta to chocolate brown. They are also the ones who are laying the pale orange eggs with dark brown speckles on them. I’m going to be giving away some of the Marans this spring as I want to bring in some more chicks, so I’ve got to figure out a way to tell who is laying what color.

    There’s also one cream brabanter who is a hoot to watch. It says she should lay pale tinted eggs, so maybe she’s the one giving us the pale pink? Or maybe she’s just laying pale brown. Who knows. Miss Brooks is fun enough to keep around no matter what color eggs she lays.

    To round it out, there’s a pair of Astralorps, a pair of dark Brahmas, and a pair of Golden Lace Cochins. I’m not too keen on the Astralorps or the Brahmas, but hubby loves the look of the Cochins.

    I’m hoping to thin my flock a bit this spring–one of the neighbor boys wants to start a little flock so some will go to him and the rest I’ll just find good chickie homes for. I’m hoping to add some more Ameraucanas, maybe a couple of Welsommers, and a couple more I haven’t decided on yet.

    I really would like something that would lay these VERY dark olive eggs:

  7. Sorry, the website for the dark olive eggs messed up. Here it is:http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=49598

    Definitely worth a visit–have never even imagined eggs that color!

  8. Hi Joan..

    Lovely pictures of the chickens, they are all gorgeous!

    I have 3 Pekin Bantams 2 of which are black and the other is partridge, they are of the fluffy feet variety, very friendly and the best wee chickens i’ve ever had, I bought them as 6wk old chicks back in the summer and one of them (Gloria) just starting to come into lay now… the eggs are tiny, just a perfect size for a wee girl to have for her breakfast! Also a perfect size for annie to play with 🙂

    I must really get some pictures of them onto my blog… the black pekins have a gorgeous bottle green colouring as the sunlight hits their feathers

    How many were you planning on keeping… we have 5 altogether now 2 normal sized, being a light sussex and the other is a cross of somekind, but has a look of a welsommer about her..

    Looking forward to seeing your new chooks soon .. take care

  9. Let’s see, I have Ameraucanas, Black Australorps, Welsummers (yes, I am responsible for the “unsocialized Welsie that Michelle has):), Barred Rocks, Barnvelders, and Gold and Silver laced Wyandottes. I’m also one of those that likes more unusual breeds, though the Barred Rocks are good layers. Also, Buff Orpingtons (which I have had in the past) tend to lay through the winter. I don’t like to put my chickens under lights (though I’ve done that in the past too) as I think they deserve a break, even though I hate having to buy eggs. I really like my Barnvelders and Welsummers….both supposed to lay the dark eggs, although I haven’t seen any yet. They are beautiful birds. My Wyandottes tend to be more friendly and they are beautiful and good layer too. And I adore the Ameraucanas, for their looks and different color eggs. There! I’m not much help am I? Get the ones that appeal to you visually, for that extra pleasure. 🙂

  10. Hey Joan. so glad to see you might get chickens again! We have a wyandotte and a couple americanas…a barred rock, an austrolorp and…a bantam frizzle cochin…which looks like an upside down dust mop, or a feather boa with feet…take your pick. she is our best layer. the americaunas, while cool, are not the best layers…the barred rock was the best. too bad a fox ate her. the wyandotte is pretty good too…the banty is really sweet, though the other ladies sometimes pick on her…I want more! keep us posted! Lily will be pysched.

  11. I think Tony looks like an Ameracauna bantam. Just know that bantam rooster and full-sized hen equals no fertile eggs…fyi. We love our hens too and they are getting old. Bantam hens are the absolute best when it comes to friendliness and personality, but it taks a lot of banty eggs to make an omelet!

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