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