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As we fall deeper into the full of winter, so far it has been mild.
We wake to frost and ice on the windshields and the water dishes for the animals, fog and low cloud layers in the valley behind the house, but mild afternoons, even a bit above normal.
Most of our precipitation has been liquid not solid, though we know that we will see a few snows before spring. This is the time of the year that the seed and hatchery catalogs begin to arrive in the mailbox to peak the anticipation of spring to come. So far I have gotten Territorial seed, Southern Exposure, and Maine Potato Lady catalogs to look for the seed that I want to try that I haven’t previously tried. Two hatchery catalogs have arrived, one going straight into the recycle bin as they do not have the breeds that I want to add. Soon Tractor Supply will have live chicks and ducklings. Though they will also be breeds that I do not want to add to the flock they are adorable to watch.
I am toying with adding to my heritage flock of Buff Orpingtons with some fun birds.
The Buff Orpingtons are a good dual purpose bird, laying generously, nice brown eggs. They make good mother’s and we are hopeful to both increase the flock and have enough cull birds to put some meat in the freezer.
To add interest to the egg basket, there is an Americauna that lays blue eggs, and a young Americauna/Buff Orpington cross that lays small green eggs all very muddy right now as they track mud in after all the rain.
I want more color in the basket, so I’m toying with adding 10 straight run chicks, half Aracaunas and half Cuckoo Marans to increase the green, blue, maybe pink, and chocolate brown colored eggs just for fun. I really don’t want to have to put the mother table in a brooder in the garage and spend 5 weeks raising chicks, knowing that about half of them will be males and will end up in the freezer, but I want the egg color. The Buffy’s will be allowed to hatch chicks and we will keep a few pullets from them to increase that flock that way too. Currently there are only 7 layers, due to some predator loss late summer and two of them are going on 3 years old, so their laying is off and they will likely be replaced, making them stew birds at the end of this summer. I would like to get my flock back up to about a dozen hens and the rooster. With three coops and assorted pens, I suppose I could keep a Cuckoo Maran roo and raise them as well, they are also a dual purpose bird and all could mingle except during the period where I was trying to breed pure chicks. Ideally, there should be at least 10 or 12 hens to a rooster and other than raising for meat, i don’t keep that many at one time.
It is still too cold, especially at night to start buying chicks or seed, but I can sit here cozy in the house and dream.