I know you all were busy waiting for the end of the world as we know it… but I was celebrating Christmas, Easter and 10 birthdays all at once!!!
I GOT MY CHICKENS!!!!!!
Oh yes and I am one happy happy happppppy gal! What a story!!!
Luna woke me up at 5:40 AM, meowing outside my bedroom window. It was only 50 minutes before I wanted to wake up. And then, of course, all the dogs wanted to go out. Shesh. I couldn’t get back to sleep, I was just so excited, so I decided to putz a bit, have a bowl of cereal and wait for the girls to get up at 6:30. Well, Jessy was getting up but Maggie decided she wanted to sleep!!! Oh my gosh… of course, she totally regrets this decision, but we’ll go again, I’m sure to the auction some other Saturday, maybe even next Saturday, it was so much fun!
We got there a bit too early. Apparently registration is about a 5 minute process and they didn’t sell poultry until 10 AM! Haha… Jessy gave me an evil eye that only old teenager girls can do… she could have slept in another 2 hours at LEAST. But we made the best of it and wandered about, looking at the rummage sale booths and the parkinglot flea market and then all the auction lots of missellaeous stuff. It was pretty cool, and I wish I had about 5 times the money I had for my hens, because there were some gorgious plants and trees and this beautiful church pew that would have looked SOOOO stunning in our parlor! But, today’s mission was CHICKENS… and I was not swayed from that task at hand!
Some stunning deep purple lilacs… I could have bought like ten of them for around the estate! We are noticeably lacking in lilacs here! I brought four with me from the Moby, but I’m not sure they will bloom this year. They are still pretty young.
It was fascinating to watch the auctioneers… they would decide if you could buy a choice item off a lot, or just buy the whole lot depending on the interest. It took a bit to get the hang of it, but in the end, we were getting good at understanding their song.
I’ve been to auctions before, and love to use eBay for their auction processes, but it’s still a little different every where you go. There is a lingo and dialect for each auction as to how they do things. It’s always best to step back a bit and watch a few before you jump in there! I found out quickly that for poultry, for example, you bid on the price PER bird in the cage, not the whole cage and what it contains. So a cage with 4 birds that goes for $4, is really $16 total. You can get into trouble quick with the boxes of 20 and 30 chicks!!!
There was a beautiful young peacock in this cage and it was tempting to bring him home as well. But I don’t know a lot about them and I have heard they are pretty noisey and such. I think more reading up on these beautiful birds will be in order, first.
While we were waiting for the auctions to begin, there was a lady selling a box of mixed chicks, all sorts of breeds. This young girl came over and was identifying all the birds, much to our surprise and she was spot on the money! Even the vendor lady was impressed, she was really good.
We watched some little goatie auctions and it was appealing, however, I know we’re not ready for anything too big at the moment. Once step at a time. We’ll have plenty of time to get mire into the whole livestock trap! HAHAHA… We’re starting one or two species at a time. And EASY stuff!
I was kind of surprised to see all the types of chickens there. Some of the birds didn’t look super great, and some I’m sure were old and spent birds. I have done a lot of reading and saw the tell tale signs of worn out hens. You look at their feet and their wattles, combs and ear lobes. If they are pale and just not very vibrant, you have a fairly older bird, or a sick bird. Clipped beaks and misshapen feet are a sign of worn out factory birds. I hear they are sold by the huge numbers and then folks will try and auction them off at places. There was over 100 red sex link birds in numerous tight cage packs that a couple bought for like nuthing. He also was bidding on a lot of other birds and in the end paid only 75 bucks for all his wins. Several people got some ridiculous deals.. a box of chicks for 25 cents a chick! Ring neck pheasant chicks for 75 cents… just crazy! I was looking in the McMurray catalog the night before and pheasants were like 12 and 15 bucks a CHICK!!!
Well, there were a couple lots that I was very interested in. You see, I wanted to get a nice assortment of hens, a little color and variety, so that we could name them and ID them, etc. Just sort of have a nice group. I thought, well, 4 would be nice. Maybe 6. Jessy was pretty much trying to get to stay with 4. She’s not really thrilled about the hens. She loves fresh eggs, she will admit, she hates the eggs we have had the last 3 weeks. But she’s not excited about their free range time in the afternoons. But since Jessy is much more the house frau of us three, I think she’ll just avoid the back pastures in the afternoon! But I have to say, she was doing really well, and stuck around in the sale barn with me and was getting pretty good at picking out the birds. She even found several good deals that we might have bid on, if I didn’t win the first batch.
However, what really struck me was a cage with a trio of blue copper Marans!!!!! A roo and his two ladies!!! I could not believe it. They are the birds that we really want to raise. I’m very attracted to them for some reason, and I just love the idea that the Maran chicks, hens and eggs are very desirable. If Martha Stewart and James Bond approve, well, I think they will be a good choice for us. The funny thing is… I was talking with the girls and I had this whole breeding program figured out. I wanted to have some Maran hens and the only roo I wanted was a Maran rooster! That way anything we hatched out would be full blood or half blood Maran! And then… HERE WAS THE PERFECT TRIO for my master plan!!!
Oh my gosh. I was getting nervous. The Marans were pretty far down the list, so I decided to see how it was going. First thing they did was the bunnies. That was very interesting and educational. Rabbits are becoming very popular these days for many reasons. I guess you could say they are the new pork! I will admit, I’m not a fan of rabbit. I’m pretty simple in my meats. But, it could also be that I’ve only had it once and it was a little too gamey and tough for my taste. And I think it would be very hard to eat anything so cute. We have some plans in the work that involve rabbits, but that’s for another post!
They started the poultry and it was slow and drawn out. It took forever for them to get through numerous boxes of little chicks and ducklings. The duckies are super duper cute… but we don’t have a place for ducks. Not yet for sure. Finally they started the caged lots of hens and roos. It was surprising to me how little some of these birds were going for. Of course, they were the fairly common varieties, but still… $1 or 50 cents a bird in a cage of 5 or 6… wow. That gave me hope. Of course as they started to get near my choices, the prices started to raise. These were nicer, younger birds. There were several breeding pairs of fancy birds, and a lot of realy darling little Bantams… but I wanted big sturdy training chickens. You know, hard to kill, good to learn on, cheap to buy! I’ve been reading exstenively for YEARS about hens and all, so I had some good ideas but didn’t want to start with chicks… (We are still moving in and rehabbing, just kind of busy for little fragile babies) and I didn’t just want a passel of Rhode Island Reds or something that all looked the same.
So Lots 257 and 259 were the two I wanted to bid on. Well, much to my dismay, to move things along they started to auction groups of cages!!! AGH! Now you would get your choice, if you wanted, and the second bidder could have your leftovers. Problem is, they picked my TWO CAGES for one auction! I started out at $1.50 each. Another dude upped me right away to $2.00. Then the fellow that bought the zillion factory bids jumps in at $3.00!!! AGh!!!! I bid $3.50, he bid $4.00 and finally I won them at $5.00 each. And the auctioneer asks me, you want both, or your choice and I paniced and said BOTH!!! Hahaha… $40 for 8 birds! Jessy was white as a sheet and was like NO MOM!!!!!! And I just smiled. I said, it’s okay, they are all good birds… and then I told her that we had to wait and see how the Marans went. She just glared at me. I kind figured I would have no chance because I only had $20 left!!! Rehab and moving has been expensive the last month! So we waited.
Well, they got down to the cage. And the helper looks in and says to the auctioneer, it’s two hens and a rooster. And then from the sidelines, this woman angerly yells… “They are BLUE COPPER MARANS! VERY FANCY BIRDS!” I’m like, shoot. I knew that, but I was hoping that others might not. So the guy starts them at like $10 a bird! Thankfully, no one bit. And finally someone started at $1 a bird!! I couldn’t believe it… a buck a bird? Fancy Marans? So I bid $1.50. Jessy glared. ANother dude went to $1.75. And then the guy that bought all the farm birds looks around funny and bids $3.00!!!! AGH! I bid $3.25 and then he bids $4.00. I signed and waited a few moments, no one else was bidding. I waited as long as I could and then I said $5.00. And the auctioneer grinned and was like one, twice, SOLD to the lady… hahaha…. I think he really wanted me to have them because it was fairly clear the farm bird man was just cleaning up on cheap chickens for slaughter. Oh my gosh… 11 beautiful birds and $5 left for a bag of cracked corn!!! hahaha…
I did have to promise Jessy, no more chickens. Of course, I meant no more today… hahaha… but I’ll cross that bridge with her later. I’m hooked. I love them! I am a chicken fancier!!!
Well, it was going to be a little bit as they worked down the rest of the chicken row and then got done with the ducks and geese. I was thinking that I would love a pair of geese, but I have to tell you, they were turning me off. Nasty and angry and hissing, I knew that they were stressed and unhappy, but to be honest, I was just not that interested. It was a nice eye opener. I do really wish though that I had bid on a box of 3 bronze turkey poults. They went for $1.50 each. In the catalog, turkeys are like $12 EACH! 3 nice little birds for the winter freezer… but they were sold before the caged lots and I might have lost on my Marans!!!
We had brought a big moving box and Dingo’s dog crate. On our way to the auction, in the early morning, we passed a house that was pitching some odds and ends of furniture and I got a beautiful old wooden rocker out of the pile for free! We need a few pieces in this big old house, so that was so sweet. So we had that in there as well!
Haha… Maggie needs to hurry up and get that truck!!! Well, hey, trash picking is like the best sort of recycling, if you ask me. No energy is required to convert it so something very useful. There was an ugly and wet cushion on the seat, but I can easily make something new and nicer. It’s a nice rocker for sure. Solid too!
Well, anyway, I went and paid for my wins, and got my reciept. And we went and got the car and moved it closer. I went in with my tag and paperwork and crate and box and found an attendent to help me out. Now, mind you, I’ve only every held a hen like ONCE in my life. And now I had to get 11 angry, stressed and scared birds into a cardboard box and a small dog crate. Needless to say, I was a little worried about this, but said, well, give it a try. I want to raise them, I gotta learn soon enough. I told the lady I was a first timer and she smiled and said everyone has to be at some time. So, I started with the two hen cages and just took a breath and reached in and caught a bird butt and then gently but firmly grabbed ahold and managed to get her foot stuck in the wire and her head through the door and then she decided to flap and squawk like a crazy chicken in a fan and I was like about to give up when all the sudden she just relaxed and I got her out. OH MY GOSH…. Talk about confidence booster. The attendant said I was doing GREAT! And I went in again and again until I had eight smooshed hens in the crate!!!
Then it was the roo and his girls.
Oh my. I asked for advice. She said, go for the roo. Okay, I pushed the little door, and caught a bit of his flappy arm before he dove under the ladies to hide! And then one of the girls BIT ME!!! Oh my gosh! Haha… I thought I was going to be done right there but then I laughed and realized it didn’t hurt that bad. Guinea pigs bite harder. I had heard that Maran roosters were pretty nice and it seemed that I had bought one that was all bark and no bite. I managed to wrestle him out and into the cardboard box. After he was gone, the ladies were MUCH more docile and though it was a little bit of a tangle of feet and wings, I got them out and in the box. Ready for going home!!!
Eight chickens in a crate are heavy, let me tell you. We had to get the wagon out to transport them all back to the barn!
We decided that we would let the roo out first, since he was to be the man of the barn. Jack wandered out to watch and he was so funny. At first he was just interested and then he saw the size of that rooster and he just freaked out! He stared for a few moments, frozen and then turn and ran. He was having no part of some insane huge bird. Luna was just about the same way. She took one look at the hens and hightailed it back for the screen porch! What a bunch of sissy kitties.
I put the roo down and he flapped a bit and then started to look around and immediately started to scratch and flap in the dirt and then check out the feeder and just was very pleased. Maggie threw him a little cracked corn and he was very thrilled.
Jessy was right there and taking pictures, I was so proud of her. I’m very afraid of heights and there are some that I just can’t even deal with. But she was doing extremely well with her fear of birds and though didn’t want to come in the barn, was part of the action. I like to see my girls tackle tough things head on and master them! I suspect as time goes on, she’ll be pretty comfortable with the ladies.
Pretty quickly all the girls were out and checking out their new digs. We had saved a bucket of treats for them, some left over cabbage and some pound cake that went stale and ends of bread and some noodles! We carefully doled out the goodies and filled up their waterer with some nice cool water. I had a plan to distract them a bit from picking on each other with goodies and activities! Haha… sort of like dealing with kindergartners on the first day! Of course there were a few little feathery tussles and a few little bird girl alignment issues, but pretty much everyone was doing pretty well.
Now, this might sound funny, but I had it in my mind a collection of names for my beloved little flock. I wanted to name them after my grandmas! And then if I had more, I was going to name some after the girl’s grandmas! I thought that would be fun. And a good way of sort of remembering whom came with whom. And you have to admit, Grandma names are great hen names!!! So… let me introduce you to a few of our new flock.
This lovely little Maran hen is Carolyn.
The black hen roosting is Marilyn, a silver lace Wyandotte hen. Behind her is Mildred, a white and beige Ameracuna, or Easter Egger.
The white leghorn is Marjory and the little Black Star is Nancy Ann.
This little Black Star hen is Maureen. She has the most lovely little deep red feathers in her chest. It helps to stand her apart from Nancy Ann and Patty Ann.
The little Rhode Island Red in the front is Eleanor. She and Marjory are contemplating the back pasture with great interest.
This barred rock is named Kathryn. I told you, I got a nice assortment of hens! I love it, just exactly what I was dreaming about!
Now, I wasn’t totally sure I wanted a rooster, well, not at first, but then, I knew that I only wanted a special roo, and there in lay a problem. Which Grandpa to go with the Grandmas!! Well Jessy said Bucka.. which is the nickname for their paternal great grandfather who has been such a wonderful doting grandpa for years and years and then… it came to me… Bucka Roo!!!! HAHAHA… It was just so perfect! And he was christened… Bucka Roo!
Sorry other Grandpas! Don’t worry, we’ll have lots of other opportunities for your namesakes in our farm plans!!!
Jessy went back to the house for something, at some point and brought back the dogs. Now, that was interesting. At first Dingo got super excited. He was just SOOOO ready to help herd these little critters. And in fact, when he could not get to them through the side door fence gate, that little dork ran off to the feed room door and was immediately trying to get that way. I believe he might be our problem child when it comes to the hens.
Gypsy was very interested and watched them a good long while and then was like, oh well, and walked off to check out the pasture. Evee wasn’t quite sure either, she was excited at first, but then one of the ladies flapped and went all big and fluffy and she backed up and was very unsure of those BIG things. Since no canines get free range privileges here, I hope to keep any inter-species interaction to a bare minimum. Once the hens get their evening strolls down and learn to return to their roost nicely, then we will give the dogs a chance, on lead, to encounter them again. It will be a slow slow process. I don’t want any chicken killers on my hands. There’s just no reason for there to be any bloodshed.
Eleanor is the most colorful hen, so far. She likes to be held and she was the only one that figured out how to fly up high and get out over the breeze fence. She just wandered about a bit, and was easy to get back into the enclosure, were she stayed. But she kept trying to get out through the feed room, where Maggie and I had chairs and were watching a little Chicken TV. And finally we caught her once trying to sneak out under our chairs and then learned that she liked to be held and petted. She sat on Maggie’s lap FOREVER, just cooing and finally just settling down to roost there. She’s a cool chick for sure!
For all our adventures and efforts for the girls rewarded us with two lovely little light brown eggs!!! Nancy Ann decided to lay one by the water fount and Marilyn dug a little dust bath nest and laid one there. I’m pretty sure they are all discomboobalted from the whole auction adventure. We made up a nice nest box from the cardboard box, but they just pretty much played with it instead of setting in it. We need to get a bale of hay and make some lovely nice nest boxes. I know that straw works too, but I think hay smells prettier and will make nice soft lovely nests for the ladies. We dragged a couple big branches in for nice organic roosts and the ladies seemed to like them. I think we might need one more big branch, just to give everyone a nice spot. They are soooo cool!
I just can’t wait for tomorrow to go and see how they fared overnight! We filled up their water and bedded them all down, around 8 pm. They were already winding down, some were settling into the dusty areas and others were picking spots on the roosts. We closed up the big barn door and they just have a little sliver of evening light to act as a chicken night light in there. I hope they will be okay in there. We have not seen signs of any predators in the area, just one dead skunk. No coons, or possums, nothing. I am hoping that we don’t have too many. It’s weird, but all around us is big barren open farm fields, so anyone coming here will have to travel a bit. We’ll just have to see. Hopefully all will be well out there.
It’s been a crazy and exciting day and I am sure ready to hit the hay! 5:40 AM comes pretty darn fast. And then I didn’t sleep all that great because I was excited and worried and all that. I was finally getting my chickens!
And thank goodness, the world didn’t end! Yeah!!!!!