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Sunday, March 21, 2010


My little cheepers are here!

I bought ten Australorps and ten Buff Orpingtons. The Australorps are a tad older and some are already beginning to feather.

We have long range plans for more exotic breeds too. Greg really wants to get peacocks and maybe pheasants. We think there might be a market for them out here. For now, we're starting slow. Our setup can handle quite a few birds, but when we get into more exotic breeds, we might have to expand to something more generous.

I can't wait to show you the chicken coop Greg is building. It's like the Taj Mahal for poultry. It's been an expensive investment, despite the fact we built it ourselves, but it will definitely last the rest of our lifetimes. We hope whoever comes after us will say, "Man, this is fantastic! I can keep the mother-in-law in here."

The nice thing about raising birds is that we still have much of our equipment from when we raised emu and rhea, so it will be a piece of cake to repurpose the stuff to these smaller birds.

We had an amazing success rate hatching emu and rhea (and chickens). In any given year, we had 98% of all eggs hatch successfully. Chickens always hatched, but emu and rhea were tricky.

Many breeders we knew lost huge clutches of eggs and we discovered humidity played an important part in the process. Greg built a specially designed 'clean' room where we could monitor and maintain temperature and humidity by tenths of a degree. --That guy is just too damn smart. :o)

For our little operation now, we chose Australorps and Orpingtons because they are are very calm birds. I also like the way the adults look. Gorgeous birds! The only breed we're still looking for is the Araucana/Ameraucanas (Easter egg chickens).
I have yet to find a local breeder who sells them, but when we do, we'll add them to the flock. For more information on these breeds and why they're cross bred, go here.

With as slow as we're getting things done, it may be another year before we get goats. But at least the chickens are here. I'd forgotten how much fun they were.


Marianne Arkins said...

I love chickens!! I want some, but DH says no.

UGH on Peacocks. When I was in fourth grade (or so), our neighbors about a mile away had peacocks and they were NOISY. We could hear them like they were in our yard. Of course, they did come to visit now and then. I loved the feathers, but didn't love the birds. LOL...

Maria Zannini said...

Well, we have lions roaring down the road, so peacocks shouldn't bother me.

That's probably still a year away anyway.

They used to wander the university campus where Greg attended school and he's always had a fondness for them.

Dru said...

Seriously, you have lions down the road? Do they roam free within their grounds?

The chicks are so cute. When you say you're raising them, are you raising them for the eggs which you'll consume or to sell?

I can't wait to see the chicken coop.

Have a good Sunday.

Maria Zannini said...

Dru: Yes. We have lions down the road. It's a rescue preserve. There's a huge perimeter fence, but I've never seen them so maybe they're kept in cages. I do hear them nightly.

Someday, I'm going to have to go down there and visit. It's not a public preserve, but I have a neighbor who knows them, so maybe I can get in.

Chickens we'll raise for eggs, meat and sell to other people as layers.

Joanne said...

Chickens seem to really be growing in popularity. I've read on a few blogs where backyard coops are being built and chickens bought to be raised at home, and read a memoir based on raising chickens!

Maria Zannini said...

A memoir? No kidding!

I know chickens have become hugely popular in very posh and urbane Dallas.

They are relatively easy to raise and you can't beat the freshness of the eggs. It is night and day between fresh and store bought.

Sherri said...

I'd love to have a few chickens for the eggs but we're in the city. I know some cities are allowing for chickens in backyards but if Las Vegas is our HOA isn't.

So cute at this stage.

Maria Zannini said...

Oh, HOAs are the worst. I know they keep the neighborhood beautiful, but I just can't live with that many rules.

But you're right. Lots of cities are allowing them. As long as you don't have roosters, chickens don't make a lot of noise.

M.R.J. Le Blanc said...

Wow, this homesteading venture is really interesting to follow! Silly question, but with peacocks do you just sell their feathers?

Maria Zannini said...

Good question, MRJ.

I've heard of people eating peacocks, but it seems they are more valuable to sell as chicks or laying pairs. Of course, the feathers are prized too.

I think most people buy them as yard decoration, though as Marianne said, they are loud.

I'm not entirely sold on peacocks, but I am interested in pheasants. I love their plumage and their meat is a real delicacy.

Kaz Augustin said...

Emu is good eating. In Australia, they eat their national symbols (kangaroo and emu)!

Also, why not geese? They taste de-licious! Superior to turkey, imo.

Maria Zannini said...

Hi Kaz!

I've always liked the taste of emu, rhea and ostrich. It's a very fine red meat and low fat.

Ref: geese
Geese need water. And I don't want have to build a pond for them.

Someday...she says dreamily, I'd love to have a pond, but only to raise fish. By then, I might give in and put some geese out there too. Greg would love to see goose on the dinner table.

Shelley Munro said...

Yes, peacocks are definitely noisy. They're not so much fun if you're trying to sleep. I love your chickens and look forward to seeing more photos and hearing how you're doing. Hubby and I would love to have some chickens.

Marian said...

Aww! I love the picture of all the yellow chicks clustered around the black one.

Have the dogs discovered them yet?

Maria Zannini said...

Shelley: You are making me want to rethink peacocks. LOL. We'd put them in a pen out on field, but I do like my quiet.

Marian: Dogs have been good. Iko pretty much ignores them, but Tank dances around like a worried mother when he hears them cheep,