Saturday, April 9, 2011

Chickens From The Past

Lace Wing Wyandotte Hens
I was looking through files of pictures from years ago.  We had chickens in Santa Fe, and some moved to Albuquerque with us.  We had gotten our New Mexican chickens from a New Mexican hatchery. Not only was I less than pleased.  But, they were too closely bred, and were cannibals.  Yes, cannibals.  Some of them ate the feathers off, and then the backs of the other chickens.  I had heard about this, but had never seen it.  In a state where cock fighting is still legal, it makes sense.  Close breeding lines of chickens causes aggression, among other problems.  That's great for fighting cocks, but not for laying hens.

Lace Wing Wyandottes are one of my favorite breeds

The Auracanas were the nasty ones, but we had a few lace wing Wyandottes, and Rhode Island Reds. 
In the 1st photo on top you can see the back of the middle hen is 
missing feathers.  In the picture you can see how unhappy these birds were from being picked on (literally) all the time. Their feathers though, are actually perfect.  However, as a poultry Judge, their combs are a disaster.  Lesson learned and shared: 
 know your breeder.

The craziest rooster I have ever seen

This rooster above almost looks dead in this picture.  He's not. This guy crowed ALL night, every night.
He also layed on his stomach (as in this photo) with his feet stretched out behind him.  I could never figure out why he laid in this position.  Let's say he wasn't  "neurotypical" in any way.  One day I couldn't find him...and I imagine an owl or a hawk took him.  Although sad, we did not miss his nightly crowing.
A buff Orpington hen.
Most of the chickens were given away to a family with kids who wanted eggs.  We kept 3 (my son's favorites) and kept them for 2 years in Albuquerque. In the city limits you are allowed up to 15 hens, and one rooster. They say in the ordinance: "in compliance to sound restrictions."  I picture rooster owners sitting down with the cock on their lap and reading him the city ordinance.

 I was still working in the movies when we bought our house in the county on an acre of land.  We moved the chickens with us.  I even added 6 pullets (young hens) to freshen the laying flock.  One night my son forgot to lock them up, and in the morning came out to blood and feathers everywhere.  The coyotes got them all.  I was at work, and missed the whole ordeal.  I lovingly washed and put away all the feeders, heaters, and nesting boxes.  It's taken me 2 years to even think about getting more.  

So now you have some understanding of why we are building "Fort Chicken." It is 12' x 35'. The floor of chicken wire is in. Now for the sides and the roof.  Every seam is sewed together with bailing wire. And if that's not enough-- I have 6' horse fence around the entire sides that is sewn to the chicken wire. There are 2 x 4's running on the ground and roof that the the chicken wire is attached to.  The only way coyotes will be able to get in will be with wire cutters.  Right now a NM spring wind storm is preventing further work (and I have bronchitis).  
A photo of my black prize winning Cochin.

The peeps are growing. The copier box I use to put them in when I clean their nursery every day, they hopped out of! The larger ones had their heads peeking over the top.  The points of beaks were lined up along the edge of the box.  Their back feathers are coming in.  The larger Cochins continue to run to me, or puddle jump when I open the door.  Then they turn their heads to the side and give me that one eyed "chicken stare."  When Bob walks by the nursery he looks through the window and says: "Hi Kids!"  We are down to 85 degrees this week, and they are looking pretty sturdy.   More photos this weekend.

I have my eye on a wooden bench on Etsy....sort of bleacher seats for chicken watching.  

Thanks for reading. Blogger decided to put the last part of this in bold/italic. And will not let me change it.  Augh!
Each day is a gift. Open now.


  1. Those top chickens are gorgeous despite their cannibalistic tendencies! That rooster is a bit strange... haven't seen anything like that in all my years of chickens!! ;) That constant crowing probably drew the predators directly to him!

  2. You are soooo right. I never thought of that.
    Going to check if you have new photos on your blog. xo