Those of you who follow my blog and instagram regularly know that I expanded my little brood of animals a little over a month ago with the addition of 8 baby chicks. I’ve always wanted to own my own chickens, not just for their eggs (although it is going to be SO awesome once they start laying and I can have a steady supply of tasty and organic ones), but I’ve always been fascinated by birds and their mannerisms. My yiayia kept chickens and wild turkeys on their pistachio farm back in Greece, and my parents have always had a fondness for birds, loading their backyard with several well-stocked bird feeders placed in key bird-watching positions, so it appears that love of fluffy feathers and weirdly jilted head movements has been passed on to me.
I wanted a wide variety of egg colors, so we wended up opting for 8 different chicken varieties and got them online. Yep, you can order live chicks off the internet and have them delivered to your house. While the idea of this kinda freaked me out, it is safe because the chicks absorb the yolk right before they hatch, which gives them all the nutrients they need to survive without food or water for a couple days while they’re being shipped. This is because, out in the wilds of nature, the mama bird has to wait for all the eggs to hatch before she can take her chicks over to the water source (if she leaves the unhatched eggs they’re vulnerable to predators), which can take a few days.
When they come, they’re just little balls of down and fluff, and so damn cute it’s frightening. Like the kind where you find yourself uncontrollably cooing “…..eeeeeeee!” out loud while you stare at them. They stay like that for a few days, but then, they start to change. It’s insane how quickly they grow; I thought our chihuahua Ralph grew fast when he was a puppy, but that was nothing compared to these guys. I have photos below of each of the birds, the first one is taken at 1 week old and the next is taken at 1 month old, so there’s about 3 weeks of time that’s passed between the two, and the chicks look so different. Right around the 1-month mark, they’ve hit their awkward teenager phase. They’re starting to loose their fluffy down in patches, and their actual feathers are coming in in its place. It’s pretty funny-looking, the remaining down is sticking out in weird places, especially on Daphne and Maris’ heads. Oh, and I forgot to mention, they’re all named after characters from Frasier. You might not think that there’s 8 female characters on the show, but as it turns out, there are! And most of them are oddly fitting for hens (Lilith!)
So I have a little about each one and their breed below, I hope you enjoy looking through my brood of chicks (pardon the paint on Jeremy’s hands, it’s from coop-painting!), and if any of you are current/former chicken owners and have any tips on raising them, I’d be much obliged! I read these two books to cover, but firsthand experience is always the best kind. We’ll be moving them out to the coop Jeremy just is nearly finished building (will share that another time), so any tips on transitioning them from the brooder to the coop would be much appreciated!
Daphne is a Buff Orpington, she and Alice are the biggest members of the flock. She was the friendliest of the babies when she first arrived, contentedly nesting in your hand when you picked her up without crying. She’s still pretty friendly now, and is very submissive with the other birds even though she’s so big. A really sweet girl.
Roz is an Ancona, if I were to suspect that any of these were accidental roosters, it would be her. From the beginning, she has been the defender of the flock. Every time we put our hand in the brooder to refill the food or water, she’s the first one to run up and chirp at us. At first she was a bit feisty, pecking at our fingers, but she’s mellowed out quite a bit and is now the friendliest and most confident one in the flock, always running up to greet me when I come into the brooder room. She’s definitely the dominant hen.
Alice is a Silver Cuckoo Marans and is the biggest chick along with Daphne. She’s really sweet and friendly, and while definitely not a dominant bird, she is one of the more confident ones in the flock.
Bebe is a Welsummer and has the most beautiful coloring. Just the richest, warmest shade of reddish brown. She is very inquisitive and mild-mannered, not the first to try new things (that’s always Roz) but usually warms up pretty quickly to new introductions in the brooder.
Diane is an Australorp, she’s a bit more on the shy side and kind of blends in with the flock. Very submissive.
Lilith is an Easter Egger Bantam, she is the smallest chick in the group and always will be because of her Bantam lineage (Bantams are miniature breeds of chickens). She is by far the least friendly and is very shy and terrified of anything new or foreign. Whenever I put my hands in the brooder, she flees to the other side crying. When I put a plum half in the brooder as a treat, she waited until everyone was chomping away happily for a good while before finally giving it a try. I’m hoping she mellows out a little with age, but maybe I just need to have some one-on-one feeding time with something tasty like a watermelon rind to get her to warm up to people a bit.
Maris is a Cream Legbar, and is currently sporting a fauxhawk. She is the rarest breed of the bunch and will lay bright blue eggs. She has a nice temperament and is a little shy but warms up fairly quickly, especially when there’s food involved.
Gertrude is an Olive Egger and, as her name implies, will lay earthy green eggs. She’s pretty shy and submissive and tends to just follow along with the group. The Olive Egger variety is a cross breed of a few different chicken varieties, so it’s not really certain what she’s going to end up looking like. I’m looking forward to the surprise!