Previously, I hinted that I was going to add some chickens to our flock. I’d met a woman at the Master Naturalist Christmas party named Cindy Vek, who told me all about her chicken farm, Bird and Bee Farm, between Rockdale and scenic Milano, Texas. I was intrigued.
So, yesterday, Mandi and I fired up the big, black pickup and headed over there, first stopping at Tractor Supply for the supplies I’d needed earlier.
I’m always grateful for map apps. It sure makes finding places way in the middle of the country easier. After a drive through some really pretty Milam County countryside, we found the place, conveniently labeled, as you can see from the first photo.
Immediately we became little kids, giddy with excitement. Look at the guinea fowl! Look at the Rio Grande turkeys, flying around (yes, turkeys CAN fly!). Look at the beautiful donkey! Look at the gorgeous sheep!
And of course, look at that giant chicken house. We were in heaven.
We went in, stepped in the antibacterial stuff, and saw a world of hens, from chicks to laying age. So many colors, so many eggs possibilities. Wow.
We wandered in a stupor for a while, deciding what kind and age of hens we wanted to get. The owners suggested we go ahead and get the ones of laying size, so they would be the same size as the other chickens in the flock. They are already laying eggs, too, so I could start recouping my investment immediately.
We wanted to get some more different colored eggs, to please my work egg clients (and us), and we wanted attractive hens, because, why not? Of course, all the hens were attractive.
I will now mention many chicken breeds. This page has all the info on them, so feel free to refer there.
I already was hankering for a hen that laid dark brown eggs, so I would have to choose one of the dark types; I decided on a Barnvelder I also knew I wanted a Buff Brahma hen, because I’d just seen a flock of them, and they looked so cool PLUS have feathered feet. My sister wants me to name it after her.
Otherwise, I wanted another Barred Plymouth Rock, because they are pretty and nice, and I wanted a White Leghorn so I could have more white eggs. I already have one of each of these leftover from the owl death rampage.
After that, I was going for the cool factor. Buff Rocks are yellowish and really pretty, so I got one of those. And they had chickens named Buttercup, which have a circular comb. Obviously I needed one of those. And finally, there was the breed that lays speckled eggs, the Welsummer! Speckled eggs!
Now to catch them
Whew, the hard decisions being made, we had to get the hens. Mandi and I had a blast watching the very talented owner catching birds. He was great at it!
After each bird was caught, I got to examine it closely. They wanted to be sure I was satisfied with their health and vigor. You know what was fun? Doing that. The hens were so soft and docile. They all had bright eyes and plenty of meat on them. One was panting kind of funny, so we got another one. It was neat to see how much they care.
Also, for each chicken, I had to examine their vent area (where they poop, mate, and lay eggs, yum). Mandi really liked taking pictures of me inspecting hen butts. No signs of illness there! Just fluffy butts!
We put four hens in one cardboard box, lined with shavings. These were the “nicer” hens. The other three, including the extremely feisty Barnvelder, who kept showing us her lovely black ruff feathers, went into a second box.
After being distracted by finding a box full of 8 kittens (and a very tired mama cat), we managed to get out of there, after admiring the other animals one more time. I was very proud of Mandi for not buying anything yet! It was hard. She loves guinea fowl.
Made it home
When we got home, we called in all the community to watch us release them. Mandi’s son, Seth, who feeds the chickens a lot, helped out, Sara came over with Spice, and even Lee drove by to see them!
We lucked out and the 11 chickens we still had were out foraging for bugs, so they weren’t in the way. Mandi very carefully took each hen out, while Seth gave each one a little feed, so she would know she was home.
Eventually everyone seemed happy, so we left them alone. I checked on them this morning, and I know the Legorn laid an egg, because we had two white ones! Whee!
We are going to finish the coop work later this afternoon. Whew. That has been a lot of fun. Now I just have to order more egg cartons. Even though we recycled lots, Ralph got rid of a bunch when he sold eggs at farmer’s markets last year, so we need to restock. That’s a good thing!
PS: The Bird and Bee Farm is participating in the Pastures for Upland Birds project, and our Master Naturalists hope to help out with it as much as possible. Some of us are going there on March 3 to learn about Monarch butterflies. The project is in conjunction with Texas Parks and Wildlife and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.