Saturday, April 20, 2013

Peep peep!

Who (or what) is peeping around here?  Well, today there was a lot of peeping going on outside.  I guess the frogs have decided that spring has arrived.  I took Jet for his afternoon walk after the rain finally ceased, and the spring peeper frogs were singing the first act of Carmina Burana, or at least their version of it.  I was able to get quite close to the boggy area where they were doing their performance, and I realized that under the high-pitched peeping frenzy, there is a lower note coming from the alto voices, more akin to a duck quacking than a frog noise.  I'm not sure if I've got different species of frogs in that area, or if spring peepers make a multitude of different calls.  Jet was quite interested in the noise, but since he couldn't find the source, he lost interest quite quickly.  That was fine, but as we headed home and went up the driveway, all of a sudden, a frog jumped in front of us.  Good thing I had a tight grip on the lead, or that frog would have been history!  Jet was very exuberant in his pursuit of the frog and I had to reel him in quickly.  Of course, a full nasal investigation had to be made of the area where the frog had been.  Now he's on the scent, I think we'll be stopping to check out frog trails on a regular basis.

But that's not the peeping that I'm actually going to write about today.  I'm talking about the peeping of baby chicks.  I'd promised myself, adamantly, that I would not hatch any eggs this year because I have enough chickens and I really don't need any more.  I love incubating eggs and watching the hatching process, but at 16 hens, I have plenty of eggs to spare.  So, when I went to the feed store this week, I was amused, but firm with myself about the pens of peeping chicks.  The feed store here is nothing like the ones I used to frequent in Iowa.  There, I could choose from a wide variety of interesting breeds in a rainbow of colours.  Here, by contrast, there are 3 kinds of chicks available.  There are broilers (meat birds), white egg layers, and brown egg layers.  They don't even know the breed of the layers - they're just "commercial" I was told.  Ho hum.  So, this didn't really tempt me.  I said to the feed store guy that I would only be tempted by special breeds, like silkies.  "Oh," he said, "I have some silkie chicks over there." Dang-gummit!

The feed store proprietor hatched some chicks from his own flock of silkies, and had them in a separate location in the store.  I tried...really I ignore this whole matter, but it was just not possible.  I just had to see what colour they were, because if they were white....meh....I could do without.  But no, they were buff and black.  Oh, it was too much to resist.  Truly.  I was smitten.

In Iowa, I was able to order hatching eggs online from all kinds of small and large flock owners, giving me access to a veritable encyclopedia of breeds.  In addition, there are a wide range of hatcheries specializing in unusual breeds of chickens, including the rare breeds in need of conservation, which were of great interest to me.  Here in Canada, it's practically a chicken wasteland.  There are very few hatcheries and the existing ones don't have many breeds.  Even crazier - the one special breed actually developed in Canada, the Chantecler, is easier to find in the USA than in Canada.  There are a lot of miserable government regulations associated with chickens here in Canada that make it difficult for small farms to prosper, which may be part of the problem, but it sure doesn't help with breed conservancy and it's difficult for those of us who want to do our part but can't even find a source of birds in the area.

So, I am now the happy owner of 2 little buff silkie chicks and one black silkie chick.  Of course, this will mean that names must be chosen soon.  Here's the little black one.

Instant Cup-o-Chick!

I hope I've got at least one hen - these chicks were "straight run" (meaning unsexed) so I don't know what I've got, but I did a top secret test and I tried to pick ones that supposedly show female tendencies.

Just look at those fabulously feathered feet!

I added one solitary "breedless" brown layer chick, just to see what it turned out to look like and whether I could figure out the mystery of the breed.

She's really quite cute.

There are so many commercial brown layers - ISA browns, golden comets, cinnamon queens, and many others.  It's disappointing that there just isn't the interest here in breed specifics.

So, I succumbed to the silkie temptation, but I'm still not hatching any chicks this year!


IsobelleGoLightly said...

I love the wee round one hidden in the cup! hee hee My lady has resisted the silkies because of the mud in the hen yard but they are sure cute when they belong to someone else! It will be fun watching them grow!

I know a secret about frogs. If Jet manages to get one in his mouth he will be very disappointed as it will make him all foamy and icky. They have a nasty secretion (arent I a smart goat) on their hide. Guess how we found that out? Thistle. hee hee

Cloverleaf Art and Fibre said...

Sweet little fluff balls! I'm surprised there isn't more interest in heritage chicken breeds in your neighbourhood. There is a very active "cluck and quack" club here in Manitoba; they have a big swap and sale every year with a wide range of breeds (including pheasants and peacocks). Have you tried contacting Rare Breeds Canada, they might know of someone in your area who has more interesting breeds .... oh wait, you don't want more birds, right? Enjoy the silkies!

Patty Woodland said...

So you say....we will see

Spinners End Farm said...

Baby peeps! Love them. The green sugar bowl is brilliant!

Nancy Craig said...

I love looking at the chicks in the store but we can't have them in our city limits. Thanks for sharing.

edenhills said...

They are adorable! Who could resist such pretty little ladies (we hope, we hope)!

Melody said...

Wow ~ superb will power you have! You are an inspiration!!! ha ha
They are adorable of course...which is probably how you lost sight of your will power in the first place!!

Marigold said...

Oh! They are unusually beautiful chicks! Especially their eyes The more 'common' one has big feet. :) We have frog peeping going on here as well. At least they know it is spring! Yay!

Mare said...

Oh Claire, this is NOT helping my chicken envy problem!!! hahaha We are not zoned to keep "poultry" here, but i hear things are starting to change. I have the perfect place for a little hen house and my back shade garden could be fenced off to allow the "girls" some freedom...See? Future plans are in the works if only in my head! I loved your pictures of the new babies, especially the pictures of the chicks in the beautiful green cup. Take care my friend..Love, mare