Just in case anyone was wondering how the Brunswick Mineral Springs Bed and Breakfast Chickens are doing, they are doing wonderfully. No, they are more than wonderful. In fact, they are absolutely fabulous!
The girls are about 12 weeks old now and, oh my, how they have grown. So far, every one of my little ladies are healthy and apparently very happy. While some are more affectionate than others, they all seem pleased to see me in the mornings. Maybe it has more to do with the big red bucket of yummies I bring to them for breakfast than it does with any attachment they might have to me. By far, hot dogs are their favorite!
They are outside now, in their new coop...
And mind you, when I say "coop," I mean a 16' x 4', two-story, three-room condominium with ten individual brooding compartments and a spacious, landscaped, fenced-in yard.
Daddy and I built it. Well, he built it. I "helped" like one of the Shake-N-Bake girls. I did do all of the painting, and I put the roof on. I also selected and placed the "furnishings," which are rearranged regularly. It's what I do. Ask anyone who knows me.
Most of the materials used to create The Coop are repurposed or found in storage somewhere on the property. People might laugh at dad for all of the stuff he keeps packed away in all sorts of places around here... That is, until they need, saaaay, a chicken coop. Then he is so "the man."
We created an enclosure where the coop is built and I've added palm trees, seating areas, lighting
and areas for storage. In the back of the enclosure is a simple, green wire fence but there is a glorious surprise grape vine taking it over. Closer inspection of the area shows signs that the location was once a vineyard. The very large and seemingly ancient roots have sprouted vines, which are now spreading beautifully over the wire. I added a few carefully selected branches to create a natural rise to the area where the vines are growing. The hope is to create a wall of grapevine. I wonder if the Jones family planted them?
The front fence of the enclosure is backed with chicken wire. I've planted peas and string beans there. Since they are climbing veggies, they will soon have the front fence covered. I have sunflower seeds planted there as well, and just planted some morning glory seeds.
While the girls love grazing in their enclosure, they are also free-ranging now... under my "mother hen" supervision, of course. It's tick season and chicken love to eat ticks. Time to start earning their keep.
I've gotten rather good at chicken herding. After a fun session of free-ranging I can now get the girls back into their enclosure in ten seconds or less. Getting them into the coop as well takes another five. I even have an official Chicken Herding Staff. When not free-ranging, I leave the girls to play in their enclosure. They like relaxing in one of the many roosting areas or taking a dust bath in the pools of soft earth, which they collectively scratch up and fluff to perfection before laying in it and flapping it up into their feathers.
As the sun sets the girls will generally go back into the coop on their own. Then all I have to do is do a head-count, give them a few rubbings and pettings, make sure they have fresh water, tuck them in, secure all of the door latches and say good-night.
Curiously, the style of training Einstein received at New Sentry K-9 in Brookville, Florida (before we moved here in January) has come in very handy. You see, while undergoing his six-weeks obedience boot camp at New Sentry, not only did Einstein learn advanced obedience commands, in German, he learned to do all this with distractions... like with about 30 chickens and three cows roaming around the training areas. So, if you're ever here at Brunswick Mineral Springs Bed and Breakfast and you decide to take a stroll to The Coop while they're free-ranging, don't be surprised if you see Einstein grazing with the girls to make sure he isn't missing anything.
The chickens have become quite popular with guests and the whole family here. We find it unexpectedly calming just sitting under the shade tree, watching as they graze in the yard or relaxing under the canopy in the chicken yard while they hunt for edibles in the enclosure. After listening for a while you begin to realize how vocal they are, so many types of chirps, clucks and gurgles. My daughter and grand daughters like hanging out in The Coop. So does my mom. They like feeding and petting The Girls, and The Girls seem to enjoy their attention and company.
The Golden Laced Wyandottes are particularly beautiful now. The pattern on their feathers reminds me of a mosaic.
Near their face, their beaks have a bluish tint, which looks wonderful against the red that's starting to flush into their faces.
It's so hard to believe that, less than two months ago, they were these somewhat bland (but nevertheless, utterly adorable) little puff balls.
Shirley (Temple) is still, by far, the most affectionate of all the chickies and she is so curious about everything. She's always the first to greet me when I come to visit the coop and if I don't pay attention to her she will peck at my pant legs until I give her some rubbings. She loves being held and petted and she will even fluff up her feathers so you can give some rubbings to the skin on her neck.
She and her sister Amberlinks are said to be prolific egg producers, laying about five large brown eggs per week. That should mean around 15 eggs per week from these ladies.
One curious note.
We aren't real sure what to make of Marilyn (Monroe).
She just doesn't look like her sister Amberlinks. She is noticeably... well, not as slender. In fact, she's very much larger than all of the other chickens. Truth be told, she looks about as "feminine" as a linebacker... and I swear she has side burns.
Her tail feathers are longer, her neck is much thicker and she has a broader chest. Oh... And her feet are green. Yes, green. Like "pea green." So to be on the safe side, we've just started calling her "Caitlyn."
Rita (Hayworth) is gorgeous. Her red feathers are somewhat iridescent and they shine beautifully in the sun. Her face, like those of her sister Rhode Island Reds, has turned the richest shade of crimson.
As you can see in the photos, her comb and wattles are starting to sprout!
Rita and the other Red Heads should lay about five to six medium to large eggs per week. That's another 15 or so eggs per month! When they do start producing eggs, I am going to start an Employee of The Month program. Seriously.
The chicken who lays the most eggs each month will have her photo taken, framed, and hung on the outside of the Egg Factory. She will also get her own celebratory hot dog... and maybe a toss of some lettuce confetti.
On average, I go through eight eggs per couple for a two-morning stay. When we hit full-capacity(12 or more guests, like we had for Memorial Day Weekend), I will need around 48 eggs to make breakfast alone for two days. When you add breakfast for me, mom and dad, and for my daughter, son-in-law and two grand daughters (and other assorted other family members who pop in now and then), and other meals that require eggs... well, you can see why eggs are rather necessary around here. Combined, when The Girls hit peak laying capacity, I should be harvesting around 40 to 45 eggs per month.
Wait... Is That going to be enough?
Uh oh… I think I'm going to need more chickens!