Sunday, June 19, 2011

Meet the Girls

Ed warned us not to name our baby chicks. After all, when they stop laying eggs they'll likely end up on the dinner table, and when you're on a first name basis with your dinner it may be slightly less appetizing.

Dylan started it. He nicknamed one chick "Quicky Chicky" because she liked to race around the enclosure. Then Sarah decided to call one chick "Gonzo" because of her oddly mottled face.

Before long, I couldn't help myself. When I can, I like to sit in the chicken house and relax while watching the antics of our babies. As their individual personalities began to emerge, names just seemed to attach themselves to the chicks.

Since these gals are in constant motion, it wasn't easy to capture each individual chick on film. Nonetheless, here they are. Allow me to introduce you to our girls, who were 24 days old on Friday when these pictures were taken:
This is Buffy, originally known as Quicky Chicky.
Dylan still calls her Quicky.


Buffy and Cocoa are sisters from the Ameraucana breed, although I've learned that a true Ameraucana is a show bird which can only be obtained from a breeder. Ours came from a hatchery and thus are probably Easter Eggers, kind of like the "mutt" version of the highly-bred show chickens. That's not bad, though. Easter Eggers lay about 4 extra-large blue and green eggs per week, whereas the more refined Ameraucanas lay only 3 medium eggs in shades of blue.

We have 6 Ameraucanas/Easter Eggers, and Buffy has the lightest coloring of the batch while Cocoa has the darkest. The other 4 look so much alike, we can't tell them apart and have yet to name them.

Crysta and Sally are Black Australorps, a breed developed in Australia from Orpingtons, a popular breed in England. When we first got our chicks, we couldn't recall the names of all 4 breeds, but Ed remembered that one sounded something like "Black Astronauts." So I named these 2 ladies after female astronauts Crysta McAuliffe and Sally Ride.

You might wonder how we tell them apart. Notice that Crysta's facial markings are more like dots and Sally's are more like smears. Of course, we have no idea how those markings will change as they mature.
Gonzo: This little gal is Sarah's favorite.


Gonzo and Lacey are Silver Laced Wyandottes. When they grow up, they'll have beautiful silver feathers with dark black edging, making them look like they're all dressed up in a fancy lace gown.

Gonzo is our smallest chick, sort of the runt of the litter. She sometimes swells out her throat like a frog, making us wonder if she swallowed something that stuck in her throat, but she is otherwise healthy.


Priscilla and Prudence are of a breed called Barred Plymouth Rocks, so of course they needed Pilgrim-type names. They are the most assertive of our 12 chicks, especially Priscilla, whom we call Miss Prissy. Priscilla has a big round yellow patch on top of her head, while Prudence's patch is smaller, further back on her head, and almost arrow-shaped.

We've begun feeding the chicks leftover vegetable cuttings: zucchini, onion, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, apple cores, etc. As soon as we enter the shed with food, the other 11 chicks move away from the fence, but Miss Prissy is right there waiting to pounce on it as soon as we drop it. When it comes to food, she is lightning fast, with Prudence right on her heels. The other chicks don't stand a chance!
Dylan sometimes catches crickets and other bugs and drops them into the pen. Miss Prissy is always first to snatch it up. Ed notes that she begins peeping and fussing as soon as she has the prey in her mouth, alerting the others to the fact that she has something and they don't! I think she gets a thrill out of having the other chicks chase her around the pen.
One of the final four, unnamed Easter Eggers.

Another of the final four, unnamed Easter Eggers.

Three of the unnamed Easter Eggers with Crysta.
I think if we could get them to stand together, side by side, and be still for a few minutes, we could note the differences between the last four Easter Egger chicks and give them names, too, but these babies are constantly in motion. In time, I suppose they'll also begin to stand out more.
I already have ideas for some names: Maybelline, Nadia, Chanel... Well, we'll see!

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