Friday, May 16, 2014

And For My Next Trick...Cream Legbars, Black Javas, and Black Copper Marans

It's pretty exciting to plan my return to the chicken charming scene.  I'm finally at the stage where I know exactly where we are going to be living (rural, mountains, 5 acre farm west of Asheville) and that birds are in my near future.

I know my first priority remains with the critically endangered Black Java.  If you've seen my other posts here, you know how special these birds are to me.  I've written here about my own experiences with BJs as inimitable broodies and mothers and the best roosters I've ever known.

Malcolm, best rooster in the world.  Seriously.
Minerva, the broody.  After she had sat for several days I put
day-old foster chicks under her, and she accepted them gracefully.
I've arranged to get BJ chicks from the birds I raised and bred back in Arkansas.  Best of all, Malcolm the super roo-gentleman is still fertile.  That means I'll have his excellent genetics in play, as father to my new flock. I'll travel to Arkansas and pick up a dozen or so, then hightail it back to NC.  I'll raise them up over the Fall and they should start laying in late Winter.  Javas are known for their perfect fit with urban and rural homesteads--excellent foragers, with calm, slightly aloof personalities, they are able to consume less feed and get more of their sustenance on their own, if allowed to free range; yet they also bear confinement well. Because they go broody and are pros at raising their own (or other less broody hens') babies, you can easily maintain a backyard flock without running back to the feed store each Spring.  They are a true dual-purpose bird, laying lots of eggs yet big enough to be worth your time and energy to butcher for meat. Attitude is perhaps the most important trait to consider in a rooster for a family with children, and I've not yet heard of a BJ roo who is mean. Read all about them here. If you are looking for Black Java fertile hatching eggs in the Spring of 2015, let me know!  I may also have some chicks for locals, but I don't ship live birds, ever.

Next up is another favorite of mine--Black Copper Marans. This charming video shows Gypsy, another excellent broody and mother, and Jules, my BCM roo way back when, parenting their chicks.  Boy, is allowing a mama to just raise babies easier than doing it heat lamp, rubbermaid container, poop to deal with, or incessant peeping at night!

BCMs lay a wonderfully dark egg, usually qute large, past the pullet stage.  I adore the speckles some of them have.  BCMs play a major role in getting Olive Eggers--and the darker and more speckled-y the better, for my tastes.

Black Copper Marans go broody often and make wonderful mothers.

Males and females are large, and dress out nicely. Jules, my roo here, was a gentle giant and almost seemed to enjoy being picked up.  I really miss him! Read more about Marans here.

While I'm excited about getting Black Javas and Black Copper Marans again, I'm even more enthusiastic about the new breed I'll be adding to my flock-- Cream Legbars. This is a rare breed developed by none other than the Punnett himself, from Leghorns, Barred Rocks, and Auracanas.  A blue-egg layer! This bird has the wonderful quality of autosexing--so you can tell from BIRTH whether a chick is a male or female. Autosexing, unlike sexlinked traits, is carried on in CLs through the generations as long as you are pure (not cross) breeding the birds (CLxCL). Read more about them here.  The CL will be crossed with BCMs to get my new line of Olive Eggers. I hate to use pics from other people's flocks so I'll instead include here an old SOP (Standard of Perfection) drawing.  More pics to come, once I have my own breeding flock!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Homecoming--Back to My Charmed Life

I can't tell you how much I've missed my charmed life back home in Arkansas, raising chickens.  We moved to the suburbs of Philadelphia in July of 2012, and it's taken me two years to find my way partly home again.  This July, we'll be relocating to the mountains of Western North Carolina, near Asheville.  We are moving to a little farmhouse on five acres, and I'm itching to restart my breeding program for Olive Eggers and especially for Black Javas.  Look for more info soon!