Saturday, October 9, 2010

New flock comes home

This is Ev, our new friend from Coombs. We think Ev is wonderful: she's strong and resourceful, knowledgeable and down to earth, and has a great sense of humour to boot. Ev has been a farmer of one kind or another all her life and a research scientist for much of it, and her mission for the last while has been to improve the quality of the Buff Orpington flock on Vancouver Island.

Ever since Victorian times (I have read) Orpingtons have been prized for their fluffiness. Just take a look at this chicken butt, for example. But they were originally intended to be good dual-purpose birds: reliable layers, and still heavy enough to make good eating. Unfortunately, their weight has gone by the wayside as breeders prized fluffiness over meatiness. At fall fairs, for example, separate prizes are given for "beauty" and "utility" (i.e. weight). Which would you rather be known for?

So Ev is using all her research science skills to breed the utility back into the island's Orpington stock. But she can't do it all on her own, and was looking for someone to take over a flock of nine hens and a rooster, to care for them, breed them, provide her with ongoing data about their weight, and sell fertile eggs back to her for her project.

This is where Kim comes into the picture. Kim is a 20-year younger version of Ev: strong and resourceful. Maybe not as knowledgeable yet, but with a thirst for learning. And just as great a sense of humour. Kim convinced Ev she would be the perfect person to take over the flock, and so today we drove an hour-and-a-half up island to Ev's place to pick up the birds.

Ev has over 200 birds, most of them Barred Rocks, ranging freely in a very large fenced area. That presented something of a problem: catching the ten particular birds we were interested in. Fortunately Ev had lots of tricks up her sleeve, and what looked like a re-purposed wiener-roasting stick in her hand for hooking the birds' legs, and in no time we had the birds safely enclosed in two crates in the back of the truck.

Before we left Ev took Kim aside to give her suggestions about how to improve our fencing, and advice about roosts. Our Orpingtons will be heavy enough that they'll need lower than normal roosts. Flying up to the roost hasn't been a problem, but as they get heavier they can hurt their legs jumping down from too great a height. And Ev has very definite opinions about the importance of lots of ventilation in our coop, and wanted to be sure that both our existing flock and the new birds would be safely housed. That's typical of the chicken breeders we have come to know in the last few months: generous and helpful and genuinely interested in the well being of their birds.

When we got home it was getting dark, so we ushered the existing Orpintgon flock (our five pullets and the cockerel we will keep) into their section of the coop, and the Australorp trio (Gertie, Alice and Hector) into theirs, and then carefully unloaded the ten new birds. They weren't sure about it all, and quickly huddled together away from the door, and away from the clucking inspection of the old flock who had all flown up to their roosts to get a better view. Nothing like making the newcomers feel welcome...

Yesterday marked the anniversary of my first blog post: October 8, 2009. That was Kim's 50th birthday, and we spent the day putting a new roof on the wood shed. I'm amazed I've found things to write about every few days since then, and even more amazed other people seem to like reading what I write. I'm grateful for your interest, and so happy to have found friends among you. Thank you for giving me a reason to think more deeply about my days, and to create a record in words and pictures of this Mucky Boots time of my life. I'm glad you are a part of it.


Joleen said...

I love reading your blog it's a peaceful escape from my busy life. Hopefully, someday I can find peace and happiness like you have there! Thank you for sharing.

Natalie said...

I am so intrigued by all this Orpingpton news, and the project on hand, and then your anniversary news... I for one am very happy that you are writing and sharing. Congratulations on blogging for a year. From the moment I discovered Mucky Boots Farm it has been a welcome treat.
How timely too... Happy Thanksgiving!

The Witch said...

Congratulation on blogging for a year, and Happy belated Birthday to Kim.
This Buff Orpington flock will surely fit in fine. You'll probably have more work but I don't think you are shy about working.
Can't wait for following up-dates.
Happy Thanksgiving to you both!

jeanives said...

Hi both, and Happy Turkey Day. If you weren't blogging I am afraid we would have drifted about 50 miles apart, but instead I feel very connected with you. We are 16 for dinner tomorrow and will be toasting absent friends. Of course you could join us and not be absent!

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

Hi Miriam! I also really enjoy your blog and wish all the best for the "new kids" you have!! I look forward to reading all about them!

Flartus said...

So, it sounds like Kim got just what she wanted for her birthday this year: MORE CHICKENS!!

Congrats on the blogaversary, too. I look forward to saying the same thing next year!

Paula said...

I really do enjoy your blog, so thank you for writing it.

I just figured out that I am exactly three days older than Kim, which might explain why we have so much in common....although I am not the proud owner of a bunch of chickens.

That comes way later.

Good luck to Kim with her endeavor, and belated happy birthday, and many happy days to you for writing about.

Toni aka irishlas said...

I'm so excited for you two! New hens! Kim must be over the moon! What a great B-day present for a science teacher!

Congratulations on your one year blogiversary! I love your blog!

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