Note to Self: As a Chicken Addict in need of a 12 Step Program, never go to a Chicken Sale.
Last Saturday was the annual Pacific Poultry Show in Stockton, CA. I have missed this show for one reason or another for the last 3 years. This year it was marked on the calendar WAY in advance. I was able to coerce Farmer Jeff into attending as well as the new Executive Director of Sonoma County Farm Trails, Lyndie. We both came prepared with dog and cat carriers to haul our new babies back home. I went armed with my list of chosen breeds and I don't know if Lyndie knew what she wanted ahead of time.
Lyndie had heard about the sale building at the show. She had also heard, via the chicken chat-rooms (see what I mean about the 12 step program?), that you needed to get there early in order to buy the "good chickens" because they tended to "run out". DANG...CAN'T run out of chickens!!! That really put fear in my heart. The show opened at 8:30, so we had better get there at 8! You have to understand that I am not a morning girl. I struggle if I have to be up before 7:30. On this morning, I was out of bed at 5:04, had the bed made (another miracle) and was dressed by 5:15, ready to hit the road. Farmer Jeff was stunned and then a little smug. I knew I had blown it. No longer could I tell him I was physically incapable of rising with the sun. Sigh...
We arrived at the show around 8:15am only to find the sale building opened at 7 AM!!! Farmer Jeff parked the car for us so we could run in and start making deals. While parking the car, he observed a couple of chickens that had "gotten away" and were being chased down by their new owners. I was tickled...and I really mean TICKLED to see people walking around carrying their new chickens much like we imagine wanna-be starlets carry their chihuahuas in Beverly Hills. It really has made me rethink taking the chickens with me when I go visit people, but that is another story.
The excitement in the air of the sale building was like static electricity on panty hose, which was really something considering that the majority of the population was cold and wearing denim. There is something I just can't explain about how cool chickens are. They are like miniature, feathered live dinosaurs. I have attributed reptilian intelligence to them, but is that really an oxymoron? Don't they both have brains the size of peas?
I found a woman selling Silkie bantams out of a trailer. (Psst...Hey lady...wanna see some chickens? Rare colors?) Okay...I was suckered in. I bought a Silkie with "Splash" coloring (Blue and white spotted) and then a "Champagne" colored Silkie (has a little blue and copper/buff). (see them pictured above in the garden.)Then I went back into the bldg. and found a little female Mille Fleur Belgian Booted D'Uccle.
Now it was time to look for the breeds on the list. I looked up and down the aisles, especially looking for Spanish Penedescenca hens. They are known for laying VERY dark eggs, even darker than Marans. I didn't see anything I was looking for ...and then a man walked in with a carrier and unloaded a breeding trio of Silver Speckled Hamburgs. SCORE!!! I was, however, confronted with a problem. I really just wanted female egg layers, not a rooster. I was explaining, in my liberal white guilt voice just exactly why I wanted the Hamburgs. "They are listed on the American Livestock Breed Conservancy list and are considered endangered"...and then I knew I really looked dumb. I could practically "hear" the breeder thinking, "great, she thinks she is going to save the breed without a rooster. This I gotta see". This is when I ran outside to talk to Farmer Jeff and see if we could PRETTY PLEASE get another rooster? Actually, he was much easier to convince and we have made the decision to breed them! We already have a lean-to built next to the main coop where we could start a breeding nursery and the Silkies are supposed to be WONDERFUL mommies.
Not to leave you guessing, we have started with the naming of the birds. The little female Mille Fleur is now named Caterina to be the mate to our Mille Fleur rooster Lorenzo (deMedici). The little Splash hen is now Madison (named after the mermaid in the movie Splash, and the little Champagne hen is ...Bubbles.