Chickens! I got another one.

When last we met to talk about chickens I had just got rid of 3 of the 4 chicks I bought in the spring.  Because 3 of 4 of chicks turned out to be roosters.  I blame all of this on the fact that, until I was 25 years old, my favourite food to order in restaurants was chicken fingers.

It’s your basic Rooster revenge I’m dealing with here.  You know, poultry karma.

It was such a struggle, to raise the chicks and then end up with a bunch of cockerels,  that the woman who sold me the chicks (she breeds a variety of heritage breeds mainly for their kaleidoscope of egg colours) told me she’d give me one of the pullets she raised this spring.

So a few weeks ago, I drove 45 minutes straight into the country to fetch Mabel.

 

introducing-mabel-feature

 

Mabel is a Blue Copper Marans.  What that means is she’s a Marans (breed) chicken, and her colour is Blue Copper.  So her feathers are a blue hued gray with a ring of copper around her neck.  Only she’s missing most of her copper, which is why the breeder let me have her.  It’s the copper in the Marans neck that a lot of people think attributes to their very dark eggs.  Marans are known for laying dark, dark brown eggs, with some colours producing much darker eggs than others.

 

The Black Copper Marans (which is the type I bought in the spring) is known to lay the darkest of the Marans eggs.  And the Blue Copper Marans lays a slightly lighter, but sometimes speckled egg.  Speckles are pretty.  I’m O.K. with speckles. Unless they’re floating in my milk. And upon further inspection prove to be centipedes.

Please enjoy the beauty of Mabel.

 

Mabel

 

 

 

In case you were wondering, Mabel is as soft as a kitten.

 

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Her comb has healed nicely.  When she was first fully introduced to the other hens they tried to kill her.  It happens.  They chewed her comb.  It bled.  I put Wonderdust on it (stops the bleeding and masks the colour of blood) and after a few days they stopped picking on her and now she’s one of the gang.

 

You can see that hint of copper around her neck.

 

blue-copper-marans-hen-mabel-7

This is my very favourite part of every chicken.  The butt fluff.  I swear to God I could mash my face in there if it didn’t think it were so socially frowned upon.  And gross.

 

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blue-Copper-marans-hen-mabel-1

 

Marans have orange eyes.

 

blue-Copper-Marans-hen-mabel-4

 

Mabel is a softie.  You can pick her up and walk around with her.  When she gets scared she’ll smash her head under your arm.  I like this.  I think it’s fun.  Unfortunately for Mabel because of this I do my best to scare her on a daily basis.

 

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Like other Marans, Mable, my Blue Copper Marans has feathery legs and feet.  Just her outer toe actually.  Which is standard for the breed.

 

blue-copper-marans-feet

 

The day after I brought Mabel home she started laying eggs.  Always a good sign because it means she’s relaxed into her surroundings.  And it means I get eggs. The rest of the hens are moulting and not feeling like laying many eggs and the young hen I got in the spring (who you’ll be re-introduced to momentarily) won’t be laying for another month or so.

 

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Because I took the egg photos outside they appear lighter in the photo than they do in real life. They’re a dark brown with speckles.

 

egg-from-mabel

They’re good lookin’.

 

Speaking of good lookin’ it’s about time I introduced you (by name) to the one, single, Black Copper Marans spring chick that I got to keep.

 

Josephine-Feature

 

Josephine is black and french.  Hence the name Josephine.  Partly for Napoleon and Josephine, but mostly for Josephine Baker.  Yes, I know Josephine Baker wasn’t French but France is where she became famous for being a world class ass shaker.

I believe that my Josephine will also become famous.  Also because of her great ass.

 

josephine

 

She’s a beaut this one.

 

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Here you can see the beautiful copper ring around her neck.  This is what the ring around Mabel’s neck is supposed to be like, but isn’t.

 

black-copper-marans-hen-3

 

And like Mabel (but hopefully not like Josephine Baker) Josephine has fluffy feet.

 

black-copper-marans-feet

 

That brings my total chickens up to 5.  Two of them (Mabel and Josephine) will be my main egg layers, with the older chickens, Walnut, Cuddles and Cheez Whiz pulling up the slack with the few eggs they produce.  At 3 years old my original gals are moulting more and laying less.  In the first year, a hen lays almost every day.  By  year 3 they may go on a laying rampage of laying every other day for a couple of weeks and then close up shop for a couple of months without warning or reason.

In another year or two they’ll get a bit crankier, might not lay any eggs and will generally just lay around and eat lots of food.

In other words … they’ll pretty much become Roosters.

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120 Comments

  1. Karen says:

    I totally relate with your angst. I have nine chickens, I had ten but one hung herself, not sure if it was assisted by other members of the flock or not?, and decided to get a few more. I usually get a few every couple years so that I always have different ages, and I REALLY wanted some Blue Marans. I paid a fortune for them and got talked into a lavender tailless Araucana. Two weeks later and it looks like the Marans are all Roo’s and the Araucana is the most rooster like of all of them, but I have to wait five + more weeks to see if it actually is. Now I spend my days thinking of ways to give these roosters to unsuspecting people;)

  2. Jennie Lee says:

    Your chicken, Josephine (Baker) reminded me of my pet turtle, Etta (James) and the hamster I used to have, Isadora (Duncan). Finding just the right name for a pet is such fun!

  3. Lucie says:

    I love chickens with fur pants.

  4. june2 says:

    Not sure if it’s true but have heard that introducing a new hen to the coop works best if you slip them into their own new nest at night when it’s dark and the other hens are already in their nests. When the flock wakes up the next day, they accept her as if she’d always been there. Might be worth a try. Got that tip out of chef Gabrielle Hamilton’s memoir: Blood, Bones and Butter, a great book!

    • Karen says:

      Hi June2. I’ve read that too (both the book and the tip) and I don’t really think it’s true, lol. Chickens aren’t stupid and if they wake up and there’s an extra one they’re gonna know it and they’re gonna attack her. Mine integration lasted about 2 weeks, starting with just keeping the new hen within sight of the older hens. As they got used to each other I exposed them to each other for longer and longer periods. If I had just stuck her in the coop one night I’m sure she would have been nothing more than a carcass by the time I found her in the morning! Chickens are pretty vicious. Loved that book btw. ~ karen!

  5. She’s a beautiful girl congrats! And a bonus that she’s already laying. Is your other marans chick laying eggs yet? I’m hoping my black copper marans start laying eggs this Spring. I’ve been documenting their and my easter eggers growth since Day 1 https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/115541572952609738763/albums/6066129026680848753

    • Karen says:

      Mabel (the blue Marans) stopped laying after about 2 weeks, lol. As soon as the days got shorter and the other chickens went into yet another moult she closed up shop. The black one should have started a couple of weeks ago, but coming into lay at this time of year probably screwed things up for us a bit. I’m doing my best to make sure they have full crops by the time they go to bed so they have more energy for feathering an laying. I’ll have a look at your girls later! ~ karen

    • Karen says:

      Just took a quick look. GREAT photos of the chicks Paula. I for one know how hard they are to get, lol. ~ karen!

  6. Michele says:

    Thank you for the introductions to your newest chickens. They are beautiful. I, too, think that the fluffy butts are gorgeous!

  7. Korrine Johnson says:

    They are absolute stunners.

  8. Cussot says:

    I just love how their feet look like tarnished silverware.

  9. kardan says:

    They are both gorgeous Karen. Mabel looks so soft and sweet. Josephine not so much, but she is beautiful.

  10. Danny says:

    It’s hard not to notice that I am one of the few dudes among your readership. Not sure why, I’ll leave that to a focus group. I know chickens are cuddly, and make great pets etc…..but I’m wondering, do you eat your chickens?

    • Karen says:

      There are a few dudes around here. According to my stats there are more than anyone thinks. They just don’t comment. They probably feel outnumbered so good for you for pushing your way in. I do not eat my chickens. Mainly because they are pets. They have names and personalities and I know them. I do on the other hand eat chickens whose names I do not know. And I just try very hard not to think about it. ~ karen!

  11. Marion says:

    Wow they are beautiful! Mabel sounds like a definite charmer, and I’m expecting a video of Josephine shakin’ her stuff!!!

  12. izzy says:

    I love your chicken updates! Please keep them up!

  13. peg says:

    love all the photos,but the butt pics are soooooooooooooooo cute 😀

  14. Mindy says:

    I love Mabel. I don’t know what it is, but I love her.

  15. Gretchen Sexton says:

    I really can’t add anything new to the comments–but I just have to let you know that this fan of yours is simply blown away by the beauty of these birds and the spectacularness of your photos!

  16. Mike says:

    I came here to read about chickens, not centipedes in milk. Holy crud, please tell me that’s not something that has ever happened.

  17. Barbie says:

    Beautiful Chickens, Beautiful Eggs, Beautiful Asses! You had me at “I got another One”

    I smiled and giggled all through this one! So happy for you!

  18. Bernadette says:

    I must say, Mabel is a beauty. Even if her copper ruff is unsatisfactory. I hope she lays the shit out of her speckled eggs and shows that breeder what she’s missing. How is our Cuddles doing? I haven’t heard anything to indicate her health isn’t up to par. I’m glad she clucked through.

  19. Shauna says:

    They’re stunningly beautiful. LOVE! All three of my chickens are on strike. The two older ones (and by older I only mean 2 years old or so) are moulting, the third is much younger and should be laying quite well, but she lost her sister awhile back. I honestly don’t think that’s it anymore. I mean, c’mon, chickens aren’t that smart, they can’t remember months back that something bad happened. I think she’s just on strike because the others are too. I’m thinking about putting a plastic egg in the nesting box, just to remind them what they’re here for. I know the days are shorter and all that, but it’s not like it’s cold here, or even overcast. It’s sunny San Diego for heaven’s sake. They can lay an egg once a week at least! I haven’t had an egg in over a MONTH! We may have to, gasp, buy eggs!!!

    • Karen says:

      I have a light come on from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m., but it gets dark here at 5. 12 hours isn’t quite enough sunlight for them to lay so I’m thinking of extending it an hour or so into the night too. Just not so long that when the light goes out they’re stumbling around in the dark not being able to find their roost, lol. ~ karen!

  20. Ruth Vallejos says:

    Lovely girls both!

    I understand your compulsion about the butt fluff – I have the same problem with baby toes (SQUEEEEEEEE!). We both must endeavor to act within social norms. (Hah!, Like that’s gonna happen!)

  21. LazySusan says:

    Both Josephine and Mabel are absolutely gorgeous! Josephine, with her almost iridescent feathers, looks so regal, but so does Mabel with her storm-tossed coloring, and she DOES look sooooooo soft, you can almost feel it just looking at the photo! And the eggs she lays! Those are some pretty amazing eggs. They look HUGE, but part of that is probably you’re little hand size. Do you let them roam your property freely in nice weather? I can’t remember if you’ve ever said whether or not you do, but I do think the fence encloses the back yard, otherwise why have to heft that cabinet over it!

  22. Small Town Girl says:

    Your girls are so beautiful!! Seriously, how did you get them to pose?? They look like supermodels! I can’t wait to have chickens of my own!

  23. Angie S says:

    They are absolutely gorgeous, and I’m in complete agreement, both of your ladies have amazing butts!!!

  24. Meg says:

    Yeah part of my escape plan from the terrible grind and collapse of the VFX industry is definitely home in the country — with chickens. (Among other critters. Like a pony?) I’m curious – besides just hanging out with them for companionship, how much time do you actually spend on chicken “maintenance” generally?

  25. Elen Grey says:

    Josephine after Josephine Baker. Love that.

  26. Pat Kichinko says:

    I am a Crazy Cat Lady, born and bred. I’m down to just nine cats now, but I’m still a card-carrying C.C.L. However, after seeing these beautiful chickens, I have made a place in my heart for them. Notice: I said heart, not stomach. While I do like my chicken dinners, these beautiful ladies need only grace the earth with their presence.

    In other words, I love Mabel and Josephine.

  27. Mary Werner says:

    Those Eggs! Are they coppery dark brown with PURPLE spots or is it just my screen? The iridescent feather colors are mesmerizing! I miss my chickens so much. The soft cooing noises they make when searching for bugs and seeds are so beautiful to listen to. Makes up for the show off bragging squawk when they lay an egg.

  28. Stacy says:

    Left field question… Speaking of molting… Do you ever save some feathers? Would you ever mail them to readers/sponsors?

  29. Jackie says:

    Karen – Thanks for sharing your babies with us. I’ve never had chickens & never knew much about them. Thanks for teaching us about them. I just love the names you come up with. Good luck to all of you.

  30. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    They are both so pretty Karen..I never saw a blue chicken before..

  31. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    Welcome to the family, Mabel and Josephine. They are certainly beatiful girls…especially those fluffy chicken butts. OMGOSH, how cute! Go ahead, in the privacy of your own coop, experience it.

    Now I know why you have gone through all this for those beautiful eggs. Amazing! Thanks for sharing.

  32. Leslie says:

    Really pretty eggs from a very pretty bird. I love the blue color.

  33. Bols says:

    They are both very pretty. One of my greyhounds was called Mabel (she came with the name), I mostly called her Maby Baby.
    I really like the hint of teal on Josephine’s black feathers. The eggs are very pretty, too.

  34. Ev Wilcox says:

    The eggs are as pretty as the chickens! Josephine and Mabel are gorgeous. Glad the other ladies have now allowed them into the inner circle. Also, really glad that cuddles is well now. Thanks for the great photos!

  35. wendy says:

    Despite the fact that I find chickens somewhat disturbing (all birds actually–something to do with the cold eyes and relationship with dinosaurs), I seem to have fallen in love with Mabel upon first sight. She may not have the exotic beauty of Josephine, but she has something. Maybe it’s because I love the name Mabel . . . or maybe I like the idea of some little creature burying its head in my armpit. In any event, she is absolutely lovely.
    –Wendy

  36. kari says:

    I love your chickens and their names! My daughter is Camille Joesphine, we are not French either, but she is a spitfire and so it suits her perfectly! I love a fluffy chicken bum photo and a good chicken name! kudos!

  37. Cathy Reeves says:

    That’s not a chopping block; it’s their pedestal!
    Your gals are so gorgeous, Karen.
    Heh, …butt fluff….

  38. jainegayer says:

    Mabel is so pretty and I love that you carry her around and scare her just so she will cuddle into you.
    And Josephine! Wow! What a looker! I remember seeing a B&W photo of Josephine Baker wearing nothing but feathers. I think they were fans. I’m sure your Josephine will do her namesake proud.

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