The breed I chose.
Black Copper Marans

A couple of years ago I saw a picture on the Internet of a dark, dark brown egg. I thought it was a chocolate egg actually, ready and waiting to be dragged through a jar of peanut butter.

But it wasn’t. It was from a particular breed of chicken called a Marans.

I have been obsessing over having one of those chickens ever since. For me, half the fun of owning backyard chickens is having eggs that are colours people have never seen before. That and being able to wear a live chicken as a corsage at a moment’s notice if need be.

But with a a smallish coop and 4 hens already I couldn’t even think of adding another chicken.  Well I could think about it but I couldn’t do anything about it.

And then Norma died.

I know.  I’m sorry to shock you.  But it’s true.  And that’s one of the horrors of owning chickens.  They up and die on you, oftentimes without warning.  It was sad and awful and I cried.  She had a prolapsed vent, which is something chickens who lay big eggs (and Norma’s were HUGE) can be prone to.  I know a lot of people just  throw their chickens in the garbage or burn them when they die but I just couldn’t do that so I built her a little crate, (O.K., it was a coffin, but saying I built a coffin for my poultry makes me sound like a nutjob)  put her in it and buried her in a safe place.

After an appropriate period of mourning, I started looking for a replacement for Norma.  And what I started looking for … was a Marans.

(Quick note … when you buy chickens you either buy hatching eggs to hatch them in an incubator yourself, day old chicks, or pullets. Pullets are 5 month (or so) old hens that have just started laying. Getting a pullet is great because you don’t have to go through the bother or raising chicks which can be time consuming, but not a lot of people sell pullets. Chicks are much easier to come by, especially for the rarer breeds.)


Marans are a rare (in North America) French heritage breed. They come in a variety of recognized colours with the Black Copper Marans being the most popular.

Now a bit about those dark eggs. People take them very seriously. There’s even a colour chart.


The egg colour produced by the Marans hen has to be a #4 on the chart or darker to even be recognized as a Marans.

Anything in the 8 or 9 range is very rare and more of a mistake than anything. Hens are most likely to lay this colour of egg in the beginning of their laying cycle and right after a moult. Then the eggs will consistently get lighter, but they can’t get any lighter than a #4.

People breed Marans with the goal of getting the darkest eggs possible. Which make sense, because even though they’re supposed to be very nice, gentle birds, it’s the eggs we’re all after.

If you Google Marans eggs you see egg cartons filled with dark, DARK eggs, but that isn’t the norm and if that’s what you’re hoping for you’ll likely be disappointed.  It really bugs me actually that people post those pictures but don’t put the disclaimer that these eggs are rare and won’t always look like that.  Kind of like when people post only the the *really* good pictures of themselves having great times on Twitter.  Really?  Where’s the picture of you where your lazy eye is noticeable and your kid has thrown up on your hair?


I strapped on my typing fingers, headed over to Kijiji and started my search. I just realized I’m already lieing to you.

Kijiji WASN’T where my search began. It began at a local farm that I discovered had Marans. So I sent them an email. Apparently they aren’t email people because they never responded. So I drove past the farm. Apparently they aren’t real farmers because they weren’t outside. A real farmer is outside from morning until night. They wear overalls, checked shirts and chew straw. Sometimes they have their hands in their pockets and stare quizzically at big broken pieces of machinery.

I saw none of this as I sped past the farm.

So from there I went to a farmer friend who knew someone else who had Marans. This also led nowhere. I’m now starting to think that the Marans breed is the unicorn of chicken breeds. But I knew they were real. I’d seen pictures of them. Mind you I’ve also seen pictures of unicorns.

O.K., so it was at THIS point that I headed over to Kijiji. I found several people selling them, but they seemed sketchy to me for some reason. I was basing my judgement on how they wrote their post, what they had to say about their hens and whether or not they spelled Marans correctly. If they called their chicken a “Maran”, they were scratched off my list of potentials. There’s supposed to be an “S” on the end of Marans.

My list quickly got whittled down to one breeder. A woman who was fairly close, just a few towns over from me. She was VERY into chicken breeding and had just listed a first spring hatching of Black Copper Marans. I was at the point in my search where I was just kind of browsing around and suddenly I was in a position where I had to make a decision. It was like browsing on the MLS and finding your dream home even though you had no real intentions of moving.

I emailed her, she emailed me, I emailed her back, I himmed and hawed. Then the chickens were gone. Sold. Shit.

You might be wondering why I didn’t just snap em up like a pair of half price shoes. Well, the truth is buying a chick isn’t quite that easy. For one thing you can’t buy just one chick. You have to buy at least two and 3 or 4 are better. That’s because chicks are flock creatures by nature and could die of loneliness if there’s only one of them. They need each other for protection, warmth and companionship.

The other problem was, Black Copper Marans are very difficult to sex. So if you get one chick it could very well be a rooster, which aren’t known for their fantastic egg laying ability. Plus if you get a rooster, you have to figure out a way to get RID of the rooster. If you get 3 or 4 chicks the chances of you getting a hen are greater and if one happens to die, you still have a few left.

Since I only needed one hen, the prospect of suddenly having to raise several of them kind of made my head explode and I just couldn’t commit.

A month or so went by and I couldn’t stop thinking about those chicks. So on a whim I emailed the woman back and asked if she happened to hatch anymore unicorn birds.

She said “As a matter of fact, yes”. She had some in her incubator right now that would be ready in a few days. I said I’d take all the Marans she had. I now had a plan.

I have a couple of friends who have chickens.  I contacted both of them to see if they’d be interested in a hen once I raised them.  They both said yes.  So if I have too many hens in my group of chicks, I know they have good homes to go to.  As far as the roosters go, if I get any of those ,they are a rare and in demand enough breed that I’ll have no trouble selling them on Kijiji.


In terms of how they look the Black Copper Marans is well … black. They’re distinguished as Black “Copper” Marans by the copper ring around their necks of the hen, which you can only barely see in this picture.

The below pictures, which is a rooster, shows how beautifully colourful they are.

The Marans fit my climate … they were bred originally in a cold damp climate, so they’re good in the cold winters of Ontario.

The other distinguishing feature in the Marans is their feathered legs. Which I love. Which is ironic, because when things begin sprouting out of my own legs I hate it. Their temperament is nice and not aggressive like a Rhode Island Red can be and they lay fairly regularly but not nearly as much as the more common breeds that are bred specifically for laying a lot of eggs.

There’s one of me, and 4 chickens laying eggs. I can only eat so many pavlovas, so I’m O.K. with this particular breed only laying 3 or 4 eggs a week as opposed to 5 or 6.

The one thing no one tells you when you are looking to buy a Marans is this … while most breeds start to lay eggs between 4 and 6 months of age, Marans have been known to wait until they’re 8 or 9 months old. Of course there are exceptions.

So now that you know what chicken I chose you can go on with your day.

Tomorrow, I will have 20 photos of the chicks looking impossibly cute. This cute phase only lasts a couple of weeks before they hit the gawky teenage phase.  At which point, I will have 20 more photos for you.  Perhaps one of them will have a unicorn horn strapped to her head.

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  1. Mel says:

    So, I’m reading this post, scrolling down, I’m at the photo of the rooster when my husband walks past, doubles back, and I quote:
    “I leave you alone with the Internet for 5 minutes and there you are looking at a big black cock. And men get a bad rap.”

    • Karen says:

      LOL! If you look long and hard enough (heh) on my site you’ll also find a picture of a Monkey penis. You should get that up (heh) the next time he walks past. ~ karen!

  2. victoria says:

    Great read Karen! And those chickens are beautiful. Looking forward to seeing the eggs!

  3. Cynthia Jones says:

    Oh my gawd. Who wouldn’t want a Don King. I figure chickens and dogs are put on this earth to entertain us and bring joy. Yikes. I just came home from the feed store and I bought a bag of newborn chick feed. A 5kg bag.
    One step closer to commitment again.

  4. kelliblue says:

    Holy sky is falling. Well. I’m now waiting for the day you get either:

    a Bumble:

    a Don King:

    or one of these “chickens”:


  5. Linda S. in NE says:

    I am also saddened to learn of your loss of Norma. I know the girls have helped you get through some recent tough times. No matter how long we have our pets, it is never long enough. I’m looking forward to hearing the trials and tribulations of the new cuties. Good luck with them.

  6. Kristin Ferguson says:

    Sorry, I should have read the other comments; clearly you are aware of the difficulties of adding to a flock.

  7. Kristin Ferguson says:

    I have one of those Black Copper Marans myself! I have now had two. The first one got snatched by a possum about 18 months ago (because I had forgotten to close the coop one night; he just waddled in and grabbed the nearest hen and feasted on her. I felt awful.) So I went back to Chickens Galore and got another! I love the little pajama legs. They have finally grown back in after initially being pecked out by the older hens when she was first introduced to the flock.

    Which, by the way, is something you will need to be aware of, Karen (you probably already are.) Introducing a new bird can sometimes break your heart. The older, established hens can be really vicious. And even the lowest in the old pecking order might very well see an opportunity to advance up a notch by beating up on the new birds. My favorite hen started out as the lowest, and tended to be bullied a little bit by the others, but when I brought in new birds, she was just as mean as the others, perhaps meaner. Then, later, somehow all the birds booted her back down to the bottom and I had a very traumatic few weeks where I had to keep her in my shower at night to protect her (unless I wanted to rise at the crack of dawn to let them out before they started attacking her–it wasn’t much of an issue when they were outside the coop; she could run away and hide from the others.) Everything seems okay now, mostly because I bought “peepers” for the worst peckers, which are like little sunglasses made of plastic that block their forward vision, making it harder for them to aim for poor Tippie’s comb. So just be prepared for a bit of ugliness when you do introduce your new beauty to the others. They may rip her feathers right off her little legs :(

    Good luck! And, have you seen the olive-colored eggs? They crossed a chocolate egger and a green egger and got some pretty spectacular results! You can find more about them on My Pet Chicken. You may decide you need one of those, too! Your coop is huge compared to mine, so it surprises me that you don’t think you should have more than four. I have five. But they do free-range all day, every day, so they’re only in the coop at night.

  8. Cynthia Jones says:

    Now that you’ll be scratching all day, I will allay your fears with a suggestion to get some DEET-based insect repellent to spray yourself in a cloud of once a month and twice a year. I know, I know, someone will want you to use eucalyptus oil or rub a pink crystal on yourself instead, but after getting attacked by bird mites I now go for the big guns. No more frollicky in the forest for me. I know what lies beneath and it wasn’t easy to get rid off.

    If I get chickens again, all work will be done in rubber galoshes, rubber gloves, a shower cap. a mask, a hazmat suit that I burn afterwards and at least a litre of neurotoxins sprayed generously all over myself.

    PS the mites did not come from my chickens, they came from a ‘friends’ house verandah frequented by wild birds, and not hosed down ever, as the ‘friend’ believed in water conservation. I will never look at chickens, mulch or wild birds the same way again. Or leaves, branches, possums………

    I told you I realised there was only room for one neurotic in my garden.

  9. Bols says:

    The black Marans is quite the looker! wow, I would have never thought a hen can be so striking.
    I hope everything goes well with the chickies and that they will be accepted by the old-timers.

    at one point, I think that there the possbility of your town banning the rearing of chickens …. was it last year, or two years ago? What happened? Did you ever write an update on that? Obviously it’s ok since you wouldn’t be having your coop but I am curious to find out.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bols. Oh no, it’s still illegal. Never has been legal. I didn’t know that when I got the chickens but decided to let my neighbours decide. I told them all and they all said they would love to have chickens around. So I kept the chickens. ~ karen!

      • Grammy says:

        That is wonderful to hear, Karen! It’s legal to have six hens in our neighborhood with large lots, but if local ordinances are so dumb as to ban back yard chickens, it’s good to have neighbors who aren’t going to be calling City Hall on you.

        I found out my neighbor had chickens when I awoke one morning to clucking not far from my open bedroom window. I said later that day, “Did you get chickens?” She began to apologize and I stopped her mid-sentence to say I loved the sound and it’s not going to bother us.

        It’s a lovely sound, and the coop is nearer to the fence on our side than to the other neighbors, so I think everyone is happy about them. Roosters are banned, and that’s fine, even though they are so handsome.

      • Bols says:

        Ok, my old confused brain got the story wrong.
        That’s great that your neighbours had no objections. I have blessed with very nice neighbours on both sides so I am guessing they would not mind either (although I am intending to branch out into chickens – maybe when I retire). :-)

  10. Kim says:

    So are you going to do a reader poll on : “The breed I chose” ? lol

    What zone are you ? Do you have any problems with frostbitten combs?

    RIP Norma… (I bury my chooks too when the need arises)

    • Karen says:

      I’m in Zone 6a. I had one tiny little bit of a comb get frostbite this year. Just the very, very tip. I’m not sure how it happened. I haven’t checked it lately actually to see if it fell off. Since then I got a ceramic heater for the coop. This was an UNBELIEVABLE winter. Freezing, freezing cold! ~ karen

  11. Marion says:

    So sorry to hear about Norma. The Marans sound amazing, and they definitely are beautiful! I hope if you do end up with a rooster he goes to a good home where you can go visit him (and post pictures of his handsome tail feathers!)

  12. Kim from Milwaukee says:

    Karen, Marans’s sure are beautiful! I feel like a hobbit saying that, though. I’m assuming that you won’t keep a rooster for fertilized eggs or for food?

    I’ve been reading up on raising chickens since, thanks to you, that’s something I’d like to do someday…and I saw a Mother Earth article from the 70’s about the egg shape predicting the sex of the chick. Maybe you can eyeball those hatching eggs to see if they are ‘pointed’ (indicating male) or ‘oval’ (female)…..and just have the pointy ones for breakfast? Just a thought. Not sure how accurate that theory is, but it sure changed how I look at eggs…it’s quite obvious now which is which once you know this little old farmer’s wife trick.

    Thank you for sharing your chickens, by the way. I’m glad I’ll have some one day, and I’ll have you to ask for advise!! You’re the best!

  13. Grammy says:

    Thanks for all the fascinating info on chickens. I don’t raise them, but my next-door-neighbor does. She is such a lovely neighbor that periodically I answer my door to find her standing there with fresh eggs for me to enjoy with none of the work. And now I know which of her girls produces the lovely dark brown egg that often shows up in any batch. I always find it exciting when we get one or two of those beauties.

    Sorry to hear about Norma. Add me to the list of those who don’t find it odd at all that you buried her. Norma deserved it, and you needed to do it. Now good luck with your beautiful new babies!

  14. Laura Bee says:

    So sad to hear about Norma, hope she is beside Lucky.
    One of your best posts so far! And always interesting reading the comments.

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  16. Shauna says:

    So, when I had a chicken pass and I had to get a new chicken, every place told me I would need to get two because the new one(s) will get pecked on. So, I think that’s what you’re doing, but not entirely sure based on your post. You do plan on keeping two right? If not, that one will get pecked and pecked and pecked.

    Sorry to hear about Norma. I still am not sure why two of my girls died. I started with 3, then one died, so I bought 2 more pullets, then another one (the leader of the pack actually) quite suddenly got sick and died, so then I bought 2 Easter Eggers from a different farm and they’re doing quite well, although one of them is still getting pecked a fair amount, but thankfully she has her other Easter Egger sister or I don’t think she would have made it.

  17. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    So so sorry about sweet Norma..No you are not crazy..I would have been shocked if hadn’t buried her..Good luck with the chicks..Are you going to keep the first good egg and put it on the shelf with the other one??

  18. Amie says:

    Do it! I would love to see a unicorn horn on a chicken! Don’t forget some kind of sparkles or rainbow mane.

  19. jeannie B says:

    Have you named your new chicks yet? I feel rather sad for the beautiful roosters though. Beautiful but noisy I guess. And I know they can be quite aggressive. I’ve never heard of a “hen fight” but I have heard about “cock fights”. Off with their heads!

  20. Jackie says:

    I love your new chicks. I sometimes wish we had chickens but we have 2 dogs & they are enough to take care of. Thanks for sharing them with us & I’m looking forward to more pictures of them as they grow – and more stories about them. Sorry to hear about Norma. It’s always painful to lose a beloved pet, no matter what they are. Good luck with your new babies.

  21. Kathy says:

    Karen, you make me smile every day and I learn something new when I’m smiling.

  22. Leslie says:

    Oh, yay!!!!! Congratulations. You’re right, getting “real” birds is tough! Marans are for sure on my list of “get real birds, not hatchery birds.” I want the most colorful basket of eggs possible.

  23. Jodi T. says:

    NOT NORMA!!!! She was my favorite. I’m so sorry to hear about her going to chicken heaven…

    Good luck with the new babies. I can’t wait to watch them grow, and hopefully the girls will welcome them with open wings. :)

  24. Ruth says:

    “…they were bred originally in a cold damp climate” I wouldn’t have guessed it because I’m having to chase those exact birds out of my corn patch on a daily basis. I probably have a photo of one of the cocky roosters somewhere on my hard drive.

    We call them ‘common fowls’ and they just ‘free range’ all over the place. I can never figure out where they lay eggs if they do. Baby chick kinda just appear out of the blue. You never discover they have owners until you kill one of them; and then the ‘colourful’ language just springs forth from the absentee owners. JA expletives are lengthy 3 and 4 syllable things…

    To be clear, I have never killed a fowl that didn’t belong to me (and I have none now), so I’m not guilty of this, but there are JA folk who will curry your chicken in no time if they stray. There are also those who will run over a male goat who attempts to cross a rural road without his owner… for the sole purpose of making ‘mannish water’ and curried goat meat (Ask Google about mannish water…. you know you want to know….)

    I digress, but my point was supposed to have been this: I wonder how they survive the tropics. Hmmm…. or are these tropical cousins by another name.

    • Ruth says:

      Oh – forgot to say – the common fowl eggs I have seen fall in the 4 through 6 range of colour.

      (Blame my hormones for today’s ramblings…..)

      • Karen says:

        LOL. Maybe the ones you have wandering around are mutts that happen to lay dark eggs. Feel free to shove one in a box and mail one to me. ~ karen!

        • Ruth says:

          Hehehe… I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to mail chickens from JA (especially when you’re not the owner), but if I ever find the photo I took I’ll send it via email.

          That just reminded me that you totally passed over my last email to you (it was probably hormone-based too), but it’s all good. Missing your newsletters….

        • Karen says:

          !! Last email? Uch. I’m sorry. I get SO many emails and I mark them all with a flag to remind me to go back and answer them when I have more time. You must be in a batch that I haven’t responded to yet. ~ karen!

        • Ruth says:

          Okay…. it was dated Dec. 26, 2013 and entitled ‘Cubits’… related to the last newsletter for that year. :-D

    • Laura Bee says:

      When I was in cooking school, a student brought his mom’s curry blend from home – we were making Indian curry though – not Jamaican. The teacher said it was excellent, but couldn’t give full marks because it was the wrong curry! I still think he should have got bonus points – it was that good! My point is – I’d let you curry my chicken if I had one :)

      • Ruth says:

        I love a good curry… Indian, Jamaican, Thai, every other variety there is…… :-D

        If there’s turmeric in there, I love it. These days my dishes are meatless, but I still love me some curry. :-D

  25. Tracey says:

    Hi Karen,
    I’m very sorry for your loss of Norma. It’s hard to lose our pets who are important members of the family.
    I don’t comment everyday but I want you to know I’m here reading everyday. I’m so excited about your new babies and look forward to seeig the chick cam. I watched the video yesterday a whole bunch of times!!
    Your posts brighten my day, you’re such a funny and clever writer.
    Thank you!!

  26. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    Thank you for a very informative post. I didn’t know. I was thinking about getting Silver Wyandottes. I think they are a pretty bird and I like their brown egg. Until now, I didn’t know you could have a chocolate egg! I’ll have to do some thinkin’ on this subject. Your chics are so darn cute and look like they will grow into real beauties! The forever leg warmers got me, this is all so very exciting. Can’t wait for the pics. Thanks for another great post. Sorry about Norma.

  27. Debbie from Illinois says:

    I love what I learn here! Sorry about Norma.

  28. Corinna says:

    Sorry for your hen loss. :( I’m not looking forward to that at all.

    I guess you didn’t question if they can just go in the organic recycling bin, eh?

  29. Amber says:

    Hi Karen, so sorry to hear about Norma. I know they are all so special to you.
    I had wondered if you would choose Aust-os or marans. I went with the A’s thinking of course who doesn’t want a non violent dominant hen who likes to cuddle and turns blue in the sunlight? Eggs shmeggs! Of course, it is always about the eggs.
    Have you watched the BBC The Private Lives of Chickens? Wonderful stuff!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Amber. And I think I have watched that, but I’m going to have to Google it to make sure. I’m almost positive. ~ karen!

  30. Ev Wilcox says:

    Sorry about Norma. I would have thought it odd if you didn’t bury her. We have cement building block markers where three of our dog friends rest. How exciting to see the pic of the black hen-what a beauty! I so hope you get two hens and that your girls go easy on them. You can use a Dremel on the eggs (sounds like they will be hard to crack!) to make the holes on them for blowing them out. What pretty egg basket decorations you will have! A new white white white kitchen and new black chickens! Yea!

  31. Mary Kay says:

    Karen – I am so sorry to hear about Norma. And you are not crazy to bury her – I would of considered her a pet and done the same. But I am so happy to hear about your new feathered friends and can’t wait to watch them grow and see some of the beautiful eggs! Best of luck with the new girls!

    • Pat says:

      Yup, Norma would have had a lovely burial at my house as well. We’re a bunch of saps for our animals. Hope that helps.

  32. Tigersmom says:

    Oh, and I’m so sorry about Norma.

  33. Tigersmom says:

    PS – The feathered legs undo me. It’s like their wearing little chaps or leg warmers!

  34. Tigersmom says:

    Congratulations on your new babies.

    I wish you much more success integrating your chickens than I have had integrating two female dogs that are jealous and both want to be the alpha dog. Bitches.

  35. Ann says:


    It made me so happy to see how much good info you found on Marans. I wanted the Black Copper but ended up with Blue Marans. Mine lay pretty dark eggs the first few of their laying cycle then lighten up considerably. But what a lot of people don’t know is that the egg from a marans has a shell with a much tighter matrix. Meaning nothing can get thru the shell, such as bacteria. Even after the bloom is gone in 7-10 days. So when ever I am going to use a raw egg for anything I grab their eggs over my other chickens, just to not take any chances.

    I recently had to combine 2 flocks of chickens. They had been free ranging together during the day for approx a year. But separate coops at night. They knew each other very well. At first when I combined them they did great. Then they have had a period of adjustment with them picking on each other a bit. But it is not the old flock picking on the new. They simply re-established a pecking order, by some mysterious manner, and the stronger pick on the weaker.

    • Karen says:

      HUh! Well consider me one of those who didn’t know that. I knew their shell looked different (and in fact is silky and shiny looking as opposed to the matte chalky look of regular eggs). Thanks! ~ karen

  36. Jody says:

    Mon Dieu! French Chicks. I can’t wait for the posts of making omelette du frommage and soufflé.

  37. Erin says:

    Your most made me squeal. I squealed! This is my breed – we have Black Copper Marans!

    Several years ago I found myself obsessed with the dark eggs in the bottom row of your color chart. (Spoiler: I, too, was duped into thinking this was the norm.) We contacted a woman in the Finger Lakes on Craigslist (right?!) and set out one sunny Saturday to get some eggs. We incubated 2.5 dozen and had about a 50% success rate (which, apparently, is quite good with this breed).

    Right now we have eleven hens, one rooster and eight chicks – two of our hens became broody in April and we decided to let them sit on eggs. They make great mamas! This week, they’re bringing the babies outside and teaching them to use the ramp.

    Oh, and most of our eggs fall in the 4-6 range.

    I will anxiously await twenty impossibly cute photos!

  38. Susan Preston says:

    P.s. Wish we could keep a rooster! He’s BEAUTIFUL!! Tee hee!

    • Karen says:

      I know! He’s a good lookin’ roo. ~ karen!

    • Malaena says:

      You can, I know this is a REALLY late post but try out the No-Crow Rooster collar. I got that for my boy because he’s gonna make NOISE. Make sure you get it to the breed specification, and the only site I got it from was My Pet Chicken, which is also where I got my baby chickies.

  39. Susan Preston says:

    Oh!!oh!! I’m so excited!! I might just have to drop in and see the new babies!! I can hardly wait!! Squealing here!! What a way to start my day!! Xoxo

  40. Cynthia Jones says:

    They’re beautiful Karen and I think the rooster has the most magnificent colouring. Wouldn’t that make a great winter jacket. I wonder if the rooster mind a slight pluck before being shipped off to Farmer Joe’s.

    What a great post you wrote. I love chickens too, but find the whole thing a little daunting. I got day olds the first time and raised them and they were delightful. The breed I got was Silky Bantams. They have fluffy feet too.

    They loved me and came running to mummy for food and nibbles when they were free range roaming in the garden.

    One died and the other two turned out to be roosters so they had to go live on the farm 10 miles out of town. (really they did).

    I decided the next time to get pullets to be sure I got hens. What a mistake that was. They were total nut jobs and ran screaming up the backyard every time I walked outside the back door. I guess they were not used to humans. The whole experience was ver unsatisfying. Then they started to do these huge half poo/half eggs called Thunder Eggs on the concrete slab just outside the back door. They had the whole garden to do their monstrosities in, for crying out loud.

    Anyhoo, it was all getting too much and I decided there was only room for one neurotic in my garden so I gave them away to a nice little boy who had lost his chickens in a flood.

    I am curious how you deal with the bedding inside their house. What do you use, how deep do you make it and how often do you clean it out? I tried the deep layer method and the shallow method which needs cleaning out once a week. I am totally paranoid about chicken mites which live in the mulch so I need an exact answer. Don’t believe that chicken mites cannot infest humans cos they can and do. As I live in the tropics, the mite issue might be only relevant here.

    I guess i need to do a search and find all of your past chicken posts. Sorry if I gave you any chicken mite paranoia. I am guessing it would not be a problem in your climate.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cynthia! I use the deep litter method with pine shavings in their indoor run. I clean it out twice a year. In their outdoor run I use straw and clean it out around once a month. I’m not sure if that helps you in any way, but I now know that I might be covered in mites. ~ karen!

    • Shauna says:

      I use food grade diatomaceous earth in my coop and the chicken food to control the mites.

    • Malaena says:

      If you ever decide to get chickens again and end up with a rooster or several, just go to My Pet Chicken online and get the No-Crow Rooster Collar. It’s awesome, works, and comes in all sizes. Makes the males sound as quiet as hens so you can keep em anywhere if the city allows it.

  41. Auntiepatch says:

    So sorry to hear about Norma. Good luck with the chicks.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Auntiepatch. It was AWFUL! But, that’s part of what you get when you have any pets or animals, right. :( ~ karen

      • Malaena says:

        I had a funeral for my iguana, and will for my chickens. I have three BEAUTIFUL black copper Marans that are so well behaved as far as chickens go. These ones are not my meaties, they are just pets of 8 in the flock (1 Black Copper Marans rooster named The Doctor and 2 Marans hens; Molly and Dolly, 2 Silver-laced Wyandottes; Skunk and Louise, 2 Easter-eggers; Skye and Eep, and one Cream Legbar(bright blue eggs!) named Thelma. Thelma and Louise were supposed to be the Wyandottes because they looked identical and different from Skunk, but that’s okay. Thelma and Louise were not related, anyway! Skunk and The Doctor are my spoiled babies because they react the most, but I would be heartbroken to lose any of my girls or boy.

  42. judy says:

    I love your posts…they are so gutsy and competent in every task (some quite daunting to a man much less a gal) But you just keep on keeping on and I believe that is a wonderful strategy for a life well and fully lived.

  43. TucsonPatty says:

    Wow! I had no idea…and I grew up on a farm. With chickens, when I was little. How cool is all this! I have a broken laptop and then a desktop computer that for some reason doesn’t like to show YouTube videos, so I Googled quail chicks and penguin chicks and turken chicks and wow do I know a lot of stuff now! I think these guys are very handsome, but I hope you have ladies to lay your eggs.

  44. Kat says:

    Excellent info on this particular post Karen and good info on Toni’s comment also! Are the coop cams ready yet? LOL!

  45. Call Me Patty says:

    What a good and interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Patty! I figure most people like learning about chickens even if they don’t have them. It’s pretty fascinating stuff! At least I think so, lol. ~ karen!

  46. Donna says:

    How interesting, I do not keep chickens, but if I did I would want MaranS, they are very good looking. Do the eggs taste any different or is it just the shell that is unique?? Here’s wishing you good luck with the little fluff balls, hope you get some good layers and not all roosters. Love your blogs, read you every day.

  47. Toni says:

    Hi Karen, I’m a long time reader, but I don’t think I’ve commented before. I raise chickens on Vancouver Island, and just LOVE them. We have chicks right now that look exactly like those Marans chickies, but ours are Australorps being raised by their momma.

    Just wanted to warn you, in case no one else has, that one young Maran hen is very likely to get picked on by your Rhodies. You may really want to consider keeping at least 2 (if you end up with 2 girls) so that they have a friend, or seeing if your chicken-keeping friends would take one or two of your older Rhodies when you introduce the youngsters to the flock, just to shake up the dynamics a bit. You’ve probably read the challenges of integrating new hens into an established flock–these issues can really be magnified by age/size/breed differences and by having a small flock overall. I’m sure you’ve thought about all this in your research, but just wanted to make sure. Chickens can be very brutal to each other, sadly.

    Good luck with your chickies–Marans eggs are indeed very special in person!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Toni! Yes, I’ve already hatched a plan. heh. If there are 2 layers I probably will keep them both. I only have 1 slightly aggressive hen in my bunch (which are actually mutts … part RIR and part Ameraucana). I’m already letting the older hens see the chicks. I bring them out into the hot sun for 10 minutes a day within eyesight of the other flock. Because I have space issues, once the chicks are 5 weeks or so I’ll be housing them in the same coop as the older hens but they’ll only be able to see each other. Not contact each other. (separated by hardware cloth) THEN once things seem to be going smoothly after a few more weeks or so I’ll try the introductions. I am hoping for 2 things. That my gals lay dark eggs and they all get along! ~ karen

      • Shauna says:

        sounds like a good plan.

      • Toni says:

        As stated above, hens can be brutal for no apparent reason. I would not assume everything will work out. Right now I have one old hen who used to be part of a flock of 24. Suddenly the other 23 decided they didn’t like her any more and started beating her up. It escalated to the point where she was afraid to go into the pen at night and then one night I found her in the shrubbery by the house, all bloody. I have tried to reintroduce her to the flock but it hasn’t worked. She is out. To save her life she is penned next to their pen with a friend who has gone broody.

        • Toni says:

          Hah! Just wanted to say that the OP Toni and this above Toni are not the same person! What are the odds?!

          OP Toni :)

        • Toni in Iowa says:

          I realized that after I saw mine post! I didn’t think about what name would show when I did it. I might not have even paid attention to the name of the original author when I made my post. I rarely reply but will try to remember to identify myself better.

  48. dana says:

    OMG! So cool. I had a bus driver in school that had chickens that laid blue eggs. The Ara-whatever chickens. The pics really do look like chocolate eggs. Now I can’t wait to see the 20 pics.

  49. Deb says:

    “The Little Black Hen”

    Said the little red rooster, “Gosh, all hemlock, things are tough!
    Seems that worms are getting scarcer and I cannot find enough.
    What’s become of all those fat ones is a mystery to me.
    There were thousands through that rainy spell, but now where can they be?”

    The old black hen heard him, didn’t grumble or complain.
    She had gone through lots of dry spells; she had lived through flood and rain.
    So she flew up on the grindstone, and she gave her claws a whet,
    As she said, “I’ve never seen the time when there were no worms to get.”

    She picked a new and undug spot; the earth was hard and firm.
    The little rooster jeered, “New ground. That’s no place for a worm!”
    The old black hen just spread her feet; she dug both fast and free.
    “I must go to the worms,” she said, “the worms won’t come to me.”

    The rooster wanly spent his day, through habit, by the ways
    Where fat worms had passed in squads, back in the rainy days.
    When nightfall found him supperless, he growled in accents rough,
    “I’m hungry as a fowl can be — conditions sure are tough.”

    He turned then to the old black hen and said, “It’s worse with you,
    For you’re not only hungry, but you must be tired, too.
    I rested while I watched for worms so I feel fairly perk,
    But how are you? Without worms, too? And after all that work!”

    The old black hen hopped to her perch and drooped her eyes to sleep
    And murmured, in a drowsy tone, “Young man, hear me and weep.
    I’m full of worms and happy, for I’ve dined both long and well
    The worms are there, as always, but I had to dig like hell.”

    Author: Anonymous

  50. Ella says:

    Awesome and amazing. This post is also brilliantly written! I want some!

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