CHICKENS AND GUINEAS
We have raised chickens for many years, relying on them for egg and meat production. Many of our guests enjoy watching them as they stroll about their pen in search of insects. We originally purchased a few different breeds, but over the years they have interbred and now we have a colorful flock. The chickens we raise are referred to as 'heavy breeds'. These are colorful breeds such as Barred Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, and Partridge Rocks. Our flock's blood lines are primarily Black Australorp, Silver Laced Wyandotte, Buff Orpington, Blue Cochin, and Golden Laced Wyandotte. We hatch our own eggs in the spring in order to replenish our flock. We generally select the most colorful, fastest growing rooster from the young birds as our future breeding stock. As a result, we end up with some very colorful chickens. We keep our chickens in a shed with access to an outdoor fenced pen. Being fenced protects them from roving coyotes, and keeps them out of our gardens. While chickens can work wonders in an orchard by eating insects, they are damaging to gardens due to their penchant for scratching mulch in search of bugs and for eating garden plants.
Heavy breed chickens grow more slowly than the Cornish fryers normally found in the supermarket, and their eggs are brown rather than white like the eggs of the Leghorn breed used for commercial egg production.
Occasionally we keep a duck or two and in the past have raised geese. We also raise guinea hens (seen below). This breed of poultry, originally from Africa, is very independent and you will normally find them wandering the premises in search of bugs and seeds. They are curious by nature and curious to look at, even if a bit noisy. We enjoy them for their entertainment value, not to mention their tasty eggs.
Most years we raise mangels (a very large livestock beet) to feed our chickens during the winter. Below are a couple of the larger specimens harvested in November 2003.