I know its not actually spring yet but this week we are having beautiful weather and while its too early to actually do much of anything in the yard, we have been enjoying some of the planning. Today I finally decided on my spring chicks order and placed my order. We ordered from McMurray's Hatchery and they (like most mail order chick places) have a minimum order of 25 chicks. This is because you have to have enough to fill a box so that they can keep each other nice and warm during shipping. We probably don't need 25 chickens, though, so a friend of the family has offered to take a few. And we'll probably designate half a dozen as meat birds (particularly the boys) and therefore only temporary residents of the farm. This is the list of birds that I ordered, unless noted they are all female. They will be delivered the last week of March/first of April.
1 Araucana (this is the same breed as Prudence)
1 Red Cap
2 Partidge Rock
1 Silver Laced Wyandotte (I really wanted a gold laced wyandotte but they were sold out)
5 Dark Cornish- mix of male/female for meat
4 Barred Rock- mix of male/female for meat
2 White Laced Red Cornish (not sure on sex)
1 Blue Andalusian
1 White Frizzle Cochin (not sure on sex)
1 Golden Polish Top Hat
1 Buff Laced Polish Top Hat
1 Buff Brahma (not sure on sex)
1 Black Frizzle Cochin (not sure on sex)
1 Red Frizzle Cochin (not sure on sex)
1 Golden Penciled Hamburg
1 "free rare exotic chick" i.e. grab bag
We've also started to make inquiries about the other animals we want on the farm. We spoke with one of the farmers at Cane Creek and verified that we will be able to buy shoats (young pigs) from them. We absolutely love their pork and want to raise heritage breeds like them, probably the Ossabow breed. We are trying to raise heritage breeds whenever possible- both with our livestock and our gardens- in order to promote genetic diversity and raise things that are different from what you can get at the supermarket. Plus, the Ossabow and other heritage pigs are SO much more tasty than you average commercial pork.
I've also gotten in touch with Lynn at Rare Find Farm to inquire about her Shetland sheep. I love the Shetland breed for several reasons. They are much more friendly than most sheep, they are small and easy for one not-super-strong person to wrangle and they tend to be hardy and independent. They are also a heritage breed that hasn't been overly developed or commercialized. A lot of the Shetland fiber I've felt has been a bit scratchy. Not terrible but not really what you would call soft, either. Lynn's sheep are different. They are soft and fine. As soon as I sunk my hands into one of her Shetland fleeces I knew that I didn't just want Shetlands, I wanted Lynn's Shetlands.
We can't actually buy any animals until we a) know where Chris is going to Match (just a few more weeks!) and b) have bought a house and know how much land we'll be working with. Ideally I'd like to get two pigs and maybe 3 Ewes, and then this fall breed the ewes and have lambs in the spring. Of course, its also depends on how much money we have left after we buy a house and get fencing, etc set up. Thankfully chickens are cheap, $3-$4 each for the breeds we ordered. Pigs and sheep are a bit pricier!