Picture day. C3.0 on Day 26.

It seemed as though the rain would never stop and the sun would never shine, but it has and it has. Halleluia! I’ve been looking for a day that wasn’t so very cold to take C3.0 out of the brooder and out from under the heat lamp for updated photos. Spreading and preserving the cute, yes, but also informative; I am impatient to know how many hens I have.

(By the way, it might amuse you to know that, in my head, C3.0 is C3PO.)

The sexing is foregone for many of C3.0 (See? You’re doing it now, too.). I am as certain as I can be without pissing off Mother Nature that I have a minimum of two Blue Copper Marans roos. My beloved Big Blue, the biggest, the fastest, the most precocious, who I had hoped would be a hen, crowed on Day 19, dashing my hopes. That his wattles are now a rather spectacular cherry red is just salt in the wound.

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Ladies and gentlechickens, I give you…Big Blue leRoo. If all continues on its current course, Big Blue leRoo will be my Marans rooster. He hatched first, easiest, healthiest, strongest, and biggest. (Wendy, he might well be #37.) I’d be a fool not to use him as the foundation of my breeding program, modest as it is.

Recall that I am naming the Marans after Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters, and the Ameraucanas after Angel characters…my Marans rooster will be named Spike. As I try not to tempt fate whenever possible, he remains Big Blue leRoo for the foreseeable future. How ’bout them wattles, huh? Here he is, at left, with Blue Roo Two:

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Not hard to see who the alpha is, is it? Big Blue leRoo has already begun to peck at me when I clean the brooder, and, thanks to the invaluable guidance of Justine at Les Farms, I know now to ping him when he does so, and force him to recognise my physical superiority. I am the alpha.

That said, Blue Roo Two will be kept as my backup until the fall, at which time, if all goes according to plan (ha!) he will make a fine Marans rooster in someone else’s flock.

Then there are the blue girls, which is to say, what I hope are the blue girls:

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A dramatic difference in combs and wattles, you’ll agree. Although there is likely a slight age difference, it can’t be more than one day, so I don’t think it’s a factor at this point. I will need a blue rooster and blue hens if I’m ever to breed the elusive splash.

Then there are my two blacks. Both of these chicks required help hatching. Medium Black was born 25 days ago, and Scrappy 24. Medium Black may have needed help getting from the shell, but was completely independent thereafter, and never required my help again. That said, she is significantly smaller than the blues.

Scrappy, as you’ll recall, was very high maintenance. She pipped when I had given up hope of any other hatchings, and needed quite a bit of my help, including an after-hatch bath and and elaborate leg bracing to correct weak toes and an inturned left ankle:

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Here they are today:

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They were the wiggliest of the bunch and this shot is the most in focus of all the shots I took. Scrappy, at left, may be tiny, but she is undaunted. She was the only one of the nine who tried to fly off the 3.5 foot roost on which they were perched. As you can see, she is still behind developmentally, but is now making progress.

I believe both of these blacks to be girls, and await the thoughts of more learned chickeneers.

Which brings us to the Lavender Ameraucana trio. I think I lucked out and got a proper breeding trio, one rooster and two hens. I base this conclusion not on combs and wattles, but on the rate of feathering, as I’m told this is a reliable method of sexing in Ameraucanas. From the outset, two of the LAs feathered in quickly, and one slowly.

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Although the roolet, at center, is blurry in this shot, you can see how his feather development differs from that of the pullets on either side of him. He and the girl to the right were born on the first day, making them 26 days old; the pullet to the left is none other than Light Preemie, who has blossomed.

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Assuming I am right (and that’s always dangerous), I am going ahead and giving them their adult names. The roo will be Angel. The larger, more glamourous hen, at right, will be Cordelia, and the perky, come-up-from-behind hen will be Fred. Yes, Fred. Innit she sweet? In the shot above, you can also get a good look at Cordelia’s beard coming in.

So, there you have it: the kids of C3.0, on Day 26. Coming later this week, the babies of T1.0, and the embryos of C3.1.

And God laughed. Naming my chickens before they’re hatched edition.

One of my greatest challenges in life is that I’m a thinker, an incorrigible thinker, and I have a very difficult time turning it off. This leads to worrying, and, worse yet, planning.

I have been warned against planning all my life. Planning leads to expectation. Expectation leads to disappointment. Planning makes God laugh. I can’t help it. I’ve tried.

Looking ahead to the spring, I have two major poultry projects, one as sure as it can be (heritage turkeys) and one highly speculative (broody hatch of Blue Copper Marans chicks by Abby). And my little hamster brain works on these two things. This is why I don’t sleep.

We won’t be naming the turkeys, for obvious reasons. I have ordered five blue slates (which Porter’s calls “slates”), five lavenders (which Porter’s calls “self blue”), and five White Hollands. I will be choosing a breed with which to go forward (blue slates and lavenders go together, and can be part of the same breeding program), at some point before slaughter time. This year, slaughter is likely to be for Christmas, rather than Thanksgiving, as I’m not getting my poults until late May, and heritage turkeys are slow growing.

The Man and I decided, at the outset, to keep a breeding trio and slaughter the rest. These three birds will be the foundation of our breeding program, and will be named. Until then, I’m thinking it’s likely we’ll be referring to them as “white jenny”, “blue jake”, etc. When adolescence reveals the qualities I’m looking for (size, colour, temperament), I’ll decide which way we’re going to go.

But, what to call the jake and two jennies we keep? (No, I can’t wait. We covered this. Pay attention.)

We’re huge Doctor Who fans here, The Man, myself, and The Stepdaughters, so we’ve decided to name the male “Captain Jack”, and the hens “Rose” and “Martha”. If you are with us in the microscopic overlap in the Venn diagram of poultry enthusiasts and science fiction fans, you may get a kick out of that. I think that’s probably about three of you. Hard cheese. I’m in this to amuse myself. (Sidenote: I don’t like naming animals after food. Your mileage, as always, may vary.)

Now, what if I can’t choose a breed? I’ve wanted blue slates from the very beginning, but the White Hollands are so prettyyyyyy…

I haven’t even mentioned this possibility to The Man. We planned to winter three turkeys and sell the rest; this is the information he has. But…what if I just can’t choose?! It may not surprise you to know that I have a plan.

I may call an audible and keep a male and a hen of the other breed, as well, and name them Rory and Amy. Which, again, will tickle precisely three of you. There are several flaws with this plan, of course. Two males to three hens is an undesirable and possibly untenable ratio, and I’d have to keep them separated by breed during egg laying season. I’ll jump off that bridge when I get to it. That’s how I roll.

You may be wondering why I keep referring to the toms as “males”; that’s because The Man and I are delighted with the UK tradition of calling male turkeys “stags” rather than “toms”. It’s so butch! So…we’ll be calling our male, our “stag”.

Now, unless the turkey gods really don’t want me to have turkeys or the whole thing goes pear-shaped, that particular plan is likely to come to fruition. The other…?

If Abby goes reliably broody, and if I’m able to find Blue Copper Marans hatching eggs, and if they arrive in good condition, and if nothing goes wrong, I might end up with some Blue Copper Marans babies. I will only be keeping pullets. Or will I…?

Long-time readers of this blog know we have had a “no roo” policy; in fact, two wrongly-sexed roos have been rehomed. If I want Olive Eggers, though, I’m going to need a Marans roo.

Will my neighbours tolerate a rooster? Will my family? More pertinently, can I overcome my resistance to eating chick zygote? This all remains to be seen, and I’ll…jump off that bridge when I come to it.

But I have them all named! Not only am I science fiction fan, I’m also a big fan of some fantasy shows, and I thought to name my highly-theoretical Marans brood, in honour and in memory of Buffy, after characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This might be a slightly larger overlapping slice of the Venn diagram, with me being the only occupant of the tiny area where all three niches converge. I’m okay with that.

Depending on how many girls we have, the names could be: Willow, Darla, Druscilla, Faith, Tara, Anya, Dawn…I’m sure I’ve forgotten some, but that’ll be more than enough. Now, what to name the roo? I know Angel is the logical choice, but it’s just not working for me. I might feel differently when I meet said roo. My gut instinct is that the roo should be Spike. I could name him Giles, I suppose, but the thought of Giles doing the humpy-hump with Willow is just…wrong.

So, now that I’ve planned this all out, the universe can feel free to shit all over it. To all of you who read through all of this without getting it, thank you for humouring me. To the three of you who get it, you’re welcome.