There are many differences between hens and roosters, beyond the obvious.  Yes, hens lay eggs and roosters help the eggs turn into fluffly lil baby chicks.  However, keeping chickens, especially free range chickens, has led me to notice a lot of differences in my chickens.

We decided to raise backyard poultry, I should say I wanted to raise backyard poultry, mainly due to the influence of The Chicken Whisperer, whom I met through Twitter, and Mother Earth News, whose magazine I subscribe.  I knew I wanted laying chickens from the beginning, I bake and the family loves to eat eggs, however, I soon discovered chicken raising wasn’t as easy as I had thought it would be – I can be blind zealous a bit overly optimistic at times.

For one, there are SO MANY different types of chickens and hatcheries to choose from, it can be overwhelming.  Luckily, The Chicken Whisperer has a wonderful radio show and highlights different hatcheries.  Finding live chickens for sale wasn’t nearly as difficult as choosing which breeds, though.  Different breeds are different uses.  There are meat chickens, egg laying chickens, chickens which specifically lay brown eggs, chickens which are rare, heirloom chickens, etc.  Plus, in addition to different breeds of chickens, you get to choose a straight run (male or female), females only and males only.

We started out with three juvenile chickens from McMurray Hatchery.  These were easy to choose, as there were only three types available – I ordered one of each, and ordered the females because we wanted EGGS. We built a pen for them to be shut up safely at night and got a big igloo doghouse to serve as a chicken coop.

Then the trouble with Melinda started (hey, I can be fluffy like a Tribble and I multiply lol).  I decided a gaggle of chickens would be a really, really neat thing.  So, I went back to McMurray Hatchery and ordered day old baby chicks.  I considered ordering hatching eggs instead, but didn’t want to buy all the extra egg care equipment.  I ordered female brown egg layers.

Now, with baby chickens you HAVE to order in bulk – they need body heat to stay warm and alive.  So I now had 25 baby chicks in my shopping cart.  Then the real danger happened.  I started looking at the different breeds of chickens.  Yes, folks, the ADD woman browsed!  Yes, my poor husband sighed and rolled his eyes at me when I told him later what happened.

Ok, some background here, so pay attention.  When Rogan was in college he spent two years in Japan.  This delighted me to no end when I found out, because I LOVE Japan.  I love the history and the architecture and just about everything else.  So, when I came across JAPANESE CHICKENS…well, let’s just say I ordered three extra hens.

So, our total count is now up to 28, yes, twenty eight little baby chickens.  But wait!!  There’s more!

We also received a freebie, a rare breed called Turken.  We named her Turkey, because..well, you’ll understand when you see the picture in the link.

So now we are up to 29 baby chickens – in addition to the two juveniles (one of the didn’t make it, she died within a day or two of receiving – we think the shipping was too much for her system to handle).  So we have 31 laying hens now.

But wait…yeah, you know the drill.  In my perusing, I came across something I just could not resist!  A white crested black polish.  OMG!  The rooster was gorgeous looking.  Those plumbs of tail feathers…magnificent.  The hen, though.  She just didn’t do anything for me.  So I clicked on the button to order a male.  Yes, the difference between a hen and a rooster can be pretty dramatic.  (And I’m a sucker for a good looking tail lol)

Yes, folks, this is how we ended up with 32 chickens.  THIRTY TWO!!!  (Word of advice: never order baby chickens while drinking beer.)

We lost about seven before they were mature enough to out into the coop.  We put them in back of the pickup while we cleaned out their boxes and we can only assume hawks got them when our backs were turned because our chick count would be one or two less than when we started when we put them back into their cleaned boxes occasionally.  That still left us with about 25 birds who became mature and were put in the pen with Uhura and Ginger, our now adult hens.  we had three of those who didn’t make the pecking order, so we now had twenty one hens and a rooster.

My mother in law was so excited about our chickens she took three of them home when they were old enough to leave the brooder.  This brought us down to 18 hens and a rooster.

Then, the Chicken Apocalypse of 2010 occurred.  One of the neighbor’s dogs came into our yard and killed off a lot of our chickens.  We are now down to nine chickens, eight hens and the rooster.

The rooster.  Oh, the rooster.  Can someone please silence the rooster?  He sits outside my office window and I swear he waits to hear me on the phone or on skype so he can do his thing.  Oh, and guess what?  Roosters don’t just sing in the morning…they sing ALL BLOODY DAY.  I’m sure the neighbors love us.

Oh, and my mother in law, the one who took three of our hens?  Yeah, she took a bunch of eggs a few months ago when one of her hens went broody and let her sit on them.  Three hatched (none of our eggs hatched before our hens stopped brooding).  You know what the problem is of hatching your own chicken’s eggs?  You can’t sex them.  Turns out, her chicken Ruby is actually a Rudy.  Yup, a rooster.  She lives in the city limits and cannot have a rooster.  The neighbors will report her.  So it’s either her neighbor’s stew pot…or us.

Yes, folks.  That brings us up to eight hens and soon to be TWO roosters.  Guess I’d better start giving some eggs to the neighbors to appease them.