Of course, around here they always die of natural causes....
Once a hen's laying days are over on the Fraker Farm, they get put "out to pasture" so to speak. In other words, I turn them out every morning and let them spend their days roaming and foraging to their hearts content, and I figure if they become a meal for a predator at least they died happy, since most chickens think it's heaven to get to free-range at all, let alone all day long.
I usually don't keep more than 4 or 5 laying hens at a time anymore simply because I stopped selling (and giving away) eggs and the feed is too expensive to justify keeping more hens than we need to in order to have enough eggs for two people.
I bought four Red Star chicks a few years ago, after having only Rhode Island Reds as my primary layers for many years. I fell in love with these calm, beautiful girls right away. Even as chicks they were so sweet and curious... I could stick my hand down in their box and instead of freaking out like most breeds do, they would come to my hand and peck at my wedding band along with any mole or freckle they thought might need inspecting.
The Four Hens of the Apocalypse (as they came to be known after what they would do to the mulch in my flower beds) lived the good life... they were almost five and their egg-laying parts had slowed down considerably so they started spending their days outside the coop. Unfortunately, one fell victim to a predator, and I lost two more to some mystery chicken illness soon after. I only have the one remaining hen, and she prefers to spend her days hanging out in the sheep barn, but occasionally she comes to the back door and waits for a treat.
Ah, the golden years. :)
I knew this would probably be the year I would need to get some new egg-layers, and I'd already made up my mind to get more Red Stars. Besides, the feed store where I always bought chicks never has a big selection of large breeds to choose from.
Wouldn't you know, this was the year they decided to carry some of my "dream" chickens... Buff Orpingtons. I've always wanted some of these big beautiful birds... sometimes just saying the regal name "Orpington" would make me smile and sigh over the dream of one day having a few for my very own.
I know this sounds hard to believe coming from me, but, well... I went a little overboard at the feed store.
I came out of there with six Red Stars and three Buff Orpingtons, which I held in my lap on the way home and all the while Hubby had that look on his face... you know the one~ the "guess I'll be building a bigger coop" kinda look. Poor thing.
Men just can't say no to a woman who loves chickens.
I'm happy to report that not only are these Red Stars as sweet as the last batch,
but the Buffs are just as sweet if not more.
They're going through that awkward "teenage" stage right now, where they're all legs and feet.
Love their hearts.
Their favorite thing in the whole world is just to perch and watch the world go by.
And my favorite thing in the whole world (other than baby chicks) is waiting for the day those fresh brown eggs start rolling off the assembly line. *squeee*