Monday, November 4, 2013

Mom and Daughter Day

One of two new girls in the flock, a bantam barred rock, name still pending...
On Saturday, L and I woke up early. If you knew me, you would know the magnitude of that statement. L is an early riser. Me? Not so much. Clearly, I must have had a compelling reason to get up early on a Saturday.

We were heading to the Rocky Mountain Feather Fancier’s show in Brighton, about an hour away.

Yes, that’s right: A chicken show.
Can you imagine a better reason to get up early on a Saturday? Me neither!

We jumped in the car and were on our way. L had her Pocket Poultry guide with her, just in case there was an exotic breed that we needed to identify in a jiffy. She chattered all the way down to the show as we braved Denver traffic and found our way to the Adams County Fairgrounds.

We have, sadly, lost a few hens over the past year: Clover, Pearl, and Betty Boop. Bossy Clover and sweet Pearl from old age. Betty Boop, the funny Polish Crested who had yet to lay an egg, was found lifeless on the coop floor several weeks ago. This made me sad. She was a young pullet that had started following me everywhere, and she had been perfectly chipper the day before. Once again, we were reminded that chickens are fragile.

We still have Violet, the Grand Dame of the flock. And Oreo, Thelma, Louise, and Pip. Young pullets Nettie, Hazel and Rosemary have yet to produce an egg. But we were heading to the show to see if we could find a Bantam Cochin pullet for Lydia, and maybe one other hen.

We hadn’t spent one-on-one time together in a long time. We talked chickens and horses and music and books. It was good.

Pulling into the parking lot we wondered if this was the right spot. Our questions were answered when we opened the car doors and heard roosters crowing. We both looked at each other and said, “We’re in the right place.”

The fiercely competitive tension crackled from the fair buildings.

Well, ok, not really. Poultry peeps are fairly relaxed folk.

There were a couple of horse trailers parked in the front of the building. They were filled with cages and stereophonic with quacks. Ducks for sale. Poultry pushers. Oh, so tempting. We glanced longingly at the little Call Ducks, but we both knew what we were there for, and ducks weren’t on the list.

Kids strolled around with hens tucked nonchalantly into the crooks of elbows. Rows of cages housing birds entered in the show filled half the building. I asked where the sale birds were, and we were directed to the north end of the building.

Four people were sliding a floorless pen along the cement floor to relocate it to a different spot. Inside about a dozen adult ducks waddled along, their webbed feet making little slap-slap noises as they walked along, like a bunch of kids in flip flops at the pool. We waited for this little procession to pass by, then got down to the serious business of bird buying.

I liked a nicely colored Ameraucana hen. Housed with her was a pair of very nice cochin bantams—a hen and a rooster. We really can’t have a rooster in town. The owner wasn’t sure she wanted to split them up, which I can understand. She had a box full of young chicks, bantam cochins, but their coloring was iffy for showing, though we thought maybe 4H would be more lenient. Then we saw three little bantam barred rock hens. Hardly exotic, but appealing. Violet is a barred rock, but she’s a full sized hen and her feathering wasn’t as fine and barring wasn’t as crisp as these birds.

We knew we didn’t want to introduce a solo bird to the flock. But just about every cage held a pair (hen and rooster) or trio (rooster and two hens). We hemmed and hawed and decided to go have a coffee at Starbucks and think about our choices.

We chatted and enjoyed the time together, then headed back to the show. Someone had brought in a bunch of speckled Sussex hens, reminding me of Mabel. L didn’t really want another Speckled Sussex—because they reminded her of Mabel. We made a decision. We’d get one of the barred rock bantam hens, and one small chick. We talked to the owners, L made her selections and we put our new flock members in the small crate we’d brought. As we pulled out of the fairgrounds…. The naming game began, punctuated by peeps and clucks all the way home.

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