Thursday, August 23, 2012

Rex & His Girls: Our BBS Orpington Flock


Rex is our English type blue orpington rooster.  Rex is a large fluffy bird.  He weighs in at over 12 pounds! But he never throws his weight around.  He is the calmest, sweetest rooster on the farm.  He heads a small flock of three oprington hens: Rita, Abby and Sasha.

Rita is a blue Orpington hen.  She is a large, fluffy hen who is always at the front of the line. She is brave and curious and loves to receive treats.  She is the alpha hen of this flock, and is the one most often found side by side with Rex.

Abby is a splash orpington hen.  She is the adventurous hen in this flock.  Second in the hen pecking order, she is always eager to get out and forage.  Abby can often be found a litte further from the rest of the flock, scratching around at the edge of the woods or beneath a thicket of blackberry brambles.  She also enjoys digging through the insect rich compost pile.

Sasha is our black orpington hen. She is the youngest hen in the flock, and the lowest in the peck order.  She is a quiet, reserved hen who is a little shy but still very sweet.  She enjoys human interaction quite a lot.  She is usually at the back of the line, and last to the food dish.  However, Rex loves her as much as his other girls and often reassures her with his sweet cooing noises and gentle clucks.

These are such wonderful birds! Big, fluffy, gentle chickens.  They are a breeze to care for, and the hens lay 5 to 6 huge brown eggs every week. And Rex is such a devoted rooster.  He loves his girls, and they absolutely adore him, following him everywhere.  Rex finds treats for for his hens every day, calls them to the the feed dish when we fill it, and always lets his girls eat first. He also fluffs up the straw in their nest boxes for them and often sorts the straw piece by piece to make sure it is just right.  And of course he also does his one-wing-down spinning rooster dance for them to win their affections.

Rex is so gentle.  He is even good with very young chicks.  Even when the chicks are from another flock.

We recently hatched the first test batch of eggs from this lovely flock.  Rex and his girls are now the proud parents of six healthy orpington chicks! They hatched out four blue and two splash orpington chicks.  We are very excited to watch these little ones grow up and see how they develop.  Hopefully they will be as big and sweet and fluffy as their parents.


Friday, August 3, 2012

We are currently in escrow for a larger piece of farmland that will eventually be the new location for Dancing Hen Farm!  We are very excited!  We are buying a lovely piece of land here on the Central Oregon Coast. It has pasture dissected by a meandering stream, and woodlands comprised of a lovely mix of both soft and hardwood trees, including some HUGE Oregon big leaf maples.  We plan to initially use the extra land to grow food both for us and the CSA, as well as for our poultry.  We will be planting a large mixed berry patch that will hopefully include blackberries, marionberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and more.  We will be planting a fruit orchard of cherries, apples, plum, and more.  We hope to also plant a small nut orchard that will include hazelnuts.  We will be planting a large herb garden that will include as many different herbs as possible, with a focus on the species that will best perenialize here in our climate.  Mixed into this herb garden will be various flowers and other edibles that are hardy in our climate, such as artichokes, nasturtiums, and more.  Then we will be planting poultry feed as well, to help supplement the feed we buy for them right now.  We will be planting things like oats, wheat, rye grass, field peas, mangela beets, chard, dandelions, and anything else we think the birds will enjoy. 

Eventually we will also be setting up a new homestead on this land and moving ourselves and the animals there full time.  Although this is a long term plan that won't happen for a few years.  We hope to build an eco-friendly farm, using as many natural building techniques as we can.  We will start by building chicken coops using a combination of cordwood masonry and cob building techniques.  We plan to use this blog as a place to document and share this entire journey as we learn and grow and hopefully move closer to our dream of an earth-friendly, mostly self-sufficient farm here on the beautiful Oregon coast.

This is our future driveway.  I just love the mossy driving into an enchanted forest.

Future pasture for the animals.

More pasture land.

Stream running through the property.

This hillside will be cleared and planted as an orchard. And probably the berries will go here as well.

We saw a lovely deer in the woods while inspecting the property.

Here are some more shots of different parts of the stream.

I just love the huge mossy trees.

This sunny field is the location of my future kitchen garden. 

Someday I hope to fence this in, clean it up a bit, and turn it into a goat pasture.

There are some lovely views of the surrounding hills and forests.

There are a lot of beautiful trees on this property.  As we walked through the woods the air was alive with the songs of so many birds.  I think the chickens are going to love living here.

I think I am going to love living here too!