We are a small, part time farm offering fresh eggs (brown and “Easter” eggs) and local honey. The chickens are in a sheltered run (about 1000 square feet) and are let out each day for some free-range time as well. The bees are set up in our yard and have access to both neighborhood flowers, trees, and bushes, as well as large amounts of native grass and cattle pasture to forage.
We began producing eggs last year (May 2015) with a purchase of 16 “pullets” from Ideal Poultry in Cameron, TX. They guarantee a 90% accuracy on sexing of the day-old chicks, and we wound up with 15 hens and one rooster (Delbert the Delaware) once they matured. As you can see, Delbert takes his job of guarding the girls very seriously. We started with two each of 7 breeds: Americauna (so called “Easter-eggers”), Black Australorp, Buff Orpington, Delaware, Dominique, Partridge Plymouth Rock, and Rhode Island Red.
One of the Americaunas didn’t make it past a couple days, so we arranged a replacement and picked up a couple extras to keep her company. We called them the “Littles” and waited quite awhile before introducing them to the “grown ups” since they were 3 weeks younger.
We had hoped that one of the hens would go “broody” this Spring, but it seemed it wouldn’t happen, so in February 2016, we picked up 2 more Americauna’s, 2 more Buff Orpington’s, as well as 2 Silver Kraienkoppe’s and 2 Black Breasted Red Kraienkoppe’s. Supposedly the Kraienkoppe’s have strong tendency to go broody.
We didn’t get any wildflower honey from the bee hives last year since they were still building up during the early summer when we had flowers. We did get some honey in August that we harvested in September 2015, and we’re not sure what the source was since flowers were all gone by then. Clint Walker (from Walker Honey Farm in Rogers) tasted some a month or two later and identified as “pecan honeydew.” Apparently bees collect the clear, sticky excrement of green aphids that feed on the pecan trees and turn that into honey when flower nectar is not available. I have to admit, it is among the best tasting honeys that I’ve tried! We’re sold out right now, but have some Walker’s honey for sale and hope to have our own wildflower honey harvested this summer.
Of course, after getting the Peeps in February, Olive (one of the Buff Orpingtons) decided to go broody about a week and a half ago. Here is Olive laying on her brood of 16 eggs, which are a mix of brown and green eggs, so we should have an interesting mix of Delaware and Americauna as well as the other breeds. Update in a few weeks once they hatch!