By Margaret Langley, Contributing Author
During my search for the perfect baby chicks for our Easter Photo Shoot at our studio this year, I spent a lot of time making phone calls to prospective vendors for baby chicks. The upshot of it all was that nobody had baby chicks, and those who did would likely not have them the weekends that I needed them.
(I remembered how my mother would order chicks through the mail when I was a youngster. She would order a hundred at a time. When the mailman would come through with those baby chicks, he would sit at the mailbox and blow his horn, long and loud. That is all it took for us! We would go running down our long dirt driveway to get that box of chicks.)
Unfortunately, there was no time to order chicks. I certainly didn’t need a hundred of the tiny creatures. Taking a chance, I went to Craig’s List, and within a little while had found several people with chicks for sale.
I called a couple of the people to get details, but finally settled on a nice lady named Beth who lives down near Mt. Olive. She said she had some chicks that would be hatching out about 4 days before my photo shoot was to happen, and for me that sounded wonderful. We made arrangements for me to drive down there and pick them up that next Friday.
I arrived on the pre-arranged day, and got my baby chicks. They were red, not yellow and just as pretty as they could be. We made small talk, and I got a glimpse of her operation. In fact, some babies were just hatching out as I got there. They literally had shells still on their heads! Being in a hurry, I got my chicks and left. But two days later, when I returned the chicks back to Beth, I had a chance to chat, and I learned that Beth was no ordinary chicken breeder.
Since 2000, Beth has been raising chickens with a small brooder room in her home. She started out the old fashioned way with the eggs under a hen. But she soon found out that during the winter months she had more success with an electric incubator. She said, “I love chickens and every time they hatch, it’s like Christmas!” Being a stay-at-home mother, she said, “My kids love it, every time I have some eggs in the incubator, they keep up with the charts and can describe most breeds of chicks by looking at the eggs.”
She then went on to say that she and her children bred “Project Chickens”. I was curious and I asked her what that was. She told me to wait a minute and went into her house and came out with a chick in her hand. She showed the little fellow to me, and for the life of me, I could not decide what kind of bird he was! But he sure was ugly! (In a cute kind of way).
She told me that I was looking at a “Naked Neck Frizzled Easter Egger” chick, and that he was her creation by cross breeding chickens to get the type of chicken that he was. The chickens are called “naked neck” because they have no feathers on their neck. Beth had specifically crossbred chickens until she had a chicken who would lay blue or green eggs. That accounted for the Easter Egger part in his name. Then, she told me they are called “frizzled” because their feathers actually look that way. She said she had started on this project over a year ago.
I was amazed and in looking at her creation also very impressed. Beth told me that she “borrowed” chickens from neighbors to get the strains she wanted bred into the chickens. She said there was a 50-50 chance they would be frizzled, and when they were, she would keep the frizzled hens and sell the roosters.
Beth gave me permission to give the name of her newest breed of chicken, but also mentioned that she has other projects in the works, but they are “top secret”. Perhaps this time next year, we will again be seeing another “new chick in town”.