Bantam Buff Cochin

When we got those first chicks, we both knew we didn’t want bantams.  They’re cute and fuzzy, but really – what are they good for?  Too small to eat and it would take a week to get enough eggs to bake a cake, so other than yard ornaments, I thought they were useless. Since I wasn’t interested in just adding chickens because they look good (famous last words, btw), I wanted real chickens.

Bantam buff Cochin chick

Fast forward a year and half.  Barry and I are having our morning coffee and deciding what to do for the day when there’s a knock at the back door. Since we moved out into the country, we don’t get many visitors and couldn’t imagine who would be there. We open the door to a nice young man who says he’s from next door and he had noticed we had chickens. Hard not to notice with all the cackling and crowing going on back there, I thought. His grandmother has chickens and ducks and turkeys, but is unable to take care of them anymore…would we be interested in them? Barry and I looked at each other and we both nodded, “Sure, let’s go see what you’ve got.”

We pull on our shoes and jackets and follow him across the empty lot next to us to his grandma’s house. The first pen has three little chickens in it. Cute little butterball colored bundles of feathers and attitude. “Cochins,” I said. “Bantam cochins. I don’t really want any bantams.” We walk over to the next pen and there’s just a mixture of everything in there: Barred Rocks, game hens, EEs, and a trio of Light Brahmas. “Yes, I’ll take these.” I said and Michael (the nice young man’s name) said, “Wait, there’s more.” Behind the garage there is an old rabbit hutch with an EE hen and three little biddies – about a week old. “She got out and hatched out these chicks. There were more, but something got them before we could catch them.” Michael explained. “A broody hen!” I thought. Finally, after a year and half in chickens, I will have a hen that will go broody. “Wait,” says Michael, who is beginning to sound like one of those ads on TV, “Wait, buy now and we’ll send you two….”. “You’ve got to see the turkey and the duck.” So we walk over to the turkey and the duck pen and, sure enough, there’s a turkey and a duck. We do a little dickering back and forth and settle on a price for the whole kit and kaboodle – bantams and all – and agree to start moving them over in the next week.

“Cowboy” and one of his hens looking bedraggled after their baths.

We had just finished moving our chicken coops and chickens over from the RV park where we had been living in our 40′ coach for 2.5 years, so we had no extra pens to start putting the new arrivals in. Having previously experienced the drama that ensues when you introduce new chickens to an established flock, I didn’t want to go through that again, so new pens would have to be built. Besides, I didn’t know how healthy these new chickens were and I didn’t want to risk getting my chickens infected. So Barry goes off to start planning the new coops and pens and I start figuring out who is going to go where. I’m already thinking those bantams won’t be staying. Uh huh. The bantams were the first to be brought over. The three, a little rooster with big chicken attitude and two little hens, went into a dog crate in my kitchen. The very first order of business was to give these guys a bath – those feathered feet looked like little mud balls!

It was during those baths that I noticed that all three little cochins had varying degrees of scaly leg mites – a horrible little creature that infects the legs of chickens. I started reading up on how to get rid of them and, for the next month, those three little bantams stayed in my kitchen getting regular baths, epsom salt soaks, and getting their legs slathered in thick layers of petroleum jelly to smother the nasty little creatures out. Unfortunately, while I was able to eradicate the bugs, the problem had gone on too long and the littlest of the three cochins, Lil Girl, lost the tip of one of her toes. The swelling from the mites had cut off the circulation to the toe and by the time I was able to soak all the dead skin away, it was too late to save it. Of course, during the process of taking care of these little guys, I fell in love with them. Cowboy, Lil Girl, and Sis now have a forever home here at Sand Castles Farm. Besides, their chicks are just the cutest things this side of Heaven!

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