I finally did it! I now have two sweet Silkie chicks that I picked up on Saturday. The breeder, who lives west of town by a couple of hours, graciously met me halfway and we surreptitiously swapped money and chicks while dodging raindrops in the middle of a dance hall parking lot. I’ve been dancing ever since.
I’d been exploring the possibility of getting a couple of Silkies for the last year or two but it wasn’t until the untimely death of Coco that I decided to go ahead with it. I know, I keep replacing 1 chicken with 2 chickens, but it’s very hard to introduce 1 chicken by itself and Silkies are bantams, meaning they’re half the size of standard chickens, so these two really quality as just 1 “regular” chicken. Or so I rationalize.
Being the pampered pets that they will be, the selection of their names took me awhile. Four days in fact. I wanted to honor their Chinese heritage with their names, but the rest of my family looked at me as if I was crazy after each of my name proposals. So, after days of discussion, we’ve settled on names we’re all happy with: Jasmine and Isabelle.
They seem to like their names (we’ll call them Jazzy and Izzy for short), can’t bear to be separated from each other and tolerate the cats (and vice versa so far). They have a soft trill that sounds similar to Chickadees and they regularly sing throughout the day. I’m keeping them inside (caged) for a short while until they get used to me, before I introduce them to the outside and to the big girls. More fun ahead, so stay tuned.
Silkies are an ancient breed of chicken, originating in China, and first brought to the attention of the Western world by Marco Polo in the late 1200′s. “In that place there is an extraordinary phenomenon which is worth recounting. Would you believe, they have hens with no feathers but fur just like cats. They are black, with eggs like ours, and they are excellent to eat.”
Their feathers feel like fur because the feather barbs do not lock together resulting in their fluffy look and inability to fly. They are bred in this country to be small, have feathered feet with 5 toes instead of the more normal 4, turquoise earlobes, and their skin and bones are black. They are docile, friendly and lay small lightly tinted eggs. In China, Silkie chickens are prized for their meat and considered extremely healthful to eat. In fact, my first exposure to a Silkie chicken was in a Hong Kong market where the live chickens were caged in a butcher shop waiting to be selected by the customer.
My chickens will lead a far better life, running in the sun and being free. In fact, it’s warm and sunny out today, so I may try to start their introduction to the world of the backyard this afternoon.