And Life Goes On . . .

I received a call from the Iowa poultry breeder on Tuesday evening while I was milking goats. Unfortunately, my order of Icelandic chicks wasn’t able to be filled – his hatch only provided five chicks – so a shipment had been made that day which contained chicks from two different breeds as well as the five Icelandics. I really didn’t want any other breeds, but a minimum number of chicks have to be shipped in order to keep the chicks warm enough. The US Postal Service came through with flying colors again — not necessarily great about delivering letters timely, but live chicks are always delivered quickly — and I got a call on Thursday at 6:06 am from the post office stating my chicks were ready to be picked up. While in past years I would have been out the door in 5 minutes, I’ve learned that the chicks can really handle another 30 minutes in their box so I took the time to have a cup of coffee before heading out. When I got back home and took the new chicks out to the brooder, I opened the box to find . . .

Range Sussex

12 Range Sussex chicks. These are not a true breed but an experimental cross between Sussex and Dorkings first made by this poultry breeder in the mid-1990s to determine if the cross was less susceptible to certain poultry diseases.  These were sent as “filler” chicks.

The remaining ten chicks included five Partridge Barnvelders and five (one dead) Icelandics. The black(ish) chick is an Icelandic and the brown chick behind it is a Barnvelder.

Given how my year has gone to date I guess I not surprised that the one chick that didn’t survive shipping was one of my much anticipated Icelandics.

I’ll have an update on the (lack of) progress after the fire in a few days. I’m too depressed to want to think about it right now.


I have wanted Icelandic chickens for quite some time. A few years ago I had tried the route of having hatching eggs shipped but only ended up with only six chicks hatching and only two survived more than a couple of days. I lost both to predators within a couple of months.

A friend with Icelandics had a hen go broody and hatch four chicks out of a clutch of 8 eggs. I was supposed to pick up the four chicks on the 22nd, but the fire on the 20th prevented me from getting them as planned. I did manage to pick up the chicks a few days ago. Since I’ve never raised such a small number of chicks in the brooder before I was a little concerned whether the heat lamp would be sufficient but the chicks all seem to be doing well.

Icelandics are what I would call a “land race” in dogs — a breed that is focused on breeding to maintain function rather than breeding to create a uniform appearance. All four chicks are different colors and it will be interesting to see the adult plumage for each.

Icelandic Chicks

I had an order for Icelandic chicks from a poultry breeder in Iowa last year but due to circumstances, he was unable to fill the order. Rather than request a refund I asked him to ship chicks this year when he could. I recently got an e-mail from him saying he hoped to ship chicks in mid-June. By then, these four will be able to be moved out of the brooder into the associated section of coop. I’m excited to finally get my Icelandics (now to wait and see how many roosters versus hens I get as the above, as well as the ones which will be shipped, are all “straight run” and not sexed.

Chickens, chickens and more chickens

Icelandic cross??

This past spring the young Icelandic rooster gifted to me tried to protect two hens from a coyote and unfortunately all three chickens lost their lives.

However, one of my hens hatched out four chicks and successfully raised three. (Clutches are a communal effort so the parentage of the chicks is always debatable.) Two turned out to be hens – one is a dirty white so is likely a Delaware cross – and the third was a rooster. I *think* that my Icelandic rooster might have been the sire of this particular chicken.


A few weeks ago, the friend who gave me my original Icelandic rooster gifted me with another Icelandic rooster. This one is older and has gone through a molt. His tail feathers still need to grow back.

New Icelandic Rooster

And finally, towards the end of the summer one of my hens decided she no longer wanted to roost in the coop. Since she could avoid Fix (and me) by going through the cattle panel into either the corral or goat pens, we were never able to move her back to the coop at night. I figured she would have a short life expectancy spending the night outside, alone but she continually surprised me by being present every morning when I went out to feed. Every night after the rest of the chickens were locked up in the coop, I would look for the errant hen and be unable to find her. However, a couple of nights ago I finally found where she had gone to roost.  See if you can find the chicken.

Last night the temperatures dropped to 18 degrees and I was sure the hen couldn’t have survived, but she was hanging out at the animal pens when I went out to feed (though she did follow me back to the chicken coop and ask to be let inside.) We will see if she goes back to the coop tonight with the rest of the chickens. [Note: she did not go to roost in the coop with the other chickens tonight.]