May 30, 2008

The Peacocks – Part 1

A Black Shoulder Peacock

The peacocks fascinate most visitors to the farm. Surprising how many people ooh and aah over them, always ask about them and want them. We enjoy watching the peafowl, consider them more of a pleasure than anything. Like our other birds, they free range, are not tame and are very leery of humans.
Our raising peafowl was one of those accidental things, we just happened upon it. Here’s how the story begins…

In 2000 a family friend fell ill, an older gentleman who raised poultry and horses. His health was such that he could no longer care for them. He asks if we would take his birds. All he asked is that we pick them up. Which was not a problem.
One weekend we gathered up Jim’s nephews, met up with my Dad and went to pick up the chickens. Thinking that the chickens were caged we assumed it would be quick work, just loading cages on the truck. The one thing I have learned over the years…never assume.
The chickens were not caged; they were loose in a barn. They were wilder than March hares and there were more chickens than we had ever imagined. Jim and I went into the barn closed both doors and proceeded to catch chickens. Then in turn handed them out to the boys who were putting them in cages. We had successfully gathered up a handful, realizing that attempting to catch one at a time would take the entire weekend or kill us. The next step was a blanket thrown over groups of birds (covering them gives them a false sense of security, the idea it is night, they sit still). A couple of hours later, we emerge from the barn, covered in chicken dropping, worn down, gasping for breath, but managed to have the last of the wild birds caught.
These birds were not your normal chickens. These birds were Bantam game birds. His son showed these birds in his youth so they were of excellent stock. I do believe the little details (being Banty’s, loose in a barn, 60-80 birds) were left out so we would not turn the birds down. We really didn’t need or want Banty’s.
While loading the last cage, we were informed we had to take the Peacocks also. 3 more wild birds. What the heck. I didn’t have the desire or strength at that point to argue. So home with us came 3 Indigo Blue peafowl, Sparky, Sweet Pea and Olive, 2 cocks and one hen.
Sparky had been incubated as an egg, hand raised and our friends pet. He was the tamest of the birds and as a treat was fed a piece of bread daily. Sweet Pea flew onto their farm one night during a severe storm and never left again. As for Olive, I am not sure of her story.

As far as the Bantam’s go, they were not much use to us. Their eggs are small, sure they would do in a pinch, but would take 3 of their eggs to equal one normal size egg. There seemed to be more roosters than hens also.
We were not keen on the idea of mixing our layers with Banty’s so we decided to keep the small birds separate from the main flock. We confined them for a couple of weeks gave a few to friends and neighbors, then released the remaining birds on the farm to free range.

You can barely see their heads, a Indigo Blue mating pair on top of a roost.

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