I've been wanting to get chickens for a long time now. I've had my breed of choice picked out, literally for years. But things just never came together for me to feel ready to get some. Until last week.
1. They're a good dual purpose breed that you can use for both meat and eggs.
2. They are docile, heavy, and not flighty.
3. They are quiet, and when they do make noise their voices are low and pleasant, not shrill and screechy like some breeds.
4. Unlike a lot of modern breeds, they will set their own eggs, so the moms can raise their own chicks for me without the need for an incubator.
this page. And this one.
Unfortunately, many of the fancy colors are extremely rare, and some exist only in Europe. Also, many of them are being bred for show qualities rather than utility. But I discovered that the Blue variety was one of the original Orpington colors (with the buff, black, and white), so that is at least one of the heritage varieties.
my farm's Facebook page. And just one week later, one of my farmer friends who read that comment noticed some blue Orpington chickens advertised for sale---in my area---on Craig's List. She forwarded the ad to me and, since Ken and I just happened to be driving out in that direction anyway last weekend, we stopped by to look at the chickens.
The lady only had a few young adults available for sale, but the ones she had were gorgeous. There were a couple of blues, and a couple colored in a beautiful blue/buff mix, which answered my question of what happens if you cross breed the different colors to each other.
We got the chickens yesterday afternoon: a blue hen, a blue rooster, and two blue/buff hens. They're about 4 months old right now, so they won't start laying eggs for another couple of months. We'll eventually want a larger flock, but we wanted to start small for now.
I've been looking up chicken color genetics online and, while it is a very complex subject that I am far from grasping fully, I THINK that I have determined that our multicolored hens are the genetic pattern called "Blue Patterned Buff Columbian" (the "columbian" being the part that gives them the black heads and black speckles on their necks).
I have no interest in taking my chickens to shows. I just want a healthy, hardy bird that has good qualities for a small homestead-type farm. Over time, as I get more chickens and get my flock established, I'll be breeding and selecting for utility traits like build, hardiness, growth rate, and egg production.
But as a matter of personal enjoyment, I'll also try to encourage a variety of interesting colors!