No, it's not a done deal (Greg and the municipal board have yet to sign off), but that doesn't keep me from obsessing. I've found the fantastically helpful site mypetchicken.com, which provides pretty much every ounce of education a hopeful chicken owner could ask for. The sucker of most of my time is the Breed Selection Tool, which I've tried with just about every iteration of possible requirements and preferences to determine just which chickens are right for us. My main criteria: egg production, winter hardiness, and docility. Nine breeds seem suited to our needs, and some click on a visceral level in ways others don't.
Yes, I'm talking about visceral connections with poultry.
So here are the ones that are clucking and pecking their way through my dreams (all images and descriptions from mypetchicken.com). Read up, obsess a little, and cast your vote.
"Australorps are the Australian take on the Orpington breed. They are calm and friendly, and excellent layers of light brown eggs. The Australorp's exceptionally soft, shiny black plumage has hints of green and purple in the sunlight. Peaceful and dignified, Australorps are an absolutely delightful bird which we highly recommend to anyone who wants a pet chicken that lays dependably."
"Easter Eggers are not a breed per se, but a variety of chicken that does not conform to any breed standard but lays large to extra large eggs that vary in shade from blue to green to olive to aqua and sometimes even pinkish. Easter Eggers vary widely in color and conformation, and are exceptionally friendly and hardy. Since they are usually quite friendly to children and humans in general, they are a great choice for a family flock. Most hatcheries mistakenly label their Easter Eggers as Ameraucanas or Araucanas (or various misspellings thereof). True Ameraucanas and Araucanas are currently only available through breeders. Eater Eggers do not qualify to be shown, since they do not conform to a breed standard."
"Faverolles are one of our favorite chicken breeds. They're wonderfully odd-looking, with muffs, a beard, feathered feet and five toes. Salmon Faverolles are the most commonly available variety. Hens are beautiful, with snowy breasts and fluffy white faces: their backs are a lovely honeyed salmon color with white lacing. Roosters are huge and magnificent, parading around with a virtual rainbow of colors: iridescent black where the hens are white, burnished with bronze on their backs and wings, while their hackles and saddles the color of pale straw. Faverolles roosters are particularly calm and dignified, and make great roosters for the home flock since they are not as aggressive as some others. The hens lay medium-sized light brown or creamy eggs in prolific numbers, and they are good winter layers, too. They are shy and sweet-natured, but so docile that they tend to find themselves at the bottom of the pecking order in a mixed flock."
"Rhode Island Reds are held in such high esteem that they're the official Rhode Island state bird. They were once hugely popular in America, though they declined right along with the small farmer. Today they're making a comeback due to small flock owners (like us!). They're the do-everything bird: they lay exceptionally well, they're valued for their meat, they're extremely cold hardy, and hardy in general. In fact, if you're not certain what type of bird to raise in your climate, chances are, the Rhode Island Reds will do well. Sadly, White Rhode Islands don't enjoy nearly the same popularity despite all their redeeming characteristics."
"Stars are 'sex link' chickens, meaning they're bred specifically so that males and females are different colors when they hatch. Females are egg-laying machines that continue to lay well in the heat and cold, when many others slow down. The males are said to be good "fryers". Stars are not recognized by the American Poultry Association and are just one of many hybrid sex-link crosses available on the market today."
"The Sussex have everything: they are great layers of tinted or light brown eggs--and they lay right through the coldest weather. They are dual purpose birds, though: fat-bodied and not prone to flying when mature, so they are easily fenced. In England, they used to be THE standard table bird, before the modern Cornish Crosses came along. They forage well and are economical eaters that are friendly and easily handled. Their curious nature means they will often follow you around the yard if they think they can beg a treat from you. The 'speckled' variety has plumage that gives them some camouflage from predators, too. Many tend to get more speckles after each successive molt, so they just get prettier with age. Seriously, what more could you ask for in a chicken?"
"Wyandottes are a favorite amongst backyard flock owners for their dependable egg laying, easygoing nature, hardiness, and the great variety of beautiful feather patterns available. Silver Penciled, Golden Laced, Blue, Columbian and White Wyandottes are all rather rare."