And thus begins a new adventure at the farm
The telephone rang at the It Better Be An Emergency hour of 7 a.m. this morning. The chicks were at the post office! Could I please come to the back door and get them?
So I picked up this tiny box and brought its peepy contents home. When I popped the top I was somewhat amazed to see that they were holed up in only half the box! Yep: this small container, about the size of some stereo equipment, is sized to hold about 50 baby chicks.
It’s 26 we have, though. All hale and hearty, and really not much bigger than the eggs they emerged from only yesterday.
For bedding, I use towels for their first couple of days of life. They won’t eat it (unlike sawdust), it’s not slippery (important for growing legs), and it’s warm.
So out to the potting shed they went. They’ll make their home in a plastic tub for a week or two. The tub is inside the mini-coop, which will be their home for a week after that. By the time they’re nearly a month old, they’ll be out munching grass and bugs in their tractor.
First baby to find the food. Notice chickpile: like all babies, they spend most of their hours sleeping.
Towels are a good plan. We use rubber shelf liner here.
On another note, we also put marbles or pebbles in the waterer for the first week or so to prevent drowning and chilling–for what it’s worth.
They’re wonderful! I have always had an irrational desire to keep chickens. I’ll be following your adventure with interest.
I didn’t spend the last 3 minutes going “awwwww” …honest.
Oh, geeez! Now I want to raise chicks again. Argh!
Must not…have weasels. Must resist! Must avert eyes from cute, fluffly awwweness.
I went to my Egg Lady yesterday and she showed me her new chicks. She said she was finally able to get naked necks. I wondered if that is where ‘chicken neck’ comes from. They are funny looking, all naked necked.
I talked to my Husband about chickens. We live inside city limits and I don’t think we can have them. We decided that we probably could/would get some if times got REALLY bad, but until then, we’d support our local Egg Lady so that she could continue to do what she does best. And we don’t have the mess and trouble of keeping them alive where we are. We have foxes, alligators and cats, lots of cats (neighbors)! So we’re supporting our local homegrown businesses.
Danielle, that’s a wonderful suggestion about the pebbles in the water bowl. Hopefully they’ll make it too heavy to tip over, too! I just went outside to feed them a bit of hardboiled egg yolk and they’re all up and running around: it’s quite amazing how dumb they are when they’re this young.
Beach Bum: Thank you! Yep, the adventures continue…
Athene: There is something so primally lovely about these cute little things.
Tina! Weasels! My girlfriend lost her first batch of chicks to a weasel. It was so distressing to her but she learned a pretty valuable lesson in re: chicken habitat. What was so awful is the thing just killed them ALL and didn’t eat one.
Jules, yes, it is quite great if you have sources for things like eggs and chickens or other rather boring things like wheat or corn. I think it’s great you’re supporting her. Chickens are pretty easy to care for, but, as you’ve seen on these pages, it’s the unforeseen crap like roaming neighbor dogs that lead to heartbreak when you have them. I wonder, often, if I would have ever gotten chickens had I decided to stay in Minneapolis (as we could have them there). I think I might have. They’re just so entertaining.
I so much want to raise chickens (hens for eggs, not necessarily meat chickens – yet) and photos like yours just make me want to curl up in that chickpile! Under the heat lamp!
Yea, new chicks!
I missed the tiny chick stage this time and that makes me a little sad. I loved to watch my first ones just flop over and fall fast asleep. I’m worried that these new chicks won’t have bonded with me as much as the first ones did, since I got them at an older age. I’m probably harassing them too much as I’m constantly picking them up and carrying them around to get them used to it.
yay!!! they are so cool. these are the broilers? i am on the fence/confused about them…after finding out they dont really graze by themselves…like the RIRs etc. I have to keep feeding them and take care of them like a caged bird. Is that true?
eitherway – the chics are amazing! must be a great feeling to have ’em around. I like your towel idea…will use it when I get the easter-eggers later this spring.
Oh my goodness, they are so cute! We are getting chicks this weekend and I’m so excited. We look forward to eggs someday in the future… I didn’t realize you could order chicks in the mail! But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised as I’ve ordered Praying Mantis and other critters that way.
They’re so yellow! I have tears in my eyes. I may never be able to eat one again.
You think chicks are dumb, wait’ll you try turkeys! You have to put sparkly things in their water and food to attract them. It also helps to peck around with your finger where you want them to eat or to put a chick in with them to show them. Silly birds.
Congrats on the new peepers, and the start of a new adventure for you and your family. Can’t wai to read all about it!! 🙂
chicks and strawberries………my favorite things about spring!
i’m such a sucker! i have both incubators full and am awaiting my third order from the hatchery! lol
Andrea: Do it! They’re so fun. FWIW, I never thought I would go down the Meat Bird path, either, but here I am. Knowing where our food comes from and how it was raised is really important to me.
Meredith (HI!), well, we didn’t manhandle our last batch nearly as much as our first and they are a lot more skittish. I think what made them so was one bird: Pauline. She’s a white leghorn and they’re pretty flighty, so if she got spooked it set the others scared too. But they’re all so different, temperamentally. The leghorn is still skittish but she’s the first to greet me. My oldest bird, an Isa Brown, is a dear that will sit in your lap. Our Barred Rock is a sweetheart, but she doesn’t come up to be petted like our RIR and the IB and the Australorps do. The Araucana wants nothing to do with me, but she’s not at all agressive to the other birds. So I think your girls will be fine if you keep picking them up. When do you plan on introducing them to the flock?
Amber, that’s so exciting for you guys! Homemade eggs are the greatest. I have family members who fight over them. But yeah: praying mantises? That internet she’s a wonderful thing.
Katrina; I admit they are quite adorable. My daughter was at school when I picked them up and of course has been obsessed with them ever since. I have reminded her of their ultimate purpose though! It might be tough.
Danielle~ hah! Turkeys come with the next batch. I guess I will be hitting you up for pointers! They’ll probably be in with the other new babies for a little while so hopefully good chicken habits will wear off on them. Although that’s what I said would happen with the guineas, and I play Find The Eggs every day with those ninnies.
Angie! Yep. The fun has begun. I did manage to draw the line though at having the babies in the house, though now I have to make late-night Check The Babies runs out to the cold shed. At least now it’s SOMEWHAT warm outside in Michigan!!!
Jayedee, my hat is off to you. SO MANY little babies! I think it’s simply nuts with 26, knowing how fast they grow out of their Cute phase. Strawberries, though: we have only two more pints left of strawberry jam, until our season starts mid-May! Can it last???
Weekendfarmer: I don’t know why your comment was tagged as spam! Sorry! Anyway, yes, they’re broilers. I have heard both sides about them being food slobs and being self-sufficient. I plan on having them at night in a movable pen within an electrified pastured pen. I am hoping that makes them move around a bit, especially if I continue to move their food around! Go take a look at the comments in On Pastured Poultry and you’ll see that some folks, like Kelli at Sugar Creek Farm, thinks this works pretty well for happy birds. Good luck!
What a lovely post. I just called in my chick order, for egg layers and meat birds. This year I only bought Araucanas for eggs. They are not as pretty as some birds we’ve had but they are the best layers. The blue color is a bonus. We’ve raised chickens for almost 25 years. Mine won’t come til the first of June when it won’t be so hard to brood them. Our chicken house is not air tight and the winds do blow on our hill. Homemade eggs are in a class by themselves, and I like knowing how healthy my meat is. I think they taste better too. Fabulous gravy.
I had a group of “trackor’d” meat chickens and I ended up adding bedding for them because they developed bare spots from laying down all the time. They were in the pen with my Laying hen replacements and even with frequent moves they weren’t very active. All they want to do is eat. They are breed to be that way. I personally don’t like the broilers that you buy just for meat because they have such a high mortality rate from heart/liver failure. and they all come due for processing at the same time. They need special handling with a higher protein diet and extra bedding cause they are pigs and produce more waste then regular chickens. It only makes sense … they eat more and grow faster then regular chickens. OK..sorry about the mono log. But after raising 2 batches myself of these little piglets I changed over to Delawares for my meat birds. They grow slower and dress out nicely from 12-20 weeks.. This is good because you can do 8-19 birds at a time spread over several weeks. I find I can’t do more than that myself in a day. Plus, They don’t die or develop leg problems from growing too fast. They were actually the most commonly commercially grown meat bird before the Hubbard crosses that are now used. Maybe An Idea if you decide your broilers are a lot of trouble. PS do you know about limiting the meat birds feeds? you should Google about that because you can improve there health greatly by limiting there feeds .. when I did raise them I would let them empty there food dishes by 4-5 pm and then refill in the morning. I spoke to a poultry researcher and she said meat farms have taken to not feeding the birds every 3 rd day. I think that is so cruel. but is apparently easier for a big farm to do compared to pulling the feed overnight.
Commonweeder: Thank you! You know, the best chicken I have made yet here at the farm was an old laying hen (NOT one of my girls) that I stewed. The broth color, the taste of the meat…positively heavenly. We have had 4 araucanas. They are so very sweet! They’re not our best layers, but those eggs are gorgeous. Our Isa Brown and our Leghorn, which are egg machines, are the egg champs around here. But I actually have noticed that the Araucanas’ eggs consistently have the most yellow yolks, and in summer they’re nearly orange!
Shelly: Thank you for relaying your experiences. I kind of knew I was getting into something with the broilers. Considering how much I love my egg-layers I really wanted to have the meat birds be a different experience. It’s going to be a push to have me kill them, but I think I am up to the challenge. If they don’t have the respect that I have for my girls, I figured it would work out better for me. I will keep the Delawares in mind: I knew that about them! However, considering how lovely I found that laying hen that I mentioned to Commonweeder, I might just do some cockerel heavies like RIRs, Australorps, etc. But yes, I hope these little cuties won’t completely turn into big disgusting things.
How are these little guys doing?
Katie, stay tuned. Sigh. We’ve lost 3. We’ll probably lose 5.