posts tagged with 'chicks'

outdoor birds

The chicks are growing up. We've been weighing and drawing them every Monday, and today we did it for maybe the last time—it was almost impossible to keep them on the scale. They've got real feathers and tails and everything, and it's about time for them to be living outside. Our brooder is very small, and as rambunctious young things they need to be moving around way more than they're able to when stuck inside it. So yesterday I fixed them up a little mini run, and closed the "chick coop" off from the main coop so that they could have a place to hang out without being bothered by the main hens. I finished that all up at about 4, and brought them out thinking that I'd leave them to make their home there overnight. But as the temperature dipped into the 50s and I heard their concerned cheeping drifting in the windows I felt sorry for them and, as dark fell, bundled them back into the brooder for one more night indoors. Today they were out first thing in the morning, and it's supposed to be a lot warmer, so I'm leaving them no matter how hard they cheep. They'll get used to it, right?

chicks in the world

Chicks grow fast. The boys take turns caring for them, week by week: whosever rotation it is has to refill their feeder at least twice a day. It doesn't help that, despite having all that food delivered up to them in a container designed for the purpose, they just can't resist practicing their natural behavior of scratching violently at the ground with their feet. So they scatter their food everywhere, and fill their feeder with with shavings. For sure, they're growing birds and they need their exercise, and their brooder is very small. So now that they have some proper feathers and we're confident they can regulate their temperature, we're giving them some time outside.

partially fledged chicks among sun-dappled weeds

hard to photograph them, they move so fast

I do feel a little bad for them not having moms to take care of them and show them the ways of the world. If they did, they'd be able to enjoy the outdoors way longer and way earlier. But even without it's amazing to see how naturally they take to the outside world, where all that scratching makes sense! A much bigger variety of things to peck, taste, and fight over! And most importantly, room to stretch their wings! Before too long they'll be living out their permanently. I wonder how the old hens will take to them?


chick season

As I mentioned, one of the thrills of Zion's birthday yesterday was the arrival of our latest batch of chicks. They were highly anticipated, since our friends got theirs a couple weeks ago. And, as always, they've lived up to the hype!

a 3-day-old chick looking at the camera

look how cute!

Back in the winter at ordering time I picked out the four different breeds I wanted for the optimal beauty of our overall flock, but then the boys each chose one of the prospective birds to claim as their own (not quite counting your chickens before they hatch, but definitely in the same neighborhood!). They've got naming rights as well. The only problem is, it's hard to tell a three-day-old Welsummer chick from a three-day-old Silver Penciled Plymouth Rock chick, so it's possible some names may have to be adjusted in a couple weeks. In any case, one of the chicks is Leia, one is Jawa, and one is Ewa (as well as Zion's birthday the day they arrived is "Star Wars Day," which may have influenced the names). I haven't named my one yet.

the four chicks in their brooder

so I don't know which is which

Like they do, the post office sent someone right over with the peeping box as soon as it came in, without even calling us. Luckily we were only walking to the car, not driving away, so we were able to let our friends know we were going to be late and let the chicks out into their (already-prepared) brooder without delay. Then we waited a bit to watch them get accustomed to their new home, and to make sure the dogs weren't going to eat them. They were certainly very interested.

Harvey and the dogs looking at the chicks in the brooder under the red lights

no color correction can compete with a heat lamp

So much so that I put the chicks up in the office before we left, where they can be shut behind a door. So we don't get to watch them all the time. On the plus side the heat lamp makes the office very warm indeed, just what little chickies like. And so far their cheeping hasn't bothered us at all at night. I think we'll keep them!


chicks, man

Between the sadness at losing one of our hens last weekend and the ever-growing longing for animal companionship shared by many members of our household, it was perhaps inevitable that some chicks are now living in our house. We've never had chicks in consecutive years before, but then again, everything these days is different than it's ever been before. I'm very pleased to see the chicks—because they're super cute, because I like eggs, and because the probable alternative was a hairless cat. (If Leah were still writing in the blog here she could defend her love for the hairless cats, but I'm not really a fan.) In other years our chicks made their first public appearance on the blog, but not in 2020; I haven't even taken any pictures of them yet. No, today's world calls for live video, so yesterday morning I set up a chick cam (over Zoom, natch) and sent the link out to everyone we know. That link isn't up now, because we have limited equipment and because it turns out Zoom isn't actually designed to keep a meeting running indefinitely with nothing happening, but if we figure out how to do a more traditional web-cam setup I'll for sure let you know.

Because this was a sudden decision we didn't order the chicks by mail, like we have in the past. Instead Leah went to the feed store to buy them—and because everybody else in the world wants chickens right now that was harder than it would have been in a normal year. She left the house at 6:00 yesterday morning in order to get to the store and line up before it opened at eight; when she got there at 6:30 she was number ten in line. Luckily she only had to wait in line in the snow—yes, it was also snowing yesterday morning—for an hour and a half before she was able to get out of there, because the kids folks at Erikson Grain Mill got going an hour early in order to avoid a possible riot in their parking lot. And she was glad, because she escaped just as the police were arriving to investigate what was backing up traffic on area roads. I kind of want to know how the situation resolved, but I'm happier to have the chicks.

The new members of our flock are a Black Copper Maran, a Barnevelder, and a Lavender Orpington. They're happily established in the office, where they can keep Leah company during her long days in the video-call mines and amuse (or confuse) her remote coworkers with their cheeping. The boys are desperate to play with them, which makes me nervous. Now we're looking into getting a dog.


almost chickens

harvey in front of the chicken box


Our baby chicks hatch today. Down in Norwalk Connecticut four little fuzzballs have already pecked their way out of their shells. Well, along with like a hundred million other ones, but FOUR of them (once they're determined to be females and shot with a little vaccine) are ours. They'll go in the mail asap, and since Boston is a shipping hub and Connecticut is close I expect we'll get a call from our local post office sometime tomorrow.

You see that we're well prepared for the little gals. We've got the brooder set up in the corner of our kitchen, next to a huge bag of pine shavings that I barely dented and a 25 pound bag of feed that should last until they move up to layer rations. Harvey, Zion and I visited the feed store this morning, followed with a lovely visit to a playground just down the road. There's a river that runs next to the playground with a rock beach to boot, so Harvey spent a good time throwing rocks into the water and looking for ducks. I think we'll make it a regular post-feed-store stop. Dan found it for us by searching Acton Playgrounds on Wikepedia. Then he showed me the arial shots of how to get there on google maps. I'm all gung-ho for farming and all, but future is pretty awesome.

Even though chickens are ostensibly "my" project, Dan seems to have been roped into a lot of work here, not limited to internet searches. The top of the chicken box along with the lamp stand were both construction projects that Dan executed this week, along with the fence of course which is now done except for the gates and wire lining. A better husband could not be wished for, especially since he didn't say anything about the incredible amount of infrastructure that just moved into our eating space. I guess he remembers when it was his turn.

Harvey helped me set up the chicken brooder and accoutrements. When he took the chick waterer out of the feed store bag he literally gasped. "Wow," he said cradling it in his hands, "Wow-y-wow!"

And that's kind of how I feel too. Even though four chickens is no big deal in the grand homesteading scheme of things, I can't believe they're really coming tomorrow! Our own peeping little package. Wow-y-wow.