Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Chicks Are Here!

Our new chicks arrived today!  We picked them up at the post office early this afternoon.  I wasn't expecting them until Wednesday or Thursday of this week, but today worked out well because our oldest, C., was home sick. (Probably more like a mental health day, but she complained of tummy issues.  Nothing a delivery of new chicks can't fix!)

But first let's back up a bit and talk about preparations.
This weekend I had my two younger assistants wash out the waterer (above, in two parts) and the chick feeder, which is a metal base that screws onto a quart jar.  I also got out our clip-on lamp with a 100W light bulb (not fluorescent, you want the heat).  We also have on hand a 25 pound bag of food, specifically, medicated chick grower mash (meaning powdery, like corn meal).

Late last week I went to Home Depot and asked the nice greeter there for a BIG box (holding my arms out wide).  He directed me to the moving box department, and I said, "No, bigger, like what a grill comes in."  When he gave me a funny look I had to 'fess up and divulge what I wanted to do with such a big box.  He shrugged when I told him I wanted to start chicks in it.  He's probably heard lots of strange things to do with boxes, this being on the tamer side.  I think it helped my cause that I had my cute youngest assistant with me.  The nice gentleman in receiving hooked me up with a box that is probably 5 feet by two feet and two feet tall with nice flaps.  It is a little narrow, but it will do, especially since it was free!

I taped the bottom up with packing tape and lined the floor of the box with newspapers.  Extra points if you can find a photo of your favorite politician to line the box!  For the first few days we put down a layer of paper towels, because the newspaper can be a little rough for the little chickies' feet.

What you don't hear from these photos is the little "peep-peep-peep" emanating from the box.  It makes you smile.

There are five chicks in this delivery, one is hiding in the back.  The white packs in the front are little heat packs.  Day-old chicks can be shipped in the mail because for the first day or so they live off their yolk sac that they ingest right before they hatch.  These ladies must have hatched out late Sunday and early Monday, checked to make sure they're females (I ordered all females) and popped into the box for overnight delivery.  They just need to be kept warm, and the more the merrier in the box.  Meyer Hatchery, where we got this order, has a minimum order of 3 chicks, and many hatcheries are catering to backyard flocks by facilitating small orders like this.  Murray McMurray Hatchery, where Martha Stewart gets her chicks, has a minimum order of 25.  That's a lot of eggs.  By the way, you don't need a rooster if you want eggs.  If you want chicks, you need a rooster!

All loaded into their new home!  When I first put them in, I dip their beaks into the water so they know where it is.  We got 5 different varieties this time.  It is so hard to choose!  From the top going clockwise, the light yellow chick is a Buff Orpington, the reddish tan one is a Rhode Island Red, the next darker tan is a Partridge Rock, the black one is a Barred Rock (like our first batch in 2007), and the tan striped one is a Ameraucana.  They all lay brown eggs except the Ameraucana, which lays tinted blue, greenish and brown eggs.  They are all supposed to be hardy for our climate and good layers at about 4-6 eggs per week each when they reach egg-laying age at about 5 months.

They found the food pretty quickly and dove in, sometimes literally!  I put some chicken vitamins in the water for the first few days, which is why it looks like Mountain Dew in these photos.  I had to reintroduce them to the water after they found the food, and they caught on to drinking quickly.  Soon the paper towels showed evidence of a working digestive system, a good sign.  It's all very cute now but it gets a little messy for a cardboard box in a few weeks.

Hey chickie!


kimcpa2000 said...

Great blog Amy! Gonna show it to the kids when they get home!

nimali said...

I showed it to my kids and they think it would be fun to have chickens. They are now asking me if we could get some too. I'm not sure if I'm ready to take that on yet....