It’s been a long time since we’ve had chicks in the house. After a season or two of keeping them inside, then waiting months for them to start producing eggs, we went the route of acquiring grown chickens, either from friends or buying them at the fair. A few times it worked okay, and we were delighted with birds that were already laying. But through this process, I also learned that nearly every grown bird you find is “about a year old” and “just started laying.” Let’s just say there’s a fair amount of horse trading techniques when it comes to hens.
Since our 5 birds are down to laying 1 egg every day or so (as in, when the mood suits them) it’s time to refresh the flock with some youngsters. Yesterday the boys and I went to North 40 since Thursdays is one of the days when the chicks arrive. Chicks are certainly a hot commodity. I wanted to be there by 8:30, but we didn’t make it until 10 and a fair number of the chicks were already sold.
They could’ve waited until next week to pick the breeds the hoped for, but who can walk away empty handed from chicks? Samuel wanted leghorns, which I don’t think arrived on that particular day, so instead he brought home a Buff Orpington and Bantam of some sort. That’s our mystery bird. John picked the last little Spectacled Sussex left in the pen because she looked lonely, and also opted for a Barred Rock. It’s quite the mix.
In previous years we kept the chicks in a metal trough. It worked great. But, of course, Grant sold it at one of our garage sales along with the heat lamp. I bought an enclosure that folds thinking it will be easier to store so it won’t be as likely to end up with a sale sign on it. We set that up in the boys’ little swimming pool in the laundry area. I can’t say that I like the enclosure very well. So far it’s doing the job, but it’s pretty flimsy. I clamped the heat lamp on it, since the stand that came with it does not come close to supporting the lamp, and still had to wrap it around a chair to hold it stable. The set up should work okay for the amount of time that we need it.
The wild card factor this go around is Luna. Being a bird dog and all, having 4 peeping little fuzzballs at nose level is almost unbearable. She stood over the enclosure literally shaking. Thankfully, I didn’t see drool or I would’ve been really worried. The times she has perched over the chicks has been uneventful. She just intently watches, but to be extra safe, we’re restricting her to the end of the hallway so temptation is out of reach.
Having chicks around is fun… so far. In the meantime, I’m fencing off my front garden so I can move the bulk of the adult chickens in there to till up the area and take out the prickly lettuce and other weeds that have pretty much taken over. When I interviewed Justin Rhodes from Abundant Permaculture last year he said even if his chickens didn’t lay eggs he would have them for garden work. I’m putting that concept to work this year. Right now I’m optimistic that the garden will be taken care of by the old contingent, and by the fall we’ll be flush in eggs from the new girls.