Meet the Chicks!
April 2, 2013
Matt and I have been talking about backyard chickens for awhile now, but we've been on the fence about whether we should dive right in and get them this year, or waiting until next spring when we're a little more prepared. When it comes right down to it, though, we can't wait a whole year longer for fresh eggs! So, even though it feels like we're scrambling to catch up, we decided to go ahead and get them now, and we're super excited.
So, after doing loads of research, we went to the feed store yesterday to choose our chicks and pick up some supplies. Where we live, you can only have up to four backyard chickens, but we decided to start out with three, and maybe add another to the flock in a year or two. By the way, if you're totally new to chickens like we are, I highly recommend Chick Days: An Absolute Beginner's Guide to Raising Chickens from Hatching to Laying by Jenna Woginrich. This book is perfect if you know next to nothing about what to expect or how to prepare for raising chickens, and the transition from brooder to coop.
So, without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to the newest members of our family:
This is Amelia Pond. She's an Ameraucana, which means she'll likely lay blue or green eggs once she's of age. She's very mild mannered, independent, and I happen to think she's the prettiest chick of the bunch.
This is Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix 01, or 'Seven' as we like to call her. She's an Australorp, so she'll lay brown eggs. As for her temperment, she seems the shyest of the bunch, and she sleeps the most, which might also mean she's the youngest by a day or two.
And last but not least, Starbuck-buck-buck. She's a Buff Orpington, so she'll eventually lay big, light-brown eggs. She's the liveliest of the group, and she's also the largest. She likes to be held, and tests her wings more than the other two. I've even caught her trying to fly out of the brooder, but luckily she's still too small. I have slight suspicions that if any of these 'girls' turn out to be a 'he,' it would be 'she,' but I hope not. I'm quite fond of 'her.'
Aside from our three chicks, we brought home a water dispenser, a food bowl, medicated feed, chick grit, a heat lamp, some pine shavings, and a screen. All together, we spent around $60 at the feed store for the whole lot.
To make our brooder, we found an old cardboard box, filled it with the shavings, and taped up the flaps to add more height to the walls. We've hooked our heat lamp to one of Matt's old microphone stands so we can easily adjust the height, and then to make sure that it's extra secure, we've used a chain to connect it to a hook on the ceiling in case the stand gets knocked over. We also taped a thermometer probe to the inside of the box so we can keep track of the temperature.
I will say that just as soon as we got home, I hooked up the heat lamp and held it over the girls while Matt set up the brooder box. We were told that keeping them warm was our top priority, and we took that advice seriously. Once the brooder was ready, and we placed them inside and introduced them to the water. Once I was sure they had all taken a good drink, we introduced the food.
I think Matt and I stood huddled around them for a good hour or two, making sure that the temperature was adequate for them, and that they all seemed active and healthy. I forgot to ask at the feed store about how old they are, but from what I gather, they look about one week old. They've all got feathers on their wings, and they're just starting to grow tail feathers. Amelia Pond looks to be the furthest along in terms of feathers, while Starbuck-buck-buck is the biggest of the three.
I know a lot of this information is probably redundant to those of you who own or were raised with chickens, but I love reading about stuff like this. So, for those of you who are thinking about owning chickens, or if you're just starting off like we are, I'll be posting an update on their progress every week until they're in the coop. Also, if you have any advice or interesting experiences you'd like to share about your own chickens, please do!