It seemed like a good
idea at the time!
Just think about... it free eggs. Each chick cost less than two dollars. What a bargin... and they're so cute!
I was right. If I had a brain, I would have kept walking right past those peeps. This is a no brainer.
We are starting our third week as chichen ranchers, and the day that our initial eight dollar invenstment finally begins to pay dividends receeds further into the future as each weekend passes. About a year ago Jean floated the idea that it might be fun to raise a few chickens. Being of sound mind and aging body I immediately nixed the idea. The last thing I wanted was one more project, but that was all the opening Brian needed.
Brian had always looked forward to the arrival of the peeps at Tractor Supply, but soon I realised that this year was different. Since Cristmas he had made a point of checking in at the service desk. "Do you have any chicks yet?" he would ask even though time after time they would explain that the chicks would not be in until spring. Before the peeps ever arrived I knew that this was going to be the year of the chicken. Now the only question was how could I make this as painless as possible. Maybe if we just got a few chicks we could manage this. So I did the math. We use about a dozen eggs per week, and it was not unreasonable to expect a hen to lay somewhere near 160 eggs per year so we only need four hens. So when the chicks finally arrived, I sprang for four birds...and some chicken feed... and a gallon water dispenser. Oh yeah and some pine bedding; chicks love pine bedding.
Day 2: After looking it over, I decided that old wash tub wasn't nearly as big as I remembered. "Not problem," I thought, "I'll just pick up a new one at TSC next time I go there." Right now the bigger problem for me was, "How do you keep these suckers from croaking?" Like many kids born just after WWII, baby chicks were an Easter tradition. I think they were like a reverse resurrection symbol. You know...Jesus was dead for a couple days and then alive. The chicks were alive for two days and then dead. How either one of these things happened always a baffled me. Thanks to backyardchickens.com, I soon had some insight into the later mystery, and like so many aspects of chicken rearing, it would involve a trip to TSC. You see, day old chicks have to be kept at 90° for the first week, 85° for the following, 80° the next and so on until... actually I not sure about the until part. I think it's until you have to start the air conditioned in June but I've got time to learn. I'm getting worried though, I read that chicken don't like it too hot either.
Day 3: We have four chicken, which is not the same as having four hens. I just learned that "straight run" doesn't mean a mixture of breeds. It means "what you see is what you get" and nobody has bothered to look up the baby's butt to find out if it's a rooster. So now the odds are that I have two hens and two roosters, unless you factor in my luck. In that case the likely mix would be 100% cock-a-doodle-do. As you might guess, this information has drastically affected my egg math. As someone who was never enthralled with homework, I have an excellent understanding of how zero's affect the average. On a good day we can expect anywhere from .4 to .8 eggs. I think that 2/5th's of an egg is liable to be a messy affair.
Day 4: We have one white chick, two buff colored chicks and one black chick. I am not certain, about the white one, I think it may be a White Rock. I really don't know for sure about the buff colored chicks. My best guess is that they are Buff Orpingtons. The only thing I know for certain is that if you type "breed, black and chick"into your seach engine it's a good idea to have the parental controls on your browser set at a very high level. You really don't want to delegate this project to anyone under 18.
Day 7: Today I double downed on my initial ante. Well OK it was a little more than that but I am sure it is a good inventment. For my original eight dollar I am abosolutely sure to get at least zero eggs per year. If you have have seen a flipped coin come up tails more than three times in a row, you'll appreciate my dilemna. But today at Tractor Supply I was able to hedge my bet. They had day old pullet for sale at less than $3.00 each. Any hen under a year of age is refered to as a pullet. The males are sometime referd to as cockrels, but around here we just refer to them as a standing dinner. In keeping with standard investment advice I insisted that Brian diversify. Consequently we now have on black, one brown and one yellow chick… I mean pullets… farmers don’t think of chicks as girls.
Week 3: The white spot on this fellow head is a dead give away. She is a Plymouth Rock. (More to come)