WitksChicks - The Clucking ClubWell, we’ve finally decided to take the leap and jump on in the world of Chickens. The decision took 3 years to make. Every January my husband would start saying "We should get some chickens" and he would occasionally repeat this statement until late-February to -mid-March. Then in mid-March, he had convinced himself that we we're too busy and didn't have enough time to devote to chickens. This year however, when he made his annual statement, I immediately started surfing the web for information about raising chickens. Luckly, I came across BYC, and was quickly provided all the information we would need. Every night for about 2 weeks, I would read all the information provided by all the very knowledgeable BYC'ers - Thanks everyone. By March, I was armed with enough information to make my own declaration "We can get chickens". My declaration didn't meet any objections, just a request for explanation on how, what it would take, and my commitment to see this through.
I explained, we can order them through our local feed store, which required we order a minimum of 6, which happened to be the exact number we wanted. Our next task was to determine which breeds we wanted, where to put the brooder, what equipment we would need for day-old chick raising, what type of coop to build, etc. You all know the millions of decisions that needed to be made.
We decided we our 6 chicks would be: 2 Rhode Island Reds, 2 Silver Laced Wyandottes, and 2 Buff Orphingtons. In mid-March I called the feed store and placed our order for the April 17th shipment. Now knowing when they were to arrive, we were faced with the task of getting our brooder equipment, decide where to set it up and get it ready for our chicks. Almost every night I would read more about raising chicks, check out picture of the different breeds, especially the ones we had ordered.
We decided the garage would be the best place for set up. We got a dryer box from the local home improvement store, cut it down to size . Placed it on a pallet in the garage, which was well insulated. Next we had to get a feeder, waterer and a head lamp with a red bulb. So off to the local farm supply store. There we got all we needed. Our next concern was bedding, I had read that newspaper was slippery and could lead to spraddle leg, and paper towels would need to be changed often. We decided on ground up corn cob, this worked fantastic. It provided good support for their legs, and it was easy to clean out with a slotted spoon (much like a cat's litter box). I also got a indoor/outdoor thermometer at a local department store. I put the transmitter in the bottom of the brooder box, and kept the receiver end with me, that way I could monitor the temperature in the brooder and adjust the height of the heat lamp as needed, which wasn't all that often.
Within a week we were ready and waiting for our call to pick up our chicks. With one exception. Both our kids were off at college, my husband had planned a hiking/ski trip to Tuckerman's Revine which he was scheduled to leave on the day the chicks were due to arrive, meaning I would be home alone. Nervousness set in, as they would be only day or so-old and this was our first time raising chicks, what if something tragic happened? I had been reading about some loss of chicks due to "survival" of travel, and other means of loss. This prompted me to call the feed store and order 2 addtional chicks, one Rhode Island Red and one Buff Orphington - just in case. Now we had to address the issue of a coop. . .see coop construction link for information.
I had scheduled to take the day off from work, as it was a Friday, and I would have the weekend alone to care for them. Husband was due back on Sunday evening, and he would take over during the day time when I was at work.
I awoke on the 17th and anxiously waiting for the phone call that they had arrived. My husband had gone out to run last minute errands for his hike. When he returned, he had a shoebox in hand. As he gently handed it to me, and I could hear "beeps" coming from inside. They had arrived. He wanted me to be surprised. And gee was I. . .to say the least. When I opened the box, we had gotten 3 Rhode Island Reds, 3 Silver Laced Wyandottes, like we had ordered, and 3 very black chicks. "Where were our Buffs???" I asked him. The reply I got was, "I asked the person at the feed store if these three were buffs, and she said yes, that their feather will lighten up when they come in. She thought he was pointing to the RIR's, but he was pointing to the unknown black chick." We were really looking forward to Buffs!!! We called the feed store, as we determined that there had been a mix up we got someone else's chicks and they got our Buffs. We were told they had given away all the Buffs. We immediately went to surfing the net to determine what these black chicks were. . . it turns out they are Black Stars.
I build a couple of small roosts so they could hop on at night. It was amazing to se ehow quickly they took to them. They would also roost on the edge where the two rooms of the brooder were joined once they grew out of their one room brooder and needed more space, before they were able to move to their coop outside.
As our chicks grew, they needed more room. We went back to the home improvement store and asked for two dryer boxes (thought the first one needed to be replaced as they had been in it for 4 weeks already). We got two boxes. Got them home, taped them together side-by-side, and cut a 12" x 12" square on the adjoining wall. Taped around the rough edges so the exposed cardboard was sealed. Filled the bottom with ground corn cobs. Swapped moved this into place under the heat lamp and transferred the chicks into their two room condo. They were very hesitant about going into the box that didn't have the heat lamp over it, as it was dark. As soon as we put a regular task light over it, and brightened it up so they could see in there. They moved in.
As time past and we knew all 8 were going to survive chickhood, and because we really only wanted 6 at the most. We contacted a vegetarian friend, who also got new chicks the same day, and asked that when our chicks got to be 10 weeks old, if she would take two, as she wanted to add to her flock. She quickly agreed. So, knowing that two would go to a wonderful home on an actual farm, it was still a difficult choice to make on which would stay and which would go. Finally, one Rhode Island Red, and one Black Star were decided upon. I believe these were the two bottom chicks in the "pecking order", and hoped that they would integrate into another flock happily. That happened two weeks ago, and I am thrilled to report that they are happily situated in their new flock, and are "not", I repeat "not" at the bottom of the pecking order. That bit of knowledge alone made the sadness of giving to away, a little easyier to deal with.
So here is a recent picture of my 6 girls, taken on June 29, 2009.
The Clucking Club
Ms. Nasty CJ Lucy
(affectionately named, of course) (Chick of Justice - defender of the flock) (as in Lucille Ball)
Star Not named yet - nothing seems to fit Bette