Let's start at the very beginning: Make sure to research all you can about chickens. Picking out a chick can be exciting, just make sure the employees listen to you when you say "I want that one." Chicks don't care if you bring a new one to their home, they'll happily accept the newcomer. Your rational side can't ever tell what gender the chick is for the first time, my instincts knew though. If a chicken happens to be a roo (and you can't have one around) make sure to look for a new home ahead of time. Chicks start to establish dominance (or as my family calls it, play chicken games) when they've started growing tiny feathers. The oldest chick (in our case D.J) will teach the younger ones how to scratch the ground. Chicks DON'T KNOW THE MEANING OF BEDTIME! Everytime is playtime! When they get taller and full of more energy watch out for jumping chicks! Chicks are fun to raise.....the poo in the hand though........it's not fun.. Obviously, when chicks get acquainted they never want to be apart. To clean a chicks bum of crusty poop, it takes patience, gentleness, warm water, tweezers and someone to help if necessary. Don't ignore shavings in the waterer, the chicks will cry about it until someone fixes it. Chicks are very curious, they'll peck EVERYTHING, including freckles, teeny-tiny dots and a odd spot on the box. With everyday handling and gentle touch, the chicks will bond with you, just show them that you're no threat and you're the one to give them protection, food and water. On to the pullet times: Watching your pullets grow is exciting and don't worry about the pinfeathers sticking out, they'll grow in eventually. Don't rush your chicks when they go outside for the first time, door inspection is critical! For some reason they need to inspect every nook and cranny. It'll take time, but your chicks will get used to the run after a few days. Spend even more time with your chicks and the greatest part about it, they're now OUTSIDE! Enjoy the chicks in the spring sun. For protection and comfort, the chicks will want to get on your lap and shoulders. Make sure to let them climb up your leg first for they can't jump high enough yet. Even the youngest pullet needs a wing (Peepers), let them cuddle under your arm, it's very cute and warm and they'll get over it soon so enjoy every second of it. Your chicks will enjoy running around the run, SO MUCH ENERGY! When your hen (who deep inside you know is a rooster) crows on your lap, arching his neck out, then you know that he's a he. When saying good-bye to your roo, who you thought was a hen but knew deep inside was a rooster, let it all out if you have to. The girls will mourn too (Rosie sure liked D.J...but it's still nice to know he's living happily at a no-kill farm). When letting your girls out for the first time it can be pretty scary and exciting at the same time. Make sure they stay by you until they get much, much older. Look up in the sky, you never know who could be stalking your pullets, whether it's a hawk, crow, osprey or raven. Don't let predators near your flock. Think of a way to tell them they're not welcome (I outstretch my arms and flap them if the bird gets too close. It's worked so far.) Even your beloved dog will try to get your chickens, work with them and train them to submit and avoid your birds (thank you Cesar Milan for letting the world rent your DVD's!). Now for egg laying and hen times: Your pullet, as she grows, will peep but start to cluck and sometimes her voice might crack. You can never tell what your chicken will sound like. Our Austrilorp Melody had a little peep, then a high pitched cluck (when she talked to Mr. quail) and now she has a deep cluck. Your girl's voice might change after the first egg is laid. Roise our RIR had a weird WooooooooooAAAAAAAAA in her voice, then when she laid she had a sweet, little Goo-goo-goooo. You can never tell who's going to be the top of the flock or the bottom. Melody used to be the shyest when she was a chick but now she's at the top and Peepers our EE is at the bottom (but that's no surprise.) Your hens will be forever your friends and stick close to you and talk to you. Every moment with you is excitment to them, they'll ask for you attention, make sure you're alright, preen the hair on your skin while you try to crumble bits of crusty poop off their fluff, trust you and make your days all the more worth while. Even when they can't lay anymore, that doesn't make them less lovely to me. The gang's all here! (SummerTime) Rosie our sweet Rhode Island Red Ruth our sing-songy Silver Laced Wyandotte Peepers our little Americauna Melody our tough, yet shy, Austrilorp All the girls' eggs Why not? David our dog, who's been through the adventure too And good 'ol D.J our cute Black and White Polish roo! Happy 2013 everybody! And have a happy Chick-a-rific year!