Saturday, we "adopted" 3 chicks from our neighbor's nephew - a teenager whose parents said "No" to his bringing home the result of his science project (incubating eggs to hatchling + stages). Having named them already, Michael had become fond of them... and fortunately for him... we saved these cuties from being used later as another biology project (dissection material). They were delivered to us in a small cat carrier... and instead of a cardboard box or commercially made brooder, we are using a medium size dog carrier. The shavings supplied with the chicks were few, so we lined the bottom with newspaper too. It wasn't long before we discovered that their water "bowl" had been over-turned and a big mess was created, ultimately resulting in a very frustrated husband After spending a long time researching "how to parent baby chicks"... one site suggested using dry leaves (which we had... pecan ones... in abundance) so plan B ensued. More paper lining + our "organic cover." That too became a big mess and hubby balked again... so from Sunday afternoon, our threesome were walking around on newspaper only, to my sorrow. (I had already learned about "splay leg" and had visions of River, Sunny & Barley rocking around without the clock!) "Mamachick" (our Russian daughter calls me "Mamusik") got up at 3:30 a.m. this morning to check on our babies and I have yet to back to bed! (11:42 p.m.) A good part of our day today (Monday) was spent on "preparation for proper parenting of peeping poultry." So.... After a 60-mile round trip to the farm store today (where we bought a large bag of pine shavings, starter/grower crumbles, antibiotic water additive, a "tray" to use with a mason jar for water, and even a box of grit/gravel) we arrived home feeling "ready" Boy were we "humbled" quickly... as within an hour or less, the chicks had scratched the newly layered shavings in all the holes in their food container, and had completely filled the bowl area of the new water dispenser. I suppose we learned a lesson the hard way? We need to elevate the food and water somehow, or create a "dining room" area where they go to eat which doesn't have shavings nearby. Chuck had a vision of a "two-room" pen with a "doorway to dine" joining the two together... but if we do that, we would keep the light in the sleeping quarters for the most warmth. Will 4-week old chicks be able to process how to maneuver back and forth to and from??? Chuck dislikes the pine shaving "fluff'and the mess the guys make with it... He mentioned maybe sawdust, but I've read it's not really advisable. I read about DE and Stall Dry... for odor/moisture control from the pooping, but Chuck doesn't want to spend the extra $$$. What do we do now??? Can they (at 4 wks) just be on "wire cage bottom?"... with the newspaper underneath to catch the poo? What do we do now???