The first thing we did for our farm was order layer chickens. The idea of chicks was very exciting! We moved in the middle of March and from research, we knew we needed to get them growing in order to reach maturity and start laying before the days shortened too much in the fall. If they didn’t
start laying by then, they probably wouldn’t until next spring. We certainly didn’t want to feed them for a full year without getting any eggs! So even though it was just days after we moved in and boxes were still everywhere, the post office called and announced the arrival of our first animals. Brimming with excitement, we found our way to the post office and collected our peeping box of chicks. They peeped the whole way home. We grinned the whole way home.
If you’re like us, you wonder how they can make it in the mail for several days with no food or drink. When a mother hen lays a clutch of eggs, she doesn’t lay them all on the same day, and when they start hatching, she won’t leave till they are all hatched. Therefore, God gave them enough nutrition from the egg to last several days without food or drink.
March here is still too cold outside, so we set up their nursery in the garage. We used a plastic baby pool and filled it with coarse sand. An infrared heat lamp with a red bulb kept the temperature at a warm 98 degrees, and hubby had the great idea of putting the two-man tent tarp over the top to keep the heat in, with the flexible tarp poles making a dome shape.
We opened the box to a sea of soft black, brown, and yellow fluff, and one by one, we picked them up and placed them in their new home, dunking their little heads into the water dispenser, to teach them to drink. They figured out quickly on their own what to eat.
We ordered 30 pullets (females) and 3 cockerels (roosters), but the hatchery always throws in extras. Being a chick is a hazardous experience, and they don’t all make it. I knew this, but somehow I still felt responsible whenever one of them would die. I was afraid we were doing something wrong–was it too cold? Too hot? Wrong kind of food? Not clean enough? Did I not wipe their little bums well enough when they got pasty butt? We lost several, but most made it through and grew like crazy.
We found ourselves often in the garage, just watching them run around. We soon had our favorites and even named a few. It was hilarious to throw them special treats and see them grab one and run like crazy. Bits of purple cabbage were a favorite. In fact, cabbage made them so crazy, it looked like a football game! We enjoyed asking our friends with little ones over to see the little chicks and pet them. Exciting new stuff!