Sunday, April 26, 2009

Settling In

Our chicks started their life in an area classroom. Different classrooms in our area hatch batches of eggs as a special project and then on Fridays the chicks are collected by the Penn State Extension office, and given out free to 4-H members. This seemed like a great way to take the plunge, so here we are! We were expecting 7 chicks, but one didn't hatch (technically, it was a "dud"). They were supposed to be Rock Cornish Cross meat birds, but evidently the hatchery made a mistake and I understand that these will be red and take about a week extra to mature.

I have them temporarily set up in the dining room in the cardboard box they came in. Originally I had a bare bulb hanging down in the box, but we were afraid to leave it that way all day Sunday while we were at church and enjoying dinner with a few other families. So I splurged ($8.00) and bought the reflector socket you see in the picture. Combine that with an antique floor lamp base that can be easily adjusted up and down and I now have an adjustable heat source.

The chicks are waiting for me to finish my Whizbang Garden cart (just have to put the wheels on now!) With the rate they are growing (they seemed to have doubled in size in just two days) I better get that cart finished soon! Eventually, I plan to build a couple miniature chicken tractors and will keep them out doors fertilizing our lawn and eating bugs. I will be getting a second flock (12 chicks) in two weeks. This will, hopefully, give me just enough time to figure out what I’m doing with the first batch before the next batch arrives.

I’m surprised how my sons have taken to them. One has named them all already. We told him not to, but he’s gone ahead and named them Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Larry. (I’m not sure where Larry came from, and I can’t remember the other two names). What surprises me is that 2 of them look like chipmunks. A member of a chicken-oriented email list tells me he raises Americanas and that their chicks often look like chipmunks, so that may be the kind of chicken we end up with. An interesting fact is that the Americanas are also called the Easter Egg chicken because they lay beautiful colored eggs of blue-green shades from turquoise to deep olive.

To provide water, I purchased a small plastic waterer that holds a quart of water from Agway (~$3.00). I find myself needing to fill it once or twice a day. Actually I change it a little more often as the chicks seems to love kicking wood shavings into the water base.

I also bought the 14 hole sliding top feeder which seems to give them all plenty of room to line up for dinner (or take a nap!)

I hope to be following their journey from chick to platter over the next couple months if all goes well.



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