Sunday, August 31, 2014

Baby chicks - week 1

I have been wanting to expand our chicken flock for a while.  I have successfully convinced my hubby (he probably wasn't listening but he still said yes) and I ordered 10 tiny chicks.  Waiting for their arrival I was SUPER anxious.  I spoke to the post office every day and was thrilled when my chicks FINALLY arrived.  On a side note I'm still super amazed you can just order these live little chicks on the internet!  Crazy!  

When they arrived we FLEW from school that day straight to the post office to pick up our peeping package.  The lady at the post office had already fallen in love and kept our little package by her side all day. 
We brought them home and opened the little box up and there were 10 precious fuzz balls inside.  The kids faces when the box opened were priceless.  I thought the box looked tiny for having 10 but when I opened it I realized they were all snuggled together anyway.
We put them in their new luxurious home for the next few weeks - the Lowes box!  I immediately dipped each of their beaks in water to show them where it was.  You may be curious about how they survive while being mailed.  I thought this was so neat!  When they hatch (our hatchery it's in the wee hours of Monday morning) they ingest the yolk sak in the egg.  They are then mailed Monday afternoon.  We had ours by Wednesday.  They can live off that yolk sak and need no other nourishment for 72 hours.  That's why hatcheries mail day old chicks instead of week old etc. 
The kids were CRAZY about these chicks!  When we picked them up they felt like you were holding a cotton ball they were so tiny.  I was amazed how they immediately ran to the feeders and waterer and knew exactly what to do. 

I had read that baby chicks will just fall over asleep and it's scary.  So I noticed this one immediately seemed super tired.  As I watched the others I noticed they would sleep and pop back up and sleep and pop back up again.  This precious one seemed to only sleep.  I would try and wake her and she would just lethargically sleep in my arms.  I tried to hand feed her and dip her beak in water to give her strength.  I began to worry something was wrong because she would flip onto her back and just wasn't acting like the others.  Sadly she didn't make it.  I cried and cried and felt like I had failed her as a chicken Mama and I immediately felt like I didn't know what I was doing.  I have worried over the exact temperature of the box and Matt even joked that I looked like I was in the waiting room of the hospital because the night we brought them home I sat in a chair and watched them for hours.  Matt kindly buried our peep in the backyard.  The next day I worried as I was at work and rushed home.  They all seemed fine but as the night went on another started to act the way that the first had.  I noticed her only laying down and never getting up.  We fed her sugar water and read online and tried everything.  I was actually amazed at how long she survived because I was certain she was dying within moments numerous times.  She didn't make it either.  After speaking to the hatchery and watching our remaining 8 I have realized that some just are weak and that's life.  It breaks my heart but it's also been an interesting lesson to SK mainly about life.  A friend of me was telling me about her dad's comments when her sons fish died.  He told her that it's sad but having pets die is a way that children learn about life and death and come to an understanding - especially because at some point in their life a person will die too.  We have talked about this with SK and had prepared her ahead of time that some could possibly die on the trip or after.  I felt she was prepared.  I apparently hadn't prepared myself. 
I am happy to say that almost a week after they have hatched that the remaining 8 chicks seem to be happy and healthy.  I can tell a big difference in them and the ones who passed.  They are growing, eating, fluffing their fuzzy feathers around too. 
This is our pin worthy brooder box.  I initially was going to set them up in our garage because it's very warm in there and chicks need to be kept very warm.  I couldn't take the garage so I immediatley moved them inside.  It's a large, completely in the way, area!  My sweet husband hasn't complained a single time that the chicken brooder is overtaking our laundry area and where he keeps his treadmill.  It allows me to keep an eye on them, and the kids to frequently check on them.  My biggest worry about them inside was Oakley.  I should have known she would be fine.  She is the best dog!  When they first came inside she looked at them and looked in the box and hasn't even given them a 2nd thought since.  We do have the child gate around the box just in case though. 

Here are some of our sweet friends.  I can't tell all of them apart just yet but they are so precious!  This little girl loved roosting on my finger.  
This little one below is my most fiesty hen.  She is adorable but flips out if we try and pick her up!
The one below is the only one who has been named.  Matt named her Harriet and I love her.  She was a surprise on hatch day.  We had originally ordered 2 silver gray dorkings (the one pictured above).  I got a call from the hatchery on hatch day that only 1 had hatched.  I was given a choice of what was available.  I was thrilled when a breed that wasn't available when I ordered was that day.  Harriet is a silver laced wyandotte and I can't wait to see how beautiful she is when she grows up. 

It is absolutely amazing to me how fast these chicks grow.  In just a few short days I can already tell how much bigger they have gotten.  One of the neatest things is that when they arrive they look like balls of fuzzle.  They begin very quickly to get feathers in and actually look like chickens.  This one has the most pronounced "real" feathers on her wings that you can see in this picture.  Catching them at this stage is hilarious.  Luckily they are in a small box so it isn't hard.  You wouldn't think that at a week old they would be so fast but it would be similar to catching a mouse for how quick they are.  They also can bob and weave and really try and avoid being caught.  I look forward to them getting bigger so they can tolerate the temperature much better.  We will be extensively handling our chicks so they are very friendly and of course easy to catch.  We also have a friend who's father is hatching chicks in the next few days.  We are anxiously awaiting their hatching as we will be purchasing a few from him as well. 

I know many think we are crazy chicken people - and by many I mean my husband who doesn't even like birds!  I can honestly say that keeping chickens has been  so much fun for us and we are super excited for these to grow up and incorporate into our flock.  We are also super excited for the day closer to winter time when they will begin laying eggs. 

SK will be selling eggs once all these begin laying eggs.  If you would like to regularly receive eggs from her please contact me and let me know.  We will be selling a dozen for $4 and a 1/2 dozen for $2. 

Turning 30