Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chicks, the Second Week

Growing up fast:  Rhode Island Red chick at two weeks old.
Our chicks have lost their adorable fuzzy appearance and instead look more like buzzards.  We read about this stage, when their soft down gets shaggy and is pushed out by tiny pin feathers coming in.  Feathers have begun to grow on their backs, thighs, and neck.  They look like living pin cushions; they have begun to preen themselves as if feather growing feels uncomfortable.  Their legs and feet are no longer spindly and fragile; they are putting on weight, so they must be enjoying their food.  This week we added grit to their diet and have started feeding them greens (red clover from the garden!).  They are very good at flying, but cannot flutter out of their 3-ft. high stall.
Comb and wattle, though yellow, are looking more chicken-like.

Tiny pin feathers are growing out of this chick's neck.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chicks, the First Week

Rhode Island Red chick at one week old.  A miniature comb and wattle are growing on its forehead.
Wing and tail feathers.
The chicks are a week old now and are growing fast.  They have doubled in size since we brought them home, and they are showing loads of personality.  We have our eager ones, reluctant ones, curious ones, and shy ones.  Some are assertive, first to do everything; and others prefer to follow.  Feathers are starting to grow out from the shoulder, wings, and tail.  Thanks to those wing feathers, they are getting rather adept at cruising around in their 8 ft. x 4 ft. brooder pen.  It looks like a couple of the chicks are playing at pecking order, and not necessarily the largest ones either.  Maintenance is very low - we refill the feed tray every other day, and we haven't yet had to refill the gallon waterer.

3rd-year semi-dwarf nectarine tree.
We have an excellent stand of spinach this spring; lettuce, carrots, and onions are just sprouting.  Peas just went in the ground over the weekend after being pre-sprouted in wet paper towels.  Indoors our peppers, dill, and bedding flowers are growing under lights, and we will add to them tomato and other warm-weather crops this week.  We're still enjoying peach and cherry blossoms.  Happy first day of Spring!
Bush cherries in bloom.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Baby chicks are here!

A golden comet chick explores its new home.
Outside, the air is warm, hyacinths, cherry trees, and peach trees are in bloom, and cool weather crops are sprouting out of bare ground.  These events lead to one undeniable conclusion:  Spring has arrived!  After months of waiting, we are the proud parents of a dozen healthy chicks.  Rhode Island Red and Golden Comet chicks are happily peeping in our brooder; they have taken their first drinks and meal well.  I'll spare you all the details and get on with the show.
Baby chicks in their box.
Rhode Island Red chick.
Getting their first meal.
Taking their first drink (electrolytes have been added to
the water).
Happy in their new brooder.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Ready for Peeps!

Movable chicken coop with run is ready for our Spring flock.  Baby chicks arrive March 12!
Our kids are in love with the fluffy marshmallow treats that hatch on seasonal shelves in Spring, but this year they get to experience baby chicks for real, a whole dozen of the chaotic, peeping, melt-your-heart balls of fluff with two eyes and two legs.  They are being shipped on March 10 and will arrive to us two days old on March 12.
Chick feed, electrolytes, and other essential chick supplies.

Since January, when the chicken coop was finished, we have added an enclosed run on wheels and a brooder (a brooder is a safe place to raise baby chicks where they can be kept warm until they adjust to normal outdoor temperatures).  Our brooder is a stall, appropriately housed in the barn, with plenty of space for our growing flock.

Homemade, 1-gallon chicken waterer
with chicken nipple.
Clean water is vital to success, and we decided to use chicken nipple dispensers rather than the traditional inverted poultry waterer.  Baby chicks love to scratch up bedding into and even poop in traditional poultry waterers, which need to be cleaned frequently and can tip over.  Chicken nipples keep the water supply clean and bedding dry, saving us a lot of work.

Can't quite say all that's left for us is to harvest organic free-range eggs in six months, but we've done nearly everything possible to make for a successful and enjoyable first season with our backyard flock!

The brooder is set up in our barn, with heat lamp.

About Me

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Dedicated to the responsible production and preservation of healthy home-grown food to the glory of God. Isaiah 55:10 The rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater. Organic, or not? We try to raise vegetables organically, using compost and manure. The addition of chickens to our hobby farm means plenty of organic nitrogen to compost! This site gives credible reference to planting information contained in the Farmer's Almanac (www.farmersalmanac.com).