About two weeks ago, the post office called again in the early morning. The stork had made another visit. This time he brought 26 chicks of several varieties: Anconas, Black Australorps, Pearl Leghorns, New Hampshire Reds, Columbian Wyandottes, and two Speckled Sussex cockerels. In addition, the hatchery sent one Buff Cochin as an exotic breed “bonus”.
Mark has since sold nine of the chicks and one of the cockerals. We are down to a total of 22 birds, including the five keets.
To say Mark has been busy is an understatement. I believe he added 20-30 minutes to his mornings. Let me add that while I was more than willing to help with his goat project, I’ve been less so with the chickens. I will hold and pet and coo but I would rather not clean their boxes. Nor has Mark asked me. It is one big YUCK. Mark is very faithful about it but it’s pretty much a losing battle. They poop a lot!
We have three brooder boxes. Each box, which is a actually a plastic tub, is covered with a wire screen which Mark made. On each screen he placed a lamp with a 75 watt bulb to keep these babies warm. Mark opted for the lamp and 75 watt bulb because heat lamps are a fire hazard. So far, his set up has worked very well and we haven’t lost any chicks.
Each day Mark changes the bedding and gives them fresh water and food. Their bedding is pine shavings covered with paper towels. The paper towels keep things a bit cleaner and make it easier to wipe out the boxes.
Mark chose these chicks for their egg laying ability, disposition and their cold weather hardiness. Some of the birds are Heritage Breeds such as the Black Australorps, Columbian Wyandottes and Anconas. Heritage Breeds are those listed as threatened, recovering, critical or watched. Eggs from the store come from commercial hybrid chickens. The commercial birds are bred for their ability to produce eggs fast enough to feed the American public; basically egg laying machines.
Our chicks are two weeks old now and beginning to molt. They are looking a bit bedraggled.
Remember the guinea keets? They’ve grown a lot in three weeks. Here is our first born in the front:
You can see the vulture-like head starting to develop. All I can say is they better get gorgeous plumage and eat their weight in deer flies because that head is just a bit freaky. I’m not sure I want them hovering over me while I walk the dogs or take a swim.
Here is Rooster Cogburn.
Rooster Jake Cogburn because I like the name Jake but Mark came up with Cogburn and I like that, too. He is a Speckled Sussex and will get deep mahogany feathers. And a loud voice. Sigh.
This is Palma and Fuzzy:
Little Palma was touch and go for awhile. She had problems with her poo caking up on her bum so we gave her some ground up oatmeal and electrolytes in her water. Mark wipes her bum everyday. When she peeps it kind of sounds like, “Wiiiipe meee oofff!” We also separated her from the rest since she is small and needed to gain some strength. I named her Palma because she will sit so nice and sweetly in your hand. She seems to be on the rebound now so we put Fuzzy in with her. Fuzzy is our “bonus” Buff Cochin and Jess’s pet bird.
All the birds move to a coop in two more weeks which, translated, we have two weeks to build a coop. As it is the girls are starting to test their wings and make a flapping fuss when they realize they are going to be fed. I hope they/we can make it two more weeks.
We have heard that there is nothing like a farm fresh egg. The girls should start laying in November. Let’s see, sixteen chickens laying one egg a day. Yikes! When you visit us bring your egg cartons. PLEASE!