It is chicken adoption day at Bluestem Pond and I am so excited! We went to the farm store and I got to pick out a dozen little day-old chicks to bring home. I got 3 Araucana (they lay colored eggs), 3 Isa Browns (a friend’s favorite laying hen), 2 Rhode Island Reds, 2 Silver Laced Wyandottes, and 2 Golden Laced Wyandottes. The Wyandottes should be very pretty when they grow up.
It was so fun to look at them at the store, tiny little balls of fuzz with beaks. The ducks were quite cute, too, but I think I need to work my way up to ducks and turkeys. Let me master chickens first. My mother-in-law is visiting and went with us. She really loves birds and grew up on an Arkansas farm so we pumped her for chicken stories. She remembered her mother wringing the chicken’s necks prior to Sunday dinner. The kids were allowed to bring home friends from Sunday school to share in the fried chicken feast.
I don’t think I’ll be capable of “processing” a chicken that I’ve raised, so I’ll have to find someone who could do that service for me when the time comes. I am shooting for laying hens anyway. We’ll see when they get older if any of them are roosters. The man at the farm store said that if you need a rooster you can usually find one on Craig’s List from someone who ended up with more than one. Two roosters cannot coexist peacefully, apparently. But I have read that a rooster will defend his hens to the death if necessary when a predator comes around. They sound the alarm and call them all back to the safety of the coop. Sounds like a good arrangement to me.
Now that the babies are home, we have set up a little pen on the back porch. I followed the beginner’s checklist and bought two warming lights, water and food dispensers, chicken feed and pine shavings for the floor. We put them into Fionny’s old wire puppy crate, inside a big cardboard box. Already, the most adventurous chick figured out how to slip in and out between the bars. It was not long before the others followed suit. At the very least, the crate will protect them from the dogs if they sneak in for a visit.
Fionn is very interested in the little cheeping things. We’ll have to keep an eye on him for quite a while, till the thrill wears off – if it ever does. Once they are a couple months old we’ll move them to the chicken coop which should be done by then. Joe is planning to fence off a run for them under the overhang of the back of the barn so that they have a protected area to scratch around during the day, but I hope that they will be free range sometimes as well. It comes down to the level of danger that develops from hawks, dogs, and coyotes.