Monday, March 8, 2010

Waiting for my Chickens to Arrive

I am starting this blog to document my experience with having chickens. We have about an acre behind the house, should be enough for several chickens. I also plant a garden in the spring with my husband Mark. He wasn't too excited about the chickens at first, but the closer we get to their arrival date the more excited he is getting.

So far I have the brooder starter kit and the electronet fence. I have been doing so much research on chickens and what we need to do. We have a front porch which we are cleaning up and will prepare it for our new babies.
They are arriving on the 31st of March. We plan to have the brooder kit set up a week early and test the heat lamp to make sure we have it right. We still have to get feed.

22 Days to baby chicks

Today I learned from the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy that baby chicks actually need a starter feed with about 28% protein. Nobody that I know makes such a high protein chick starter but the starter feeds for turkeys and game fowl are much higher in protein than for chickens. They recommend using one of those.

21 Days to baby chicks

Here is a picture of the type of chickens I ordered.
Today I received two books in the mail.  I skipped all my morning activities, threw myself down on my bed next to my little girl, who is sick today, and began reading.  The first one is a book by Robert Plamondon, called "Success With Baby Chicks".  Extremely useful information and very detailed.  The other book is by Prince T. Woods, M.D. called "Fresh-Air Poultry Houses".  Both books are published by Norton Creek Press and are available at a great place to find almost any book you would ever need.  I have also been reading through all the material pertaining to chickens on The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy website, .
I started a binder for keeping all the information I print out and other that I jot onto paper together in one place.  I am keeping track of expenses on a computer spread sheet categorized by permanent costs, set up like the coop, electric fence, waterers and feeders etc., and yearly like, baby chicks, feed etc.

20 days to new baby chicks

I visited a website today, , watched numerous video clips and did some reading.  Linked to Mother Earth News, an online source for earth friendly enthusiasts.  Saved a link to where I found lots of interesting information.

On Fred's website I watched a video story about a family who grow 6,000 lbs of food a year on 1/10 of an acre.  wow that was very interesting.  And yes, they also had some chickens.

19 days to new baby chicks

The excitement is mounting.  Spring is almost here.  I will have to start a new blog for my gardening experience.  I have been researching a lot about gardening too.  Sustainability, new favorite word.  Chickens really do have a lot to do with that subject so it all ties together.

17 days to baby chicks

don't get too excited or you'll be sick by the time they get here and you'll need to be quite well to get them off to a good start.

15 days to my new baby chicks

14 days to my new baby chicks

Yesterday Chloe and I went to Landmark.  I had never been there before.  I loved it.  The staff was awesome, friendly and helpful.  We bought feed for the chicks.  I decided on turkey starter which is medicated because it has much more protein than chick starter.  I also got a bale of pine shavings for their bedding.  We bought seeds and buckets and an extra heat lamp for backup.  In case something happens to the other one.  I asked about diatamaceous earth, they didn't have it, and they didn't really know what it was but they said they would order it for me.  If I can't find it around here I will have to order it online and that will be very expensive.

13 days to new baby chicks

All of a sudden I'm finding myself enjoying anything to do with chickens.  Last night PBS or Thinktv (not sure which-I was drinking wine and I was tired) had a show about chickens, it was an hour long and I totally enjoyed it.

12 days to new baby chicks

10 days now

Worked on the area for the chicks yesterday, it was a beautiful day.  Mark decided to put chicken wire around the outside of it.  It makes sense.  He was thinking about as they get bigger and maybe push the draft guard, this way they won't be able to.

 Dad's in the chick pen.

8 days now until baby chicks arrive

Yesterday I called the post office.  The guy who answered said he would call me the minute my chicks arrive.  He said he does it all the time and was used to doing that as long as the instructions were on the box.  The place I ordered from (Randall Burkey) asked for two phone numbers.  Home and cell.  So I feel good about it.

7 days to new baby chicks

Found two new chickeny websites today.  and also a link on little red hen farm to a ton of chicken resources.  Little red hen had a price list $3.00lb for a dressed chicken and $3.00 doz for eggs.  Interesting.  They also have a prepaid BOC - bulk order club.

6 days to new baby chicks

today I found a couple more interesting chickeny websites, and very cool.

5 days now

and snow covers the ground.  It's still march so it isn't really a surprise.

Only 2 days now.

No more snow and temperatures rising.  Good deal.  I had a hard time staying in bed this morning so I got up early.  "With visions of baby chicks going through my head"  more realistically - what still needs to be done.  Mark was going to finish his project yesterday, but he didn't.  He has put chicken wire around the board which I'm planning to house my chicks.  It is a good idea as it will keep them from falling off.  It needs to be tacked all the was around.  I know I could do it but I am not since I felt that he really wants to be the one to do it.  I had wanted to get it set up and test the heat lamp.  But it still sits there undone.  Now I'm getting nervous.  If he doesn't do it tonight then that's what I will be doing tomorrow.

I got a call from the post office this morning.

Baby chicks are here.

All healthy and chirping.  No pasty up butts.  Started drinking and scratching immediately.  They are only 1 day old and only traveled for less than that.  I am really impressed with my hatchery.  Randall Burkey Co.

I expected them tomorrow, I don't know why.  But when we got the call I got so excited.  I was on only my second cup of coffee.  Mark said, "you better get dressed, that was the post office."  I ran upstairs, my clothes were downstairs, oh well.  I brushed teeth and hair etc.  Then, all of a sudden I couldn't think how to get to the post office.  So I looked it up in the phone book, thank goodness for those things.  Then I had to defrost my car windows and back out between two vehicles.  Very difficult under the circumstances.  The roads weren't bad and I had green lights almost all the way.  I went to the
back door where the trucks pick up their mail loads for the day. I was pointed to a set of swinging
doors through which I met a postal worker really happy to see me.  I waited not more than a couple of minutes.  She handed me a small noisy box.  "We've been keeping them warm for you." she said.  "Oh thank you so much" I said.  I turned around and headed for the car.  All the way talking to the chicks.  "It's momma," I said.  "I'm your momma, I'm going to take care of you and make sure you have everything you need and more."  The chirping continued until I turned on the heat.  I had placed them on the floor in the front passenger side.  There were still little chirps but not nearly as loud as before.  I hope they felt safe finally being with their mom.  I talked to them all the way home.

This is the little box they traveled in.  All the way from Texas.  I couldn't believe they were all in that tiny space.  But they are so tiny and being all huddled together in a small space is what keeps them warm.  They weren't hungry yet because they had just hatched and their little tummy's were still full of egg yolk.

They are hungry now.  First thing out of the box they started pooping.  Mark put large sheets of cardboard down for them.  I gave them some warm water with a little sugar in it and dipped there beaks into it as I took them out of the box.  Then I filled the feeder and placed it near the warmth but not too close.  Then I sprinkled feed all over the cardboard.  They immediately began scratching and pecking at the feed.  Some of them ate it right out of the feeder.  I placed their little straw mat that they had traveled on under the lamp so they could feel at home when they wanted to warm up.  After I was sure that they were eating I put some shavings around the edges.  They thought maybe I was giving them some food, so they ran over to check it out but soon left it alone for the scratch on the cardboard.  After another little while I put some shavings on little piles of poop.

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