This is the post excerpt.
Why Birds, Kids, and Jesus?
Well Birds because apparently I am a crazy lady who decided that I needed to purchase 22 baby chicks with no experience whatsoever to raise for eggs and meat. Kids because I have children ranging from 3 to 15 and they are a large reason why we decided to buy a farm in the first place. And JESUS because the good LORD knows I couldn’t do it without him.
Since I recently came home from our local Tractor Supply store with 22 baby chicks in a brown box, I have been googling my eyes out. It came to mind that if I document what I learn maybe someone else will be able to learn from my blunders.
First lesson learned: Do not buy chicken’s on a spur of moment decision just because your husband finally had a moment of weakness and agreed to let you bring “some” home.
Thankfully Tractor Supply graciously showed me all the supplies that I would need to get started and sent me home with brochures full of basic need to know information for raising chickens. When we got home I moved the chicks into a larger plastic tote full of bedding, food, and water, until I could get one of our watering troughs clean and dry.
Within a few hours our newest additions were set up in our garage in a large watering trough, complete with soft bedding, heating lamp, food, water, and a baby cakes pecking block.
In our new little flock we have 13 Asian Blue chicks and 9 Rainbow chicks. It has been 3 days since I brought them home and so far so good. They all seem to be adjusting well.
I have been reading so much information that I am dreaming of chickens in my sleep. I believe that my chicks range somewhere between 2-3 weeks old based on the information I have read online. They are just starting to get some feathers. The Asian Blues have already doubled in size in 3 days and have twice as many feathers than when they came home. They seem to be a bit aggressive and definitely curious. The Rainbows have not changed much so far but seem to have a much sweeter disposition and a bit more shy.
I am very excited to start documenting our new adventure. I will continue to upload pictures of their growth and progress and write about what I have learned and the blunders I am sure to encounter along the way. I am open to suggestions and advice if anyone wants to chime in. All is appreciated. As I begin this new adventure I will have to remember that ” Through Christ I can do all things.” Phillipians 4:13.
The near freezing temperatures, dark clouds, stinging rain, and overall gloominess of the day yesterday fit well. Most days my blog is focused on my chickens and like the weather yesterday my chickens have been my small rays of sunshine as all 22 of them are still doing well.
However, the blues have certainly set over our household as we layed a beloved member of our family to rest on the hill by the tree.
Sometime in the night Sonny passed away quite unexpectedly. For such a large dog, I guess he lived a average life span of 7 years but it is hard none the less. He will be well remembered.
For now I pray for comfort and healing for myself but mainly for my oldest son who will no longer experience wet nose kisses in the morning or 100 extra pounds trying to share his twin bed. I will pray for my other three dogs who do not understand why their playmate is gone so suddenly.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV
Whatever the reason maybe, I know the Lord has a plan with our best interest in mind. I will see my friend again in time beyond those pearly gates.
Hardware cloth in place, sand down, lights up, door locked, and chicks in place. After a long day of basking in the sunshine and pecking at bugs in driveway, the chicks have been relocated to the new 10 x 10 coop in the barn.
I have some fencing separating the chicks that have been in different brooders for the last week. I tried reuniting them today outside in the yard but it did not go well. The hens did ok but the roosters on both sides were not happy and attacked the other chickens. They are flying small heights right now so I will be checking on them often tonight.
This little one is taking a sand bath in the bottom left corner. That is where she stayed for the first hour.
I would say they are pretty comfy.
Here are some pictures from our outside time earlier today.
We will sleep good tonight.
I am ready for winter, bring it on with the snow. This 50 degree weather with all this rain is just miserable. Snow just doesn’t have that bite that comes with cold rain. With all the damp weather we are having, I am having trouble getting the coop dry.
We decided to switch the location of the coop at the last minute. One reason being that the original spot had some leaks causing rain puddles to sit in the floor and the other because this spot was easier to build in a coop with the supplies we have handy. So we had to do some pressure washing before we could get started.
This is the space we went with. In this picture, the cement was quite wet because we were pressure washing the inches of cow poop off the floor. It is in the center of the barn, the loft is above it, it already has one cement wall in place that just needs some patching. The posts were already wood so it was easier to add on walls. The floor has a slight grade which will help with any water drainage. The coop is still a work in progress but the guys have done a great job.
I now have 4 walls, a door, and a window. Oh, and I have a light. My husband is picking up sand today and the hardware cloth has been purchased to cover the eves and any additional holes. So it won’t be long and our chicks will have a new enclosure to spread their wings.
They need it. They are getting big and these guys are flying everywhere.
After church yesterday afternoon, the rain that we have been having finally ceased and the sky gave us a few rays of warm sunshine. I had just fed the chicks and thought it was nice enough out to take a couple of them out of the trough and let them graze around the yard. The first chick I picked up just about gave me heart failure.
Not sure if you can see it well in this picture but this little guy has a huge lump in the side of his neck. Never having chickens before I thought I had a really sick chick. Things like giant puss pocket and tumor going through my mind. I immediately called my oldest son for help corralling chickens and started inspecting each and every one. To my dismay, many of the chick had lumps resembling this one. Some were smaller and some were larger. I was feeling like a horrible mother hen and wondering what I did wrong as well as what could I do to save them. After about 5 minutes searching the web, I felt very stupid but very relieved. I had never noticed this before on my chicks but apparently it was quite common. As this area on their neck is where the crop is located. The crop is where food is held before it is digested. The chicks had just eaten and much akin to a hamster who eats really fast and stores his food in his cheek pouches, these chicks had eaten really fast and therefore had enlarged crops.
So the scare of the afternoon ended up leading to playtime in the fall leaves and a few rays of sunshine. All of the chicks had a nice run outside.
I am glad I had a helper because 22 chicks can be difficult to keep up with.
The chicks played, pecked, and pooped.
While they spent their afternoon outside I set up another little habitat. They are getting big so fast that I thought maybe they were overcrowded causing them to compete for their food.
It was so warm through out the night that I ended up keeping the lights off and this morning they are as active as ever. Today is coop building day. Updates to follow!
How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.
Psalms 36:7 KJV
Trust is such an important thing. Just as we need to put our trust in our maker, your chickens need to be able to put their trust in you as their caretaker.
Just being there everyday providing food, water, bedding, and other daily needs is a good start. The chicks now loudly greet me every morning when I walk in the garage. When I put my hand in the trough to pull out the food tray they all gather around eagerly awaiting fresh crumbles. Sometimes they don’t want to wait inside the trough for me to get back though.
Once everything is in place I often feed them from my hand. I am hoping this also will help to further build that trust.
This little one always seems happy to jump right in my hand.
This morning my hand was not the only part of me getting pecked. This little guy kept pecking my arm but he is not having any problems getting close to me. Unless of course I am trying to pick him up and then you would think I was carrying him off to slaughter.
I am sure I probably won’t be carrying them around when they are grown but I don’t want to be attacked when I have to go into the coop to clean or gather eggs. I also don’t want them to be afraid and hurt themselves trying to get away.
We are working on that not being afraid part. I had to take them out of the trough tonight to clean the trough. It had gotten a bit stinky.
Trying to catch these guys both to take them out of the trough and especially putting them back in was difficult to say the least. They were scared and running over, under, and through whatever obstacle was available. It took forever to catch them all.
I think they had a good time though.
I also think that they were good and wore out for the night as am I.
Today the weather was absolutely gorgeous. The sun was out and gracing the land and the animals with its rays of warmth.
From looking at this picture, you might think he was dead. However, I do believe he was enjoying pure bliss. I came home for lunch and chose which ever chick could be caught first. This little guy was the lucky winner and he won a walk outside in the sunshine.
Once he found the sun he layed out, spread his wings, and stretched a few times, taking in the rays. I was a bit jealous.
This little guy is going to have some beautiful red feathers around his neck. He is the only Asian Blue to have these little red feathers so far. It is very interesting. I can’t wait until he has them all.
Later after work was over, my daughter and I had the evening to ourselves so we took a handful of chicks and put them out in the dog yard. The dogs were not so happy about this since they were stuck in the kennel but the chicks thought it was great.
The 3 stooges
Not sure if my daughter was trying to be a chicken or help them out.
But they didn’t mind.
It got dark out way too soon and catching these guys was not an easy feat but thankfully they are now too big to fit through the fence holes. They are now all snug as bugs back in the trough with a lid on it. Now that they have had a taste of freedom, I can’t have anybody escaping in the night.
I am so happy to report that I came home yesterday to find 22 healthy and happy chicks. My rainbows nearly doubled in size in just 3 days.
Feathers coming in all over the place.
These little guys are also showing off those feathers by trying to fly out of the trough.
I snapped this picture just as take off began. He or she did not quite make it to the desired location but it was a good shot. Feeling bad for the lack of success, I lifted him out and let him sit on my lap for a bit.
The others quickly became jealous, so all the flyers got a chance to explore new ground.
It didn’t last long enough I am sure. However I am not a fan of cleaning up poop off of the garage floor. So the outside visit was shorter than desired. Maybe tomorrow I can take them outside for a little while. The air is cool by the time I get home from work and even though they have feathers I am afraid to let them out for long.
We played hide and seek with the thermometer again. They seem to be fascinated with it. I have to say that another thing I am not fond of is digging in bedding for a thermometer and then having to clean poop out of the crevices. Word to the wise: don’t buy this type of thermometer for your baby chicks. Although temp readings work great it has been more of a toy.
I love watching these little guys. Each day they are developing more of their personalities. I am afraid that I have way to many roosters on my hands and I am very sad that I won’t be able to keep them all.
If you are buying more for fresh meat and you have a soft heart I do not advise getting chicks. You just get too attached.
It was a bit chilli this morning so the chicks got some warm oatmeal to go with breakfast. At first they did not know what to do with it. Then I sprinkled some food crumbles on top and that was all she wrote.
It was gone pretty quickly. I put some grit in with the regular food to help them digest the treat.
I am very good at spoiling. Everything from dogs, children, and now chicks.
I just love to see them happy. It makes me warm inside. 😃