Chicken Time!

When the phone rang at 9:15 this morning, I new it could mean only one thing:  the chicks had arrived.  Sadly, this story isn’t as exciting as some of you might hope – I’m not talking about exchange students, a wild A.M. party, or the Swedish Bikini team – I’m talking about real chicks:  baby laying hens:

Day old chicks!

Yep – only 3 so far – just the Araucanas.  These are the ones that will, hopefully, one day lay colored eggs for us.  We were surprised that they looked so different: one is off-white, one is mostly brown, and one has a brown mohawk stripe down his back.  The rest of our flock (9 more birds) will arrive later today or tomorrow morning.  They get shipped via U.S. Mail in a cardboard box with holes in it, and we pick them up at the Farm Store in the neighboring town.

We spent the morning readying our brood box, trying to get the temperature right.  It’s supposed to be 95 degrees to start, and we lower it by 5 degrees per week.  The temperature is regultated via a 250W bulb hanging from varying heights.  We have a remote thermometer sensor that feeds a station in our kitchen, so we can keep track of it.  The chicks will be inside, in this box in the basement, for several weeks before they move out to the coop in the barn.

Yesterday, I spent the morning not whipping around $LULU and $NFLX (unfortunately) but rather, helping a neighbor build a chicken tractor for his meat birds, which are three weeks old and ready to go outside.  My neighbor is a contractor, so my “helping” him was basically a free lesson for me, as I’ll need to build one of these tractors myself in a few weeks so that my chickens can roam outside without getting devoured by the plethora of predators.

Of course, the most interesting part of Project Chicken is seeing how my dogs will react to them.  The videos below are hilarious – both of Oscar (with his new summer shave haircut).  In the first, Oscar is quite perplexed, tilting his head at the chicks, trying to figure out what they are.


In the second, he decides to try to use his paws to figure it out.

Yes, he looks terrified, but we aim to have him wrangling loose chickens, herding them back into the coop in no time.

Interestingly, Mr. Griffey, who is basically scared of everything except Mrs. Dynamite, wasn’t scared of the baby chicks – he tried to nudge them with his nose and they looked like they were following him around like he was their mother.

And yes, for those keeping score at home, Mr. Griffey is still wearing a diaper.

Oscar & Mr. Griffey seem to be taking their jobs as chicken-watchers pretty seriously. They even got into a little dust-up with each other over whose turn it was to be watching the chickens.


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