Hatching A Plan…To Grow Our Flock

Have you ever ordered chicks from a mail-order hatchery? If you have, then you know all about the anticipation. Looking at that date on the calendar and knowing a batch of fuzzbutt cuteness is going to arrive is enough to make your brain tingle, not only from excitement, but also, the realization that you need to be prepared! We ordered chicks back in December, due to arrive the week of January 31st, and have been anxiously awaiting their arrival. We spent yesterday morning getting their quarters prepared, and hoping that perhaps, as happened with our order last July, the babies would arrive on Sunday. Although the hatchery states the delivery will be for the “week of” and tells you that they will normally arrive on Monday or Tuesday, since the chicks are sent by air freight, they will sometimes arrive earlier than that.

Around noon yesterday, we received a call from the main post office up in Flint. The very kind lady there informed us that the chicks had arrived, and while there wasn’t anyone staffing the front lobby window, we could come and pick them up on the loading dock. Whoo hoo!

When we arrived, she took me back into the building where our box of chicks and some others had been kept so that they would remain warm. How thoughtful. 🙂 We have more birds coming in the future, and if they arrive on a Sunday like this, I’ll be bringing her some eggs to thank her for being so thoughtful. She could have just waited for them to go to the local Fenton post office, and we wouldn’t have received them until today – but her concern for the welfare of the birds prompts her to call on a Sunday. I need to get her name so that I can write some accolades to her supervisor.

Driving home with a box of Live Peeps is always entertaining. These little day old birds are not sure of what is going on, why they have a sensation of movement, why they are in that dark box, and aren’t hesitant to vocalize their consternation. I try to peek in and talk softly to them on the ride home, and get them acclimated to my voice, and my fingers. Some of the little tweets seem to enjoy being petted, but then others want to test the puncture resistance of my skin with their beaks, which just makes me laugh.

We arrived home and opened the box on the kitchen table, as it’s easier to account for them all on a flat, stable surface while they remain in the box. This batch of chicks includes Jersey Giants, Black Australorps, and Golden Polish Crested (a.k.a. “Phyllis Diller” birds) breeds. They weigh next to nothing, so it’s just their fuzz and tickle-inducing feet that make you realize you’re actually holding them.

We moved them out to the small brooder house yesterday afternoon, complete with a low-hanging 250 watt heat lamp, and they were checked on several times, along with our existing flock and herd of goats. We even got out of our pajamas after climbing into bed last night, pulled on our outdoor clothes, and went back out to check on them one last time.

This morning, I realized that it was just too darn cold out there, even with the heat lamp. So, after some chaotic (and asthmatic) running around gathering up everything I needed in the barn and coop, they are now set up in the brooder cage in our garage, and will remain there for the next two weeks or so, until they are more feathered out and can endure colder temperatures more ably out in the brooder house. While they will still have a heat lamp for the first few weeks of their life, the difference between being in a building that is 3 degrees F and 32 degrees F (or more) is tremendous, especially for such a little critter. Of course, it also means that I get to spend more time with them, since they are so conveniently located. I’m not complaining about that, you know!

These are all females, and will start laying eggs around June. Well, there is a chance that there is a male in there, because the hatchery gives you a free exotic/rare breed chick with each order, and the last time, we received a Dominique rooster. It’s too difficult to tell which one is the rare/exotic at this point, time will tell!

We’ll be building additional adult housing for the new chicks to move into once they are big enough. We have quite a few construction projects on the agenda for this spring.

Enjoy the videos of the babies. They aren’t great at taking stage directions, but dang if they aren’t just adorable!

We hope you enjoy this blog and the antics of our farm. Please check out our fan page on Face­book and “like” it for spe­cial updates there, and if you use Twit­ter, by all means, please add us so we can tweet with you!

Related Images:


14 responses to “Hatching A Plan…To Grow Our Flock”

  1. Debbie Avatar

    So AWESOME of the lady at the post office! I Love it when people do the right thing – even when it’s not their ‘job’!

    1. Trase Avatar

      Isn’t it wonderful? And I’m glad SHE was there, because when we arrived, I had to ring a bell at the loading dock. I rang it repeatedly for 15 minutes, no answer. George drove around front to see if they had someone up there, just in case. Finally, I just took my fist to the door and pounded. All of a sudden, a guy’s head popped over a half-wall, and he buzzed me in. He snapped at me, “There’s a BELL you COULD HAVE rang out there.” I smiled and said, “I HAVE been ringing that bell for 15 minutes now.” He grumbled and wandered off. Fortunately, the lady was there and took me back to the chicks. I explained to her that I did ring the bell several times, to the point where I was worried that I must be disturbing someone’s quality time in the loo, due to the lack of response. That gave her a laugh, and probably indicates what really does happen with some of the other staff members, based on her response. 😉

      But yes, it is wonderful when people go above and beyond because it’s the right thing to do. One of my favorite authors, Albert Camus, once wrote, “Integrity has no need of rules.” This is certainly a fine example of that idea in action. 🙂

    2. Paul Suriano Avatar
      Paul Suriano

      I’ve had great service at the post office in Farmington, MI. Not only did they take great care of my chicks, they loved seeing them. When my bees arrived, my postal carrier actually called me from home to say he would be more than glad to deliver them before he started his route.

      1. Trase Avatar

        That’s great to hear, Paul! I had read some horror stories from other areas of the country on Backyard Chickens in the past, such as one where a carrier drove around with baby chicks in his truck for most of the day and ended up killing most of them, not once, but twice, to the same address! You’d think he’d have known after the first tragedy to not repeat it! So it’s good to know that there are post office employees who have integrity and will insure the safe passage of our critters to us. 🙂

        On another note, we inherited some bee boxes with our property in 2008. I’ve been trying to get up to speed on beekeeping, as we’d love to maintain the hives, but I just haven’t had the time yet. Do you think that hives that have been unattended that long have any hope? They did show signs of busy activity last summer…

  2. Terri Avatar

    Hi there! I loved seeing the video and hearing the peeping! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Trase Avatar

      Every time I go into the kitchen, I can hear them on the other side of the wall. Needless to say, there are a lot of impromptu trips into the garage today to see them! 😉

  3. Matthew Pressly Avatar
    Matthew Pressly

    Trase, I enjoyed your article and particularly the photo of the Golden Polish chick sitting on your hand.

    Now that you’ve moved the chicks into your warmer garage, are you seeing them spread out more in the brooder, or are they tending to cluster closely together?

    1. Trase Avatar

      Hi Matthew, thanks for visiting! We actually decided to play it safe and moved them right into the basement inside of the house, so there are no more concerns about drafts/warmth. They are spread out more in the brooder, definitely. And that’s what we are accustomed to seeing them do from past experiences. We have lost six chicks – five of which were the Golden Polish. I called there yesterday and they explained that the Polish breeds tend to be a bit more delicate, and may have gotten pneumonia during shipping? So we are hoping that the warmth of being in the house resolves any further issues. I did just go downstairs to visit (I’ve been checking on them every half hour or so) and noticed one of the other chicks (either Australorp or Jersey Giant, it’s hard to tell the difference this young!) had been scratching at her eye, and caused the bottom lid to bleed a bit. It’s not heavy bleeding, but any blood is alarming. I held her for a few minutes, and put her back, and she stopped scratching, so hopefully she is OK. I’ve just never seen a bird do that before. Any ideas on what that might be?

      1. Matthew Pressly Avatar
        Matthew Pressly

        It is hard to say exactly what would cause the chick to scratch itself. One possibility is an irritation resulting from something in the litter. If there is a wound, you can use Terramycin Eye Ointment (catalog #6teo) to promote healing and prevent infection.

        1. Trase Avatar

          Hi Matthew – thanks for the info. I’m not sure what was going on with that little chick, but we lost her within 24 hours. 🙁 We didn’t have any others scratching at their eyes, so it seems to have been unique to her. But I will keep the eye ointment in mind for the future! 🙂 Thanks!

  4. SlowMoneyFarmJan Avatar

    Looking forward to getting some new ones this week too – first of a few planned batches. 🙂

    1. Trase Avatar

      Awesome! Thanks for stopping by here. Will you be putting up some photos on your site of your new babies? 😀 What breeds are you getting?
      We have some more chicks coming next month, too – the “Rainbow Layer” variety pack. Then, ducklings at the end of March, and turkey poults at the end of April. And baby goats due to arrive at the start of April. So it will be a busy spring, for sure!

  5. Susank Avatar

    How sweet… mine come next week… I cannot wait!!!

    1. Trase Avatar

      The anticipation of new chicks arriving is almost too much to bear sometimes! What breeds are you going to be getting? 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *