We are thrilled that things broke above freezing temperature-wise this weekend, not only for our own sanity, but also because we had our second shipment of baby chicks on the way, and we realized that we needed to build another brooder pen. It’s always better to transport babies, and to work on projects, when the weather isn’t so frigid. The brooder pen we’ve been using has served us well over the past year, but it’s seen better days, and we’ve learned a lot in terms of pros and cons about its design. As you can see from the photo to the left, it’s hurtin’. The Plexiglas hinged lid is long gone, and we’ve been using some plastic tote lids to keep the birds contained. It’s going to get retired once the previous batch of chicks who currently reside in it are moved out to the larger outdoor brooder coop, which is likely to occur within the next few days. They’re ready for the big time!
One thing we definitely realized is that we needed to provide more space to the little fuzzbutts, and we knew we wanted to provide that space indoors for the first couple of weeks of life before we move them to that outside coop, so that means having it in the basement. Not being jazzed about the idea of more floorspace being taken up by a large box, I thought about the planting table we had built down there last year. It’s where I start seeds for the garden, and is made from a recycled Formica countertop and some 2×4’s. We really like to reuse and re-purpose any time we have the opportunity, and this project was no exception. It’s a quality cultivated early on in life for me, when I would build forts in the woods using old pallets and scrap wood. I’ve never lost that scavenger spirit! While we did need to purchase some additional 2×4’s, screws, tiles, hinges, and a latch, those items only totaled about $30, $25 of which was from a gift card! Not bad, considering that most brooder setups we’ve seen cost $100 and up. The other great part of this is that it didn’t take up any additional floorspace. We had some plywood, hooks, and other miscellaneous items on hand that we incorporated into the project too. One of my favorite re-purposed aspects of the project are four shelves from one of those media organizers, where you store DVD’s and CD’s and the like. Those shelves came up as extras during our move here in 2008 – orphaned from whatever they originally belonged to, but I hung onto them. This is one of those times it pays to be a pack rat! They made the perfect end cap wall that is easily removed when we need to clean or reorganize inside the brooder pen.
We were expecting to receive a call from the post office on Sunday afternoon, as is the routine when we have chicks shipped, but no call ever came. By 5:00 p.m, I figured I had allowed enough time for a late truck and a shift change, and so I tried to track someone down. Of course, nobody answers the main line, but I changed the last digit of the phone number, hoping to ring in on an off-hours line, and I scored on the first try, reaching someone at the union desk. She asked if I had called earlier, because they’d received numerous calls that day from different people looking for their chick shipments. I explained that I hadn’t, and she realized that there was a larger problem, and tried to determine what had happened, but without success. I’ve tried following up with various agents within the USPS, but all that they can determine is that the truck carrying the shipment of chicks left the Detroit Metro Airport facility at 6:44 a.m. yesterday, and nobody knows what happened from there.
In any case, we were thankful to receive a phone call from our local post office this morning informing us that the chicks had arrived. There does appear to be one Americauna chick who is a littleworse for wear, and we are concerned she might not make it, but we are hopeful. She’s just listless, is having trouble standing and opening her eyes, and spends most of her time laying down under the heat lamp. I did dip her beak in the water and got her to drink, so maybe she will perk up. Everyone else is behaving as one expects! When you order from Murray McMurray hatchery, you have the option of receiving a rare/exotic chick with your order. I think we have three Turken (naked neck) chicks in our order, or at least, I’m hoping that’s what they are. If they are regular chicks, they are bald in the same patches you’d expect from a Turken. They’re pretty adorable, whatever they are.
The new brooder pen is a major improvement over our first one – and you can tell by the way the chicks are running around in such a happy manner!
We really need to get a video editing program that will allow us to dub over our jibba-jabba. But here’s a video of the little babies enjoying their new digs. Enjoy!
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