Internet shopping is dangerous. Especially when your eleven year old daughter is sitting by you, expressing little gasps of delight every time you add a different baby chick to your spring hatchery order. Neva has been pining for a few silkies, so I had to order some of those when I sat down to order the twelve leghorns I wanted as replacement egg layers for those picked off by the dogs. She’s always wanted some frizzles too, so I thought I might as well get a few of those, and don’t ya know, she would be in heaven if we could get some fancy cochins. Oh yea, and I don’t have any green egg layers anymore so I should probably throw in a few araucanas. And what are those cool things? Sultans? Gotta get a few of those… well, you can see how it happens.
Well, before you knew it, I had ordered 68 baby chickens. And I had buyer’s remorse.
68 chicks fit neatly in one reasonably sized box. Chicks are about the size of a power puff, after all, so when they arrive, it doesn’t look like all that big a deal. But unfortunately, they grow. And they grow fast. You can’t put young chickens in with older chickens or the older chickens will bully them to death. I wasn’t thinking about where I would house 68 chickens in training at the time. I was simply thinking that dogs be damned, I’d get enough chickens to assure I’d not run out of eggs again.
5 chicks were crushed during the mailing cycle, as is often the case. They huddle together for warmth and weaker birds often end up underneath the pile. Once you remove the perky, chirping chicks, you find a baby chick pancake on the floor of the box. Sad. Three more of the smaller chicks (silkies) were crushed after they reached me. Again, this isn’t abnormal. I didn’t step on them or drop a dictionary on their head or anything. It’s just that a few tend to meet an untimely end because they are very fragile and they have a habit of piling up for warmth – even when you have them in a cage with an inferred light set to the correct temperature so they don’t need eachother for warmth . The birds crush each other in their fight to sleep as a collective bunch. This sort of thing happens in nature too, even when they are living under their mom, the big red hen.
So, I now have 60 baby chicks peeping away in my office in two cages by my desk. In a week, they’ll be hearty enough to move into the garage. Two weeks later, they will move to the barn. Then, lord knows, I have no clue what I’m going to do with them. I have lots of cages and runs, but until these young’ins are two months old and/or the cold weather is totally over, I can’t put them outside without a heat lamp and I don’t have electricity anywhere near my chicken runs. I wouldn’t even consider asking Mark to whip up a few huge cages, considering his overworked schedule. Besides which, I may need to save that favor for when my baby bunnies arrive.
I’ve been mulling this dilemma over. Now that I’ve used all my winter hay, I’m thinking I can stretch and staple some chicken wire around the polls of my barn under hang where I normally store hay and put a big doghouse or two out there with heat lamps in it – the barn does have electricity. This could serve as a big makeshift pen until these birds are big enough to join the others in another month or two. Then, it will be time to order more hay, I can remove the chicken wire and the area will be free for it’s true purpose yet again. Creative solutions to animal dilemmas are part of the country bumpkin world I’ve so embraced. I happy to say, I’m a natural. It’s a plan, man.
My office is hot, thanks to the two cages set to 95 degrees right beside me. I keep the door closed because my cat keeps looking at the chicks like they are M&M’s and I promised Mark I wouldn’t keep animals in the house if he built me a barn. I’m pushing my luck by breaking the deal – even if it is only for a short, temporary situation.
The way these birds peep incessantly is really cute for about an hour. Then it about as appealing as kids whining “are we there yet” when on a road trip. I’m not about to keep Mark up at night due to chick disturbance. So I’m going to have to suffer a bit to do any writing this week typing with fingers slippery from sweat. Gasp. Gasp. And I must watch my peacock egg carefuly. The warmer room cranked up the temperature in my incubator. Uh oh.
The tulips we planted out front have come up. Every time we’ve gone outside, Kent and I have looked at each other and exchanged a sheepish smile. We’ve been waiting to see if we’re going to get in trouble. Mark is very particular about gardening design, and on the day we planted bulbs, Kent and I were in charge of categorizing the tulips into color piles and putting the correct bulbs in the holes as Mark dug them. But we started fooling around and making jokes and Kent pushed the piles around like the ball under the cup game, and before you knew it, we really were confused and arguing about what color was in what pile. So we guessed.
Sure as shoot, all the tulips that came up on the left side of the porch are pink and red tones, and all the tulips on the right are yellow and white. It’s very out of balance as gardening goes. Dang-it. We got reprimanded or course, and told we are gardening slacker losers to have interfeared with the masterful tulip extravaganza. I suppose we’ll have to dig them up and shift them around after they stop blooming to correct the problem. Nothing we don’t deserve. I say we should just buy more bulbs and thrust the opposite color into the ground along with what’s there now. Then we’ll just have more tulips of both colors on both sides. It may not be as striking as the color bock system but it’s another plan, man.
I have used up my new self-imposed blog time allottment. New rule. Must go. But I’ll leave you with a thought for the day.
Even the smallerst ideas can take root and change your world – it’s a wonderful time of year to begin new projects and to follow aspirations. The smallest ideas are sometimes the dearest. Nurture them.