Archive for February, 2010

Heralds of Spring

February 14, 2010

The chicks at home in the brooder coop.

The post office called on Thursday morning.  When I answered the phone, the postmistress announced, like a proud midwife, “You’re a mommy!”  Our 41 chicks–15 Speckled Sussex pullets, 25 Black Australorp pullets, and an Australorp cockerel–had arrived from Cincinnati, where they’d hatched the day before.

The brooder coop, where the chicks will live until they are big enough to move in with the older chickens, had been prepared with a bedding of straw and wood shavings, walls to keep out drafts, quart jar waterers, chick-sized feed trays, and the all-important heat lamps.  If our chicks were being raised by their hen mothers, they would be kept under her wings at a temperature of  around 90 degrees until they get their own feathers after about 3 weeks.   Since we don’t have wings, we use these heat lamps, adjusting the height to keep the chicks comfortable.  

As Carden headed out to turn on the heat lamps and fill feed trays and waterers, I raced to Campbellsburg to bring home our chirping box.  They’d had to get “tuned up” after their cold journey from Cincinnati, the postmistress told me, but the chicks were quite vocal when I arrived.  Their lively sounds filled the post office, then the car, and then sparked the curiosity of Tierra and the resident hens when we arrived back at the farm. 

Of course, where chicks are concerned, there’s no shortage of cuteness.  These photos don’t capture the moment when a busy chick stops in her tracks and falls asleep on her feet, or, for that matter, when a sleeping chick suddenly wakes up and sprints through the clumps of other sleeping chicks with results reminiscent of bowling alleys.  From eating and drinking to cuddling up with each other for warmth and comfort, everything these little ones do is precious. 

The first three days and nights have been cold ones–Thursday night’s low temperature was around zero in these parts–with more wintry weather to come.  We still have loose ends to tie up from winter, from finishing our taxes to gathering firewood to season for next winter.  But the arrival of the chicks signals Spring is on her way.