Mar 1, 2016

Hello Chicks!

I was definitely sad for our chickens and the horrific way in which their lives came to an end at the very beginning of this year. But I was also quite upset at the thought of starting completely over with chicks. We had just started to get eggs when winter hit, and thus egg production skidded to a stop. 

I had been looking forward to adding to our brood this year, but with the knowledge of knowing I'd be getting eggs from the older chickens while we wait for the new chicks to grow up. Now we're back to square one completely. Which means we have to deal with chicks in our garage and all the dust that comes with that, again. And wait a long time to get our first egg, again. 

Luckily, we have learned from last year. First, we moved the location of the chicks pen in the garage. Instead of having the pen just outside the door from the house, and right in front of a refrigerator and freezer we access often, we've moved the chick pen into the one car garage, which is on the other side of the two car garage. The two are connected by an archway. 
The chick pen was where the tool table is located this year. 
My biggest complaint with chicks in the garage is the amount of dust that gets over everything in the garage, from the fluff we have on the ground for the chicks. The dust got so thick in our garage last year that it brought cobwebs down from the ceiling. Seriously, it started to look like a Halloween Haunted House. 

We never fully recovered in cleaning last year's dust away, either. And for me, it's been frustrating to spend all this time organizing and cleaning the garage for chicks, who are just going to destroy it. And then there's the thought of having to clean the garage all over again, once the chicks move to the coop outside. 

The view into the second, 1-car garage
So this year, we plan to put up a painter's plastic sheet between the two garages (hopefully we get this done this next weekend). That way at least the two-car garage won't be as impacted by the dust. Our going in and out between the two garages, I'm sure some dust will find it's way in. 

We also did away with the flimsy plastic pool we used last year. Using bins we have stored in the garage already, and the base to Cameron's old lizard, Spaz's aquarium, we have created a little chick corral. We stacked the bins 3 high with the idea that if the chicks can get up that high, they belong outside. 

And there is the new chick corral
We also wanted to get chicks earlier than we did last year. Last year we brought the chicks home at the beginning of April. A couple weeks ago, we stopped in at our local feed store and Tractor Supply. Both already had chicks for sale. We set to work over the last two weekends getting the garage as ready as possible. 

Looking down into it. We got more fluff when we picked out the chicks. 
The first weekend, I went through boxes and bins and moved what I could to the shed in our backyard. I also went through and got rid of a lot of items. Amazing what you can part with when you haven't seen it in 2 1/2 years. Of course, I also found the keys to Cameron's Camaro - just weeks after we got it back from the shop, which included a $600 charge for re-keying it!

Then, this past Sunday, Cameron and I worked on creating the chick corral. We had it together so quickly, that we decided we had time to go get chicks that afternoon. We packed the girls up and headed to Tractor Supply. Last year, we got our chicks from the local feed store. We decided to give Tractor Supply a chance this year and see how accurate they are at sexing out chicks. We will still get our Turkeys from the local feed store in a few weeks. And just in case, we got 10 chicks, instead of 6. I'm fine with 1-2 roosters, but I sure hope we don't end up with 6. 

We purchased 3 Rhode Island Reds, 3 Rhode Island Whites, 2 Wyandottes and 2 Golden Sex Links. We may pick up an Amercauna or two (the kind we had last year as they lay the bluish eggs) when we get the turkeys too. All the chicks we have now are brown-egg layers. Oddly enough, Tractor Supply didn't have any white egg layers for sale. 

The girls, of course, love having new chicks around. The first thing Sydney wanted to do yesterday morning was go see the chicks. This made getting her ready for school real quick and easy. Both girls love going out to see the chicks and petting them. This new crop of chicks are much less skiddish than last years. Last year, all the chicks would run to the opposite end of the pen when we walked in the garage. This group really doesn't move. And we can pick them up more easily. You can just put your hand down and they jump into it. This can end up being a good or bad thing. As I see it, I wasn't emotionally attached to our last chickens at all, because there had been little to no bonding at this early stage. I bonded more with Christmas the turkey, followed by Thanksgiving. They just had more personality. 

This new crop of chicks may have more personality than the last, which means we may bond with them more easily. Which means, if something horrible happens to them, we would be more upset. Only time will tell. But we will be fortifying the coop to help prevent a coyote attack too. Hopefully, these chicks grow up and live happy, long lives while supplying us with lots of eggs. 

I'll try to get more pictures of the chicks soon. 

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