Saturday, March 29, 2014

New Peeps

It has been a long winter, longer than any others I can remember. We've had more snow that North Carolina should be allowed and the kids have been out of school more than their (or their parents') sanity can handle. I'm ready for spring. So what does a chicken keeper do when she's ready for spring? Get a bin of chicks to keep her busy until it actually gets here, of course.

After Pouncey died, I started thinking about new chickens. We'd already discussed adding a few to our flock at some point this year and now that we were a hen down, we'd definitely want to add a few. I like to add at least two when we're upping our numbers, so the newbie has a newbie buddy and isn't being thrown into the flock solo (That's just my preference and isn't some sort a scientific poultry rule by which you have to live). Seeing as it was February, there wasn't any broody hens vying to be a mama out in the coop, so I did what any crazy chicken lady would do and made my husband set up a brooder in our kitchen. And like any good crazy chicken lady's husband, he did it. Within three or four days of looking, I found some and brought home four chicks, two Buff Orpingtons and two Ameraucanas.

My son and I picked them up from Little Birdie Hatchery on a Friday and they'd hatched that Monday. They are the cutest little fluff balls I've ever seen. Look at their grumpy little faces.

In case you aren't familiar with chicks, the yellow chicks are the Buff Orpingtons and the brown chicks with the Cleopatra eyes are the Ameraucanas. Orpingtons are great dual purpose birds and are usually nice and fat and fluffy. They're like Brahmas in their fat fluffiness. The Ameraucanas I'm excited about because they're layers of pastel green or blue eggs. I want some blue eggs! Cross your fingers we have hens. They also have the cutest fluffy faces because they're the chickens that have "beards."

So we now have four fluffy chicks in a bin set up with food, water, shavings, and a heat lamp living in our kitchen for the next however many weeks it takes for them to feather out (realistically something like eight weeks).

They can't keep themselves warm without feathers. That fluff is cute, but it's pretty useless. Without a mama, these babies wouldn't last 24 hours outside right now. We've never tried our hand at brooding. We've had a hen take care of the hard work both times we've previously had chicks. This is going to be an adventure. We'll be learning a lot over the course of this endeavor.

So far I can report that they peep constantly, so constantly that I'm now hearing peeps even when they are not peeping or when I'm in a part of the house where I can't actually hear them. Chicks are tiny, but they've each got a good set of lungs. Trust me on this claim. If you aren't prepared to hear, "Peep! Peep! Peep!…PEEP! PEEP!" for weeks on end, leave the brooding up to your hens or make sure you have a garage or basement or some room where you can close the door and leave them to their own devices. I've mostly learned to block out the peeping at this point. We've now had the chicks for almost five weeks. As you can guess, it's been a busy five weeks, which is why I am just getting around to sharing our new peeps news. I've got a hundred pictures of these cuties from the past five weeks, so I'll be posting more over the next few weeks to get caught up on their progress. Spoiler alert: all four survived and are thriving.