grandson helping wake up the chicks

grandson helping wake up the chicks

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Some time has passed and our flock has grown!

The first batch of chicks (Polish, Blue Andalusians, Americaunas
It was great having a small flock of chickens with our one "Bill", the rooster. But, Gary and I both decided that as we got to know more about chickens, we wanted to try our hand at raising chicks. So, he went online and ordered several different varieties; and, meanwhile, the feed store began to stock newly hatched chicks of various breeds that we did not order.

We purchased 6 chicks from the feed store, and away we went into learning what this was all about. We bought a heat lamp (red light so that they don't try to peck any chick to death that may have a bloody spot or injury)....we had to get small feeders and put rocks in the water dish so they wouldn't drown (who knew?).

This was quite exciting and time consuming as we made numerous checks on the chicks during each day. They would mess in their food and water....we'd clean it. They'd scratch the pine shavings into their food and water...we'd clean it.  Eventually, we learned to put their food and water up on a board to minimize the trouble of cleaning every hour or two.

They were so cute! We had two Polish (that looked like they had little afros), two Blue Andalusian, and two Americaunas. This was definitely new to us!

When our chicks were a couple of weeks old, Gary got a call that the post office had our hens from Texas. They had been boxed up right when they hatched and the poor things were very thirsty when they got here.  Now, we had 18 chicks and were a bit overwhelmed. The sad thing is that two of the Texas chickadees didn't make it past their first day (too much trauma I think) so now we were down to 16....and we decided we wouldn't be going far for awhile due to our new flock.

The Texas Chicks

During the third week of having the chicks, we went out  for a day and while we were gone, there was a terrible thunderstorm with high winds. This caused many power outages (including our house). By the time we got home and realized this, we had all of our chicks huddled in a corner (no electricity=no warming light) and one that was barely alive! I decided to warm her up and get her to drink...she was really having a difficult time and I didn't think she was going to make it....but little by little, she got up and moved around (her mate was walking all over her...I guess to say "get up and get living") and layed under the warming light that was running via our generator. I decided that if she lived, her name would be Victoria for "victory"....

"Blue" guarding his girls. "Victoria" on the right, "Stripe" in front and one of the Buffs on the left.

We watched closely to make sure the baby chickens had whatever they needed, and a day and a half later, our power went back on. Thank goodness for the generator! "Victoria" lived, and is doing quite nicely, thank you. The chicks continued growing until they were outgrowing their box in the garage and we had to first move them to my greenhouse and then to a small coop we bought just for that purpose.  "Victoria" turned out to be a gorgeous Blue Andalusian rooster and his name is now "Blue" thanks to my husband. We've named his mate (the one that wouldn't let him die) Victoria....and several of the others have names now too.

The first batch we started with were: Polish (Laverne and Shirley), Americaunas (Stripe and Gizmo), Blue Andalusians (Blue and Victoria).

The Texas girls' names have not come as easily, and some are still to be named...any suggestions welcome!  The Buff Orpington trio (Manny, Moe, and Jack); the lone surviving Silver Wyandotte (Lacey); two Golden Wyandottes (no names yet); one naked neck Turken (Nugget); and three Americaunas (no names yet)....

On top of that, I decided to try my hand at hatching some chicks for my third graders so I took 14
Brahma eggs to school and we had a batch of 11 babies hatch in April and are now living fairly cooperatively with the others. We have three generations of chickens and two roosters...we are getting about 4 to 5 eggs a day now as the youngsters start laying, and are having a ball interacting with them.

Brahma chicks and one Brahma/Barred Rock cross

Another sad note: While we were tending to the chicks, my sweet Ethel passed on. We found her a beautiful spot under the fir trees to rest. She brought us much joy and we will miss her. So, the adult chickens were now down to 5 including Bill the rooster, Betty White, Joan Rivers, Cher (the Barred Rock), and Lucy (unknown breed).

We've gradually incorporated first the teenagers, then the babies with the adults and they are all coexisting pretty well. Occasionally, Bill decides to chase Blue out of the yard, but that doesn't last long, especially since Bill is much more stout than Blue and can't run as fast...he tends to wear himself out before he gets close to Blue. Otherwise, they'll all become a community and are fun to watch and interact with. We let a few out into the yard each day to get away from the others. And, whether or not Victoria is one of the chosen, she lets herself out over the gate and joins her friends to explore.


Victoria has, by far, the most outgoing personality and will even come join Gary and I when we have lunch on the deck. She is very talkative and always has something to "say".  She even took to helping another chick "LaVerne" recuperate after a failed attempt to lay her first egg. LaVerne was at it all night long and when I found her in the morning, she was almost a goner. After giving her mouth to beak, warming her and forcing water, she began to look as if she might just make it. A half day under a warming light and more water helped, and when I took her back outside to be with her sister and Victoria, they sat right with her and protected her from the others...amazing! I'm happy to report LaVerne is miraculously back to normal....absolutely amazing recovery! We continue to have amazing experiences each day with our flock.

I look forward to next Spring when we can hatch Blue Andalusian eggs from Victoria and Blue....they will be beautiful!

"Victoria" and her friends

chicken house1

chicken house1
Our masterpiece ready for the chickens