Monday, April 29, 2013

Increasing the Flock

Literally. That isn't a pregnant metaphor. Over the weekend we got 3 baby chicks to add to our 2 full grown egg laying (well, in theory) ladies. I can't exactly pinpoint when it was that I decided backyard chickens were something I wanted, but I can say that for me, there is no going back. Getting chickens has been such a fun experience. They truly make our house a home, and I never get tired of looking out the kitchen window and seeing the ladies picking at grass or chasing bugs around.

Two years ago, we got 5 baby chicks, raised them in a giant tupperware storage bin, aka, brooder. I bought a book, consulted with some friends, and took the plunge. The first few days were harrowing to say the least. If I didn't hear any peeps for awhile, I would run into the laundry room, only to see all of them flat out on their faces asleep. Likewise, if I heard one peeping loudly a whole bunch I would run in there, check the temperature, and talk to them. Luckily, we did not have any issues raising the little ones, except for one turning out to be a rooster, which we just gave to a friend with land.

Our four ladies began laying eggs nearly 4 months to the date after getting them, and we enjoyed their bounty for well over a year before the raccoon incident. Six months ago, we lost 2 of our chickens to neighborhood raccoons. Luckily we never heard a sound in the middle of the night, and my husband noticed what had happened right away and cleaned up the feathers strewn about so I was none the wiser until two days later, when he told me. Since the raccoon incident, the two remaining ladies have been a nice team, but no eggs have been laid. We think they might have been traumatized. :(

A few weeks ago I noticed the feed store started advertising chicks, and I got really excited. The hubs said he would dig out all the brooding stuff (feeder, waterer, heat lamp, tupperware, etc.) and get it all ready so we could pick up some chicks. We also needed chicken feed for the older girls, so we decided to just make one trip to the store. Last Thursday was supposed to be the day, but when I arrived home, I found a BBQ going on taking advantage of our rare 70 degree day. In the PNW, you just can't take those days for granted. So, on Saturday, the hubs bolted up out of bed and exclaimed we were out of chicken feed. I was like, "ok, we'll go on Wednesday." I needed a few days to mentally prepare, and we needed to round up all the stuff. "No, there's no time like the present." We had about 1.5 hours until hubs had to be at work, so we rushed out of the house and to the feed store. We picked up our feed and 3 new chicks. When we got home, we frantically ran around getting everything together. I washed out the big bin in the tub, the hubs found the heat lamp (the most important thing) and the feeder, etc. We set up the bin with some pine chips, turned on the heat lamp, put the new ladies in their home, and called it good. The hubs left for work a few minutes late, and I realized I hadn't eaten anything yet. I still was distracted by getting the girls settled in, so forgot about it. After about 30 minutes, I checked the temperature in the brooder to make sure it was at 90 degrees, and could raise or lower the lamp if needed. Temperature was good, girls were sleeping, and I went on about my Saturday.

After doing a few chores, I went to stick my head in the laundry room, and I noticed before I got there that it was not glowing red. I walked in and the heat light was out. Explative, explative, explative. The hubs was at work, I had no car, and I needed to keep the chicks warm. I immediately thought of the hardware store 2 miles away at the bottom of a huge hill, and called them to see if they had chicken supplies/specifically a heat bulb. They did. Meanwhile, I somehow found an old 60w incandescent bulb in our house, which is nuts because we switched to flourecents years ago, and put that in the lamp and lowered it a bit. I ran around getting all my bike stuff ready to bike down to the hardware store and also to give it a few minutes to see if the regular light bulb would be a temporary fix. The regular bulb, albeit bright was providing sufficient heat and the chicks didn't seem to mind. I hopped on my bike and coasted down to the store, picked up the bulb, and then got ready to bike the 2 miles back uphill. It was then I realized I still hadn't eaten. Oh, well. Gotta save the chicks! The round trip journey took me about 40 minutes, and a major crisis was averted!

Biking up that hill made me really appreciate my body and all its capable of. Sadly, there have been times in my life that this little mishap would have been much more difficult (even impossible?) due to how out of shape I've been. In the past, I might have just started calling friends to drive me rather than immediately just hopping on my bike. It was a good reminder that the time I spend everyday at the gym is worth it, because you never know when you are going to need a little endurance to save 3 lives. :)


  1. Those chicks are soo cute!! enjoy them! I want some but our cat would probably get them.

  2. Those chicks are adorable! I'm thinking my condo board wouldn't approve of chickens. HA!

  3. adorable!!! Please post lots of pictures of them growing!