Saturday, April 6, 2013

In Which I Am a Sucker for Babies: Our Chick Story

I've been very lax in writing this blog - first I was sick, and then work picked up like crazy, so I didn't get a chance to tell you about the six baby chicks we got the second week of March to add to our flock.  Of course, the year olds decided the babies were something to fear as my daughter tried to introduce the babies to them; They still think they are something foreign when the year olds and the babies are both outside at the same time, but I'll explain that in a minute.  First, baby pictures of the babies.

All six, at a week old.  We thought we knew what they were, but as they grow, we're clueless.

Mighty protector of chickies - or as we call them here, peepie cheepies - he sees it as his duty to protect all of the chickens, no matter their size.

Pretty sure this one is another brown leghorn - the year olds looked this way at a week old. We have one of these.

The yellow ones - we have three of these.

Daughter believes these are Gold Laced Wyandottes - and as they grow, they seem to be looking like it as well.  We have two of these.

At first, I was worried - two of the golden ones seemed delayed in their growth.  Each of them had a couple cases of pasty butt, easily dealt with - even if the chicks do not agree.   For a while, the two of them could fit in one of my husband's hands, as the rest of the baby flock got larger.

As these yellows got bigger, their wings started coming in buff and white, baffling us as to exactly what breed they are.  If you know, please tell us!

here we are at the three week mark.  See the wings?

You can tell who is in charge of THIS flock!

At fur weeks, we took the babies outside for the first time, with the big girls. Rogue, Nip, Magellan were all very curious, craning their necks and looking at the babies like the are a new kind of food.  Baby ran away from the chicks, Roadrunner ignored them completely, and Poppy - well, Poppy took exception to them, coming over and pecking the largest yellow - the one "in charge" above - on the head. Just once, but that was enough. We picked up the babies and took them back inside then before Poppy decided to get more aggressive.

Their first real outing was on Easter. All the chickens got to come out front to take advantage of the newly sprouted grass.  So while the older girls were getting their fill - and begging my dad for the grapes he'd unknowingly gotten out of his car - he didn't know grapes were one of their favorite treats - the babies did their first wander out.  And like toddlers, they stuck close together at first, and close to the humans.

And then suddenly, they all stood still as if dazed; the warmth of the sun was something new to them, and they had never before laid over and spread their wings in what we call the "broken chicken" pose. (Believe me, it freaked us out the first time we saw our now year olds do this - we thought they'd suddenly gotten ill!) It was so funny to see them slowly fall over, lay there a few seconds, and then jump up again.

The other two dogs were equally interested in the chicks - as I've told you before, the oldest dog likes to follow the hens around and try to wash them, and the middle dog likes to herd them together if she's decided they've gone too far.  However, the oldest also relates chicks to other birds - and other birds she likes to catch and then let go.  Luckily, she has a very soft mouth.
Here she is looking sorry - guess what she did? That's right, picked up a chick!  Three humans yelled her name, and she immediately dropped it, and went aside to sit. The chick in question? Perfectly fine.

On Thursday, I discovered this and decided it was time for sure to get a bigger box. Daughter works at the grocery, so she brought home a couple of large boxes we combined into an even larger box.

We thought this was funny.

Here's daughter showing off the five week old shoulder pet!  You can see the lace wing effect starting. She also tells me they are at the "ugly" stage.

New box, the final box before they go into the pen - however, they are still too small for the pen - they could pop right out of the chicken wire!

Still in charge, still keeping an eye on me and my funny clicky small box.

And here is where I have become a sucker. The feed store was having a sale today, so we went over to get a large bag of feed, and a large bag of scratch. Also picked up another bag of baby food.  There, in watering troughs, were the last babies of the year. Buy one, get two free.

Yep. Well, I wanted some black ones,  But wait, there's FOUR in that box!

As I was picking out the babies I wanted, I picked up a tiny one and noticed it had a blood crusted vent. I mentioned it to the clerk, and she said I could have her for free if I wanted.

So this is Freebie.  Yes, that's her name.  If you look closely, you can see her butt is swollen and still a bit bloody, but I had cleaned it off, put triple antibiotic ointment on it, and let her loose. She poops just fine, eats well, and these four young ones picked up o the pecking at grit and grass their first day out with their month older "sisters".

Already hanging out with the big girls.

A bird flew over - and they automatically grouped.

Three of the new tinies.

Freebie is so smart, she's already figured out how to perch!  She is also the only one around with fuzzy feet.  So now we have four more we don't know what they will grow up to be!

Everyone is getting along fine in the box - there's been a bit of dish hoarding by the older chicks, so we temporarily put i a second dish.  But when it comes to sleeping, they've decided separate corners are best.

And such is the story of how I'm a sucker for babies - rather see them come home with me, grow big, maybe become dinner someday than to have them thrown in the trash because they get ill. Our flock has gone from eight, to seven after the fox got Riding Hood last November (Ironic, isn't it?) to thirteen, to seventeen.

Definitely gonna need a decent sized coop.

Call me in November for eggs - we'll have tons!

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