May 2 2012

Chicks, Day 2

So, caring for chicks isn’t nearly as intense as bringing home a baby, but there are some parallels. Last night Sam said he dreamed the heat lamp had gone out and the chicks were freezing to death. Meanwhile I got up four times in the night to check on them. I totally remember that—both the anxiety dreams, and the obsessive need to see the little bodies breathing—from when Robin and Davy were newborns.

The chicks are doing fine. They’re eating, drinking, and pooping—sleeping a lot, just like they’re supposed to—and exploring all around their little home during the times they’re awake. They make the most adorable little twittering sounds. They’re really gorgeous, with beautiful patterning and sweet fluffy little bodies. I try not to handle them too much, but this morning I scooped one up just to cuddle her. She was alarmed at first but settled in when I tucked her under my bathrobe, next to my skin. They are my girls, and I love them.

May 1 2012

The Chicks Have Landed


So, day before yesterday, I got a sudden e-mail from the chicken lady: the eggs had hatched! We could come get our chicks any time.

So we scrambled around, and brought our little flock home today. These Welsummer girls are only little babies, and they’ll have to live inside for the next several weeks. At six weeks or so, they’ll be hardy enough to transition to the backyard coop.

Their names are Henrietta, Penelope, and Genevieve—or Henny, Penny, and Jenny when they’re at home. We can’t tell them apart, but that’s fine, as I have not yet had any need to address them individually.

Right now I’m keeping a careful eye on them to make sure that their living space is the right temperature, and that their food and water don’t get fouled up. They have the most adorable habit of just all deciding to suddenly take a nap, at the same time, wherever they are. They just kind of…nod off, for a few minutes, often faceplanting right in the pine shavings. Then one of them wakes up, and they go off to explore for a little bit. They are like tiny, fluffy narcoleptics.

Robin is hovering over the brooder, giving the chicks encouragement and advice. “Don’t fight, baby chicks! You could be friendly. They are saying, okay, we could be friendly. Wow, those baby chicks is three. One, two, three. Three baby chicks. Like Davy, he’s a baby. Those are baby chicks. A baby chick is a kind of chicken that looks like a duck. And they could fly away in the sky. What about a rooster could reach the top of the barn? Whoa, that chick flies. Like that! Those chicks fly up in the sky. What the chicks are saying? Wheeeee! And they fly into their new home. They’re nice baby chicks at the house.”

Jan 17 2012

Bawk Bawk Bawk

So, for Christmas, Pops and Mo got us a really exciting present—a chicken coop for our backyard! Here’s a picture of the boys putting it together:


And here it is, all set up and waiting for hens:


For the past few weeks I’ve been chewing over the merits of various chicken breeds (Orpington? Ameraucauna? Marans?) but have finally settled on the Welsummer, mostly because this is one of the few breeds where males and females can be reliably differentiated as chicks. Oakland doesn’t allow roosters, so if we went with the other breeds we’d have to either buy adult birds, or face the probability that one or more of the chickens we’d raised up from little scraps of fluff—a bird that had bonded to us, and that we’d treated as a pet—would have to be sold off for slaughter. I think that would be rough on me, and the boys. By going with Welsummer chicks, we get to spare ourselves that trauma: and the Welsummer has a reputation as a good-tempered, hardy backyard bird.

So I’ve been e-mailing back and forth with Just Struttin Farm in Marin; they have Welsummers hatching soon, and if we’re lucky we’ll be able to take home three baby chicks in a couple of weeks. It’ll be so exciting, and a great learning experience for the boys. So, watch this space for adorable fluffy chicks, coming soon!