Photo by Jessica Walliser
Seven chicks arrived at our house this week, putting into motion our first attempt at raising chickens from babies.
Our babies have arrived! Last week, my son and I went to pick out our newest family members—seven little peeps. Although we’ve kept chickens for the past 10 years, this is our first experience starting with chicks. They are so darned cute and fluffy, it's tough to take your eyes off them!
Our little ladies are currently living in our upstairs bathtub. They have a nice mat of pine shavings, plenty of food and water, and a heat lamp to keep them cozy for the coming weeks. My son busily checks on them every few minutes to see what kind of antics they’re up to. It's pretty hysterical to watch them jump all over one another and stretch out their stubby wings. Plus, their constant "peeping" is just about the cutest thing ever. Three of them will move to a friend's house when they are fully feathered, and the remaining four will join our flock—doubling it in size.
In my mind, keeping chickens is one of the most pleasurable things a small-scale farmer can do. They provide a lot of fresh eggs (or meat if you decide to raise meat birds) and help manage insect-pest populations. But until we got our first flock of hens years ago, I wouldn't have believed that chickens’ personalities are as individual as cats and dogs—but, it's true.
Every chicken we have ever had, has had a personality all her own: Sally is flighty; Boo-Boo is bossy; Hammy is friendly and gentle; Flower is coy; and Cobby is as curious as can be. It makes me wonder about the personality potential of the seven little cuties currently pecking around in the bathtub. I look forward to watching all their little personalities develop and, once they are old enough to tell apart, we will pick names for them based on their individual traits. For now, we are enjoying watching the little fluff balls eat and eat and eat and eat.
If you are interested in raising chickens of your own, I suggest picking up Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens (Storey Publishing, 1995). It, along with The Chicken Health Handbook (Garden Way Publishing/Storey Communications, 1994), is the bible of chicken keeping at my house. I read it cover to cover before getting our first flock and continue to refer to it often. It's good stuff!
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