Tuesday, March 10, 2009


We have chicks! It's not the first time we've had chicks..... we got out of the chicken bid'ness a couple years ago.

It all started with 4 free banty hens I brought home from a post at the feed store many years ago. We added some roosters I bought from an online auction called Eggbay, now Eggbid. I even went so far as to buy an incubator and hatch eggs from scratch using a thermometer to keep the temperature steady and water to keep the eggs humid. I turned the eggs several times a day, waited 21 days and watched the little peepers hatch.

Our flock grew to around 30 chickens and Furry Husband was known far and wide as The Egg Man Koo Koo Ka Joo.

We lost some to old age - gave others away and once there were no more chickens, we sold all our feeders, waterers, heat lamps and chicken coops. No more chickens.

I heard Furry Husband say several weeks ago, "you know... I've been sort of thinking about getting a few chickens again" and didn't really think anymore about it.

Last weekend, I had Kylee (my little sister thru the big brother/big sister program) over Saturday morning. We were supposed to go to this 4H meeting REQUIRED to show a goat in the the Larimer County Fair. I received an e-mail the day before that people should get to the meeting 30 min early to check in, there were over 200 kids registered for each session and once the doors closed, NO ONE would be allowed in. There would be no late arrivals.

The meeting was 30 minutes away. Kylee was supposed to be at my house at 9:30, we'd get there by 10 and our session was at 10:30......

Only it was 9:45 when I got a call that they were running late... they didn't get to my house til 10:10. No way would we make that meeting and I didn't want to drive 120mph to make an attempt to get there only to have doors closed in our face. I was completely stressed out. Had to change my thinking, be flexible. You know, Kylee doesn't have to show a goat. We can still learn about them and there is a fun show before fair and there are other activities to participate in. Big sigh. No big deal. I think 4H is too structured for this big sister/little sister thing. There are simply too many variables that I have no control over.

I told her Mom when she got to my house we wouldn't be going to the meeting for the aforementioned reasons and because Kylee had some other function that day, I needed to have her home between 12 and 1pm.

Hmmm. Well. Now what do we do?

I made some calls.... the paint your own pottery place, Rollerland, Fort Fun Laser Tag. Nothing was open. Nothing in Ft. Collins opens until noon on Saturday. Kylee and I headed to town for window shopping and walkin around when it struck me... Kylee really likes chickens. Her family has a flock of chickens and Kylee has names for each one. I asked her if she wanted to go to the feed store to look at baby chicks? Her little eyes lit up and off we went.

Chicks are chicks... they get shipped in quantities of at least 25 in a small box with air holes through the mail. They need warmth to survive and 25 seems to be the magic number to generate enough body heat to keep them all alive and huddled together. Some chicks don't make it. They are sick or weak or who knows what. A wise and kind neighbor once told me, "Shanster, sometimes chickens just die."

The feed store has this big brooder with 5 trays stacked on top of each other full of chicks. The tray slides out and the top opens up so you can scoop the chicks out. When we arrived the top tray and the middle tray had some chicks laying flat out - not normal chick behavior. I opened up the brooder and scooped the sick chicks out.

Kylee looked at me with her eyes wide open. She whispered, "you can DO that??"

They were really cold. I think they got away from the heat source and were dying from cold. I gave them to Kylee and told her to keep them warm, cup her hands over them and hold them in the sunshine.

When it was time to go, she asked me if we should put them back in the brooder. I told her, well... if we put them back in I know they will die. Let's take them home and see if we can't help them out. I don't think they will make it, but we can try.

I asked the owner of the feed store, "how much for a couple of sick chicks?" He laughed and said, "Tell you what. You take those chicks home and if they make it you can come back to pay for them."

We had 4 chicks total. Two were much more active, the others didn't look good at all.

Kylee and I got home, I found a box, put a little chick starter in one of those plastic things you put under plants to catch water? I found a ceramic plant dish for their water and I called the neighbor to borrow a heat lamp.

Dang if I'm not resourceful when I need to be!

I took Kylee home and when I got back the two chicks I didn't think would make it had expired. The other two were alert and active.

Sigh. Guess we're back into the chicken bid'ness.

When we got home from Mexico, we stopped in the feed store to pay for the two chicks, buy some more chick starter, a waterer, a feeder.... the guys at the feed store are great. They were teasing Furry Husband (who was complaining about the chickens having promptly forgotten his mutterings several weeks ago).

"Hell. You're feeding 2 chicks, you might as well feed 20! Get them a box full of chicks - load them up with chicks!"

I picked out a couple more. Now we'd have 4. I told Furry Husband we should have 6 and just be done with it but I wanted a couple bantams. Bantams are 1/4 the size of a regular laying hen and cute as the dickens.

I called around to other feed stores. Found one with bantams or bantys. I picked out 2 red cochin banty chicks and they happened to have Americaunas..... I grabbed one of those too. Americaunas lay blue eggs. shrug. Seven chicks. We should have white, brown, red and blue eggs from our layers.

Furry Husband looked at me. He looked at the 3 chicks in my hand.

"I thought you said two."

"yeah, but one is an Americauna - it'll make our egg selection prettier"

"You said two. You have three."

"Honey! It's an Americauna... and the others are banties so you need two to make up one chicken."

He gave a big sigh and shook his head. He honestly does not remember saying anything about wanting chickens again. Poor, poor Furry Husband!


Tracy said...

Welcome back to Chickenville, Shanster!

I think I am going to get another flock of layers for eggs to sell and I am also going to my hand at raising some meat chickens this spring and summer.

Doug will have a lot of chicken crap to shovel:)

Shanster said...

It's been awhile... I'm lookin' forward to those fresh eggs!

Good luck with the meat chickens! Will wait to hear about them on your blog...

Dedene said...

I wish I had enough courage to have chickens. We have enough room.
Hooray for you!

Shanster said...

Dedene - you'd love having a few girls and fresh eggs! :)