apple cider vinegar, black australop, bloomfield ny, brooder, cuckoo marans, family farm, finger lakes, hatchery, heat lamp, maple sap, new farm, organic chickens, priorities, Rhode Island Red, rochester ny, sloggers, summer project, Welp, Wyandotte
The post office called at 5:45am on Friday – yay! Our chicks are here! I loaded up the boys for an early morning drive. Our 25 chicks came in something the size of a box for a pair of heels. Yes, they send day old chicks in the mail. Ours look a couple of days to ship, so they were really about 3 days old when they arrived. We could not wait to get home and open them, and we were instantly in love. 5 days later, this is the story.
I took a recommendation for Welp hatchery. One of the unfortunate things about shopping hatcheries is the shipping costs. Many of them charge so much for shipping it ends up costing as much as the bird themselves. Having a $100 budget for chicks, I wasn’t anxious to spend half of that on transport. Welp rolls the cost of shipping into the cost of the chicks, making them a significantly less expensive option. While I was hoping for something closer, I couldn’t find all of the breeds that I wanted – Welp is in Iowa, but they have parters around the country. I felt bad when I realized that they had farmed out my order to somewhere in New Mexico. Can’t get much farther away from here! That said, I can’t complain about the product at all. They sent two extra chicks, but they all made it, they’re all in great shape, and all active and sparking!
So actually we have 27. I chose Black Australorps and Rhode Island Reds for their production, Silver Laced Wyandottes for their winter hardiness (and because they look cool), and Cuckoo Marans for their extra awesome eggs (pictured below in that order). I ordered all females with the exception of one straight run of 5 of Marans. I want at least one rooster so I can hatch that breed later. Looks like I got 3 boys in that straight run, so now begins the competition of who gets to stay. It’s not looking good for the one with perpetual pasty butt. I’ve had to clean him just about every day since he got here…think we’ll call him Soggy Bottom Boy. He’ll grow out of it, but the name… will stick – aaaaaaaah, haha, so punny. You’re never too old for poop jokes. (Pasty butt is basically what it sounds like. If you don’t keep it clean it pretty much turns into a cork, and you can imagine the rest.) Meryl down there, obviously does not struggle with this.
My brooder set-up includes an old trough I cleaned up and filled with pine shavings. I have a waterer on top of a seedling flat to keep the mess out of the water. My super water has garlic, apple cider vinegar and maple sap. The maple sap has tons of electrolytes, plus it’s organic and free so I’m using that rather than the little packs of powdered chicken Gatorade. They’re getting organic starter crumble food at the moment and occasionally some salad for a treat. I just mince up some lettuce or herbs and watch the tiny chicken riot. A lot of people feed them egg, but I just can’t stop thinking that it’s weird.
The heat source was a whole separate ordeal. I initially bought a regular heat lamp, but I saw so many fire stories that I got scared and bought a heat plate (the yellow thing in the picture). I put one of my seed starting heat mats next to it to expand the sleeping area a little and they seem content with this arrangement. They like the lamp, but this way I can turn it off at night or if we’re not home. I also learned the first night that I have to turn it off as the sun is going down or the sudden darkness scares the crap out of them! Oops… but now that this is the standard operating procedure, they cutely put themselves to bed when the sun goes down.
This morning I cleaned out their brooder (which they hated) and gave them a tiny mirror (which they love). Who knew chickens were so vain?! Also, my mother-in-law gave me chicken sloggers. Hilarious. So far, so good!