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Four Chicks for City Slicks

Four Chicks for City Slicks

October 7th, 2007  · stk

The Kimler's add four fuzzy new members to their growing country clan. Read about the four baby (five-day-old) chicks that are living in a cardboard box, in the dining room

Four Fluffy New Chicks Arrive at the Hutton House

Things came in fours this week. Maybe it's because Alex turned four and we're sensitive to the number? It shouldn't have been a surprise that we were given, not half-a-dozen, not two ... but FOUR, four-day-old chicks, by our neighbors.

(Actually, I'm making up the 'four-day-old' part. I have no idea HOW old these chicks are. They could be 8 days old, for all we know about chickens). We're city-slickers, not chicken ranchers!

All that changed, yesterday, when we carted home four fuzzy (loudly chirping) chicks, in a cardboard box. Even our kitty is from the city. He barely glanced up from his favorite napping spot, when the brood of chicks arrived. We held one to his nose and he was more interested in the hand, than what was in the hand.

"Is that hand, holding that fuzzy thing, going to pet me?" he probably thought to himself.

For more pics of fuzzy chicks ... carry on.

Neighborly Neighbors

The neighbors on the corner raise chickens (among other things). They have three hundred or so. At least, that's what Scott thinks Rachel said. They sell the brown eggs for three dollars a dozen, at the hospital. (Georgina works at the same hospital as Rachel and takes the eggs to work, where she's got a loyal group of buyers). It works out great for everyone and because our neighbors make a certain amount of money from their endeavor, they get to claim "farm status" and pay lower property taxes. Wahoo!

All that sounds great, but Scott is a little skeptical about having to keep up with birds that need attention, even if he does enjoy omelettes and BBQ chicken.

 

The "Almost-had-Chickens" Story

We were supposed to get chickens, when we moved in, because the lady we bought the house from, had chickens and was going to leave them for us.

"I've sort-of promised them to someone else, because I didn't know if you'd want chickens," she said, when we came to drop off our belongings into the garage, several weeks before we moved in. "But, I'll call them and tell them you want them. I'm sure the chickens will be happier here, since they're used to the coop and the property."

Well, I guess she never made the call and when the people stopped by to "pick up the chickens", what could she do? She gave them the chickens and we inherited an empty coop.

Not that Rachel hasn't been keen on filling it. She wanted chickens immediately. She was excited about having chickens, excited about the Oop having chickens and even scoured the local "Buy-and-Sell" magazine for free laying hens. (Occasionally, people will give away chickens).

It was more that Scott wasn't keen on chickens, thinking we had ALREADY so much to do, that we didn't need a bunch of dirty birds to look after, tend to, pluck eggs from, clean up after and feed and ... and ... (well, you get the picture).

That Scott ... what a curmudgeon, eh?

One project led to another and it's been a year since we've moved in and the coop is still empty. Mind you, with a lack of dry storage buildings, the coop has been (kinda) usurped as a storage shed, for things like windows, doors, rakes and a lawn mower.

Scott's plan nearly came true!

Then blasted Georgina stops by yesterday, bloody nice neighbor that she is, and offers us some chicks from their latest batch. She gives us four squeaking birds and enough feed to keep them alive for a couple of weeks. And suddenly, we're chicken ranchers!

Of course, the Oop was excited and (at first) only a little frightened of the baby birds. It didn't take long though, before we convinced her that it was OKAY to hold them in her hands ... just don't SQUEEZE them!

Rachel, I think, was the most excited of all ... even more so than the Oop. She's never had chickens and all she sees is "free eggs" and happy little farming pictures in school-age books. The kind where "Spot" the dog runs happily through an apple orchard, where the sun shines constantly and the chickens (little white birds) are off pecking in the distance.

Rachel tends to be a tad of an optimist! Scott jokes that if they were adrift at sea, swept away from the coast and sitting in the middle of the ocean, Rachel would pipe up with, "But look how far we've come!", rather than dwell on the fact that they're adrift, lost halfway between two continents.

The delight in Alex's eyes, knowing that she'll grow up knowing about chickens and chores, does help to offset some of the amount of effort it'll take to get them set up.

 

Learning about Chickens

So now these city slickers are stuck with four peeping chicks! They're cute little buggers, but already they've crapped all over the bottom of their cardboard box. They've eaten a whack-load of feed (and there's an equal amount of crap, to match).

They came in a small cardboard box, with lots of tiny holes and a loosely-bound, straw mat floor. We've moved them into a bigger box, kept the straw flooring and added a roof. We've put in plenty of air holes and placed a 60-watt shop light over the top, to give them a bit of warmth. Right now the box is on the floor, in the dining room.

They seem reasonably happy in their new digs, until we lift the lid. Then they peep a lot and huddle close together.

We've pulled them out a few times. Once to sweep the straw mat from bird droppings and a few times just to hold them. They're so fuzzy and warm!

The cat still hasn't shown much interest in them, which is a good things, for their sake. Alex likes to peek in on them and they jump when she brushes the side of the box or starts talking loudly.

We've started to look into coop plans, as Scott figures he can build one, off the ground, with a mesh floor (so the poop falls out of the coop and the birds don't have to walk around in their own shít - pardon my French). It'll have a couple of nests, a sloping roof, a couple of roosting bars and an automatic feed and water supply.

There's much to do and hopefully, we can get it done before the birds grow to the point where they need to be out of their box! Scott figures he has a week to build a coop - :| - not exactly what he had planned for the upcoming week.

We've got a lot to learn about chickens, for sure! (As further evidence that we're city slickers - we don't even know WHAT KIND of chickens these are! Are they Bantams? Rhode Island Reds? How do you tell? Can you tell at this age?)

 

Name those Chickens!

These four chicks, no doubt, will become part of the family and as such, are going to need names. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, as Rachel's not keen on the names that Scott has suggested:

"Let's name them Omelette, Jambalaya, Stew and Drumstick,"

Rachel didn't think that was very funny. :roll:

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1.flag Ann Comment
10/08/07
Scott, you have to give them a solid floor to walk on. Have you ever tried to walk on mesh flooring with heels? That is exactly how the chicken will feel.
You can easily scrape the poop out with a wide mouth shovel. When it dries it is light and is easy to remove-as long as it doesn't get too piled up...if you let them run in the yard they'll do their daytime business in the yard/lawn/doorstep so you won't have too much in the coop.
Have you thought about what you will do if it is four roosters?

hahaah, ok, that is enough out of me eh!


2.flag Gary Comment
10/08/07
Nice one Scott, you are turning into a country boy now ! The city is far behind you and you will just have to go with the flow. (Now where's that straw hat gone)

What with the Oop, the coop and the poop, whats next ?

How about KFC or McChicken for one of there names ?

"Have you thought about what you will do if it is four roosters?" - Yes throw away the alarm clock and start getting up earlier !!!

Nice post Scott,

Gz


3.flag stk Comment
10/08/07
Ann - The mesh is only for the "roost" and "nest" part of the coop. Their "run" will be a large, fenced in area. They're all supposed to be hens - they were purchased as a sexed lot.

Gary - Sit on the stoop, look at the coop and eat chicken soup?
4.flag Gary Comment
10/08/07
Lol, :)

Gz
5.flag Aunt Karen Comment
10/13/07
Henny Penny for one. I like KFC and McChicken, Gary.

Ask farmer Tom about the coop habitat. He should have the skinny. Fluffy won't work for long. Daisy is cute. Just a few thoughts. Today, we are planting geraniums and purple fountain grass. We're priming the yard for our big event in February. 50 years! Yikes!

6.flag stk Comment
10/13/07
So far, only one name has stuck (sort-of). "Twitchy" ... the one chick who keeps shaking it's head all the time. :p

I have spoken to Dad, who has drawn basic plans for the coop they used in Los Molinos. It's a nice design that holds about 8 birds, is simple to make and "portable", so it can be moved around a bit. (It was the design I had in mind since we've moved into the place).

Now all I need to do is BUILD IT!

Early congrats on your 50-year anniversary! We'll be thinking of ya, come February!
7.flag Gran Pilley Comment
10/17/07
My "grand" family is certainly growing. I've got granddaughters, sons, a grand cat and now four grand chickens, oph I nearly forgot the fish. I did enjoy talking to the chickens on the phone. Must come and see them soon.

Do remember the chicken shit is very good for the vegetable garden. Think of it as another asset!
8.flag Gary Comment
10/19/07
Hows the baby chicks Scott, are they growing and has Alex got used to handling them yet ?

Gz
9.flag stk Comment
10/19/07
Well, just like babies ... they spend all their time eating, sleeping, growing (and poo-ing). :p

They've just about grown out of their "file-box". We've got another cage lined up for them, but when I tried to move them (thinking they'd be happy with more space) ... the got a tad cold and "peeped" a lot.

We've only had them out a few times (mostly cause they just crap on everything .. and get scared).

Alex calls them "her baby chicks" and thinks they're pretty cool (tho it's Dad that's turned into the "Mother Hen") :p
10.flag Gary Comment
10/19/07
Glad to hear they are doing well. Sounds like you have a second money making idea. with the chicken poop manure you are producing. My Dad uses chicken manure to fertilise the soil he grows his Dahlias in, pheeew it stinks.

Gz
11.flag Ella Comment
07/21/08
I think you should call them Chloe, Olivia, Hannah and Josie. As you don't want roosters.
12.flag stk Comment
07/21/08
Ella - They'd still be girls, even if we did want roosters. ;)

Funnily enough, they're still difficult to tell apart and they remain "the girls". (One has shapped up to the "the leader" and has a comb that's bigger than the others, but that's the only one that stands out).