We have chicks! Ten beautiful Buff Orpington chicks, home at last.
Today wasn't the day we were expecting them - they were supposed to arrive from the hatchery on Thursday. But we got a call this morning from the local farm store that has been dealing with the hatchery for us, and it wasn't good news. For the third time the hatchery indicated they couldn't fill the order. We were clucking mad! But it forced us to search once again for a local alternative.
We'd gone this route before, without any luck. We knew we needed chicks, not grown hens, because we don't know enough to be able to determine how old an adult bird is. But all the chicks listed on local websites were being snapped up as soon as the ads were posted. Today we got lucky. A woman in our old stomping grounds on the Saanich Peninsula who raises heritage chickens posted an ad this morning for ten Buff Orpington chicks that were hatched yesterday. And about five minutes later we called her up and those chicks were sold - to us! So we hopped in the car and brought them home in a cardboard box.
We weren't quite ready for them, because we'd been planning for Thursday, so as soon as we got home we were putting out fresh shavings, filling food and water containers, and double checking instructions in our chicken books. We took the chicks out of the box one by one, checked for poopy bums (a daily task), dipped their little beaks in water to show them where it was, then settled them on their feet in their new home.
We're in love with these chicks, but boy, do we have a lot to learn. Kim was distraught when she thought one of the chicks had died. It had nose-dived beak-first into the bedding, wings spread out, and its eyes were shut - it looked dead. Turns out it was just sleeping.
The chicks themselves are doing a good job of telling us what they need, at least when it comes to temperature. From how huddled together or spread apart they are in relation to the heat lamp, you can tell whether they're too hot or too cold. We've adjusted the height of the heat lamp at least eight times so far, and I think we've finally got it right.