Tuesday, June 8, 2010


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.



Paula said...

Hot damn! Congratulations! Aren't you just completely enchanted? I would totally be.

I looked at a bunch of different chicken books, and all the different authors referenced Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens, by Gail Damerow, which seemed to be the go-to bible, so I skipped everyone else's books and bought hers...they had a new edition hardbound at Amazon for less than twenty bucks. If you guys don't have it you might want to see if you can borrow it from the library- she is super thorough about everything, and even describes and translates if you can believe that some of the sounds that chickens make. She also describes the exact 'dead chicken' look for a sleeping baby. Anyway, you might find it really useful.

I'm so glad you scored chicks! Were you planning on ten? Are they straight run or do you know? What are you going to do if you get more than one rooster? If I remember correctly, Orpingtons are supposed to be a good dual purpose breed. I'm running on here.

So happy for you guys!

Toni aka irishlas said...

Ah, you are both now in "chicken love". Such a cool place to be!
I remember when my husband and I brought ours home. We were standing at the chick box watching the little peeps strut around with probably rather enamoured looks on our faces when one of them did exactly as you describe - just kinda fell over! I distinctly remember neither one of us moving a muscle or looking at each other, but, had this reaction - me: what the hell is that? husband - I don't know. me - is is dead? It was only then that we turned to look at each other, and, as we were, the chick popped back up like it had just received a shock!
Isn't it so funny, cute, obsessive, and oh, too damn cute?

Now we have to get Paula to become a chicken mom.

Sorry about the long ramble and congratulations again. Hope they are all straight run, too!!

Miriam said...

Paula - yes, we had planned on 10 BO's, so we thought it was a sign from the heavens that that's exactly how many the chicken lady had. They are straight run - we think we'll keep one rooster and then take the rest to the local slaughter house to process - this time. If we can actually manage to EAT them (Kim is confident about this, but I have my doubts) then we'll look at learning how to do the slaughtering ourselves.

Toni - you have described exactly how Kim and I responded to the "dead" chick. How funny! Since then we've watched them topple over as they fall asleep on their feet.

Chicks! Yippee!

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

Miriam, I continue to admire and be in awe of all that you and Kim do and accomplish!! I'm so excited that you finally got your chicks!! It's my dream to have my own one day, and until I can, I am living vicariously through people like you who do!! I can't wait to read about how they're doing!! sigh...chickws!!

Natalie said...

Oh the sweet little puffs!
I know just what you are describing with those *drop dead naps...* my husband kept having a panic every time he saw them like that.
What fun.
Take lots of pictures... they change so fast, so suddenly.

jill said...

Buff Orpingtons are my favorite! We love ours - they are so pretty to watch when full grown, sweet, docile and great egg layers. You will get so much enjoyment from your chickens. One of my favorite sights is them running toward me, necks craned forward and wings pointed back while jumping over a log when they think I have food for them. We have a fenced in garden - once the plants are 6-8 inches high in the spring, we put the chickens in for part of the day and they eat the slugs and bugs for us. And I agree with Paula - Gail Damerow's book is our go-to source. Have fun!

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